Hundreds of Children Still Die Every Year Due to Tip-Over Accidents
With the holiday season upon us, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is emphasizing just how deadly certain objects, such as furniture and appliances, can be when it comes to children and tip over accidents. Furniture tip-over accidents alone send more than 40,000 people to the emergency room every year, with a majority of them being children. According to the Commission’s data, just between 2000 and 2018, almost 460 children 17 and younger died from tip over deaths caused by being crushed under the weight of an appliance, furniture, or television, where a majority are five years old or younger. As a result, the Commission suggests that certain furniture items and others, such as televisions, be anchored to a low base and placed in areas where children cannot easily climb and cause them to fall.
Still, the blame does not necessarily lie with families, especially when they do not anchor an item that reasonably shouldn’t be expected to be anchored, like most dressers. As a result. every year, litigation is brought by families over a number of these products turning out to be defective and inherently dangerous; for example, in 2016, after decades of their furniture causing injuries and deaths, and reaching a $50 million settlement with some families over their loss, IKEA finally recalled its “Malm” dresser line because so many children had died after being crushed by the dresser.
In addition, some parents aren’t just holding manufacturers responsible: In 2019, the mother of a two-year-old who was killed after an IKEA dresser (the “Hemnes” eight-drawer model) fell on him filed litigation against the American Society for Testing and Materials and American Home Furnishings Alliance for failing to put in place adequate safety standards that will actually protect children when it comes to tip over incidents. According to litigation records, the dresser passed the organizations’ established “good test,” which IKEA reportedly relied on when designing and manufacturing the item after years of releasing furniture that did not necessarily conform to any American voluntary safety standards. The lawsuit also claims that the organizations have actively encouraged the industry to comply with their standards in an effort to stave off additional consumer protection and government oversight, as well as accountability. In doing so, it has used its arbitrary, inadequate voluntary standards to conceal the hazardous nature of a number of poorly-designed furniture units.
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Manufacturers have a duty to only place products on the market that are reasonably safe for use when used in a reasonable, foreseeable way. We as consumers should not have to lose our loved ones to incidents before a product is recalled. In order to bring a lawsuit alleging negligence, a plaintiff must allege that the parties responsible failed to exercise reasonable care in promulgating their standards and breached their “duty of reasonable care” for failing to adjust these standards when they knew that they didn’t take into account the ordinary, foreseeable use of these items by children.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a tip-over incident, contact our Jacksonville defective product lawyers at Douglas & Carter, Attorneys at Law to find out how we can help.