It is unfortunately becoming all too commonplace to hear about the death of a young child as a result of a tip-over accident involving a piece of unsecured furniture in the home. Just recently, this issue was local news as a products liability lawsuit was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by the family of a two-year-old West Chester, Pennsylvania boy who was killed after a MALM model dresser, which was purchased at an IKEA store in Conshohocken, PA, fell and crushed him. The suit alleges that the dresser came without hardware to secure it to the wall, despite Ikea having knowledge of the tip-over hazard. A similar incident occurred in 2005 when a 3 year old Huntingdon Valley, PA girl was killed by a falling 200 pound Ikea dresser.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), 430 reported fatalities associated with TV, furniture, and appliance tip-over accidents occurred between 2000 and 2013. In 2011 alone, 49 children died, according to hospital data gathered by the CPSC. The CPSC reports that every 24 minutes, a child in the US visits the ER due to a furniture tip-over accident, and that on average, 1 child dies every 2 weeks when a television or piece of furniture falls on them. Although unclear why there have been an increase in tip-over incidents in recent years, it is believed that consumers buying flat screen televisions are putting their old, bulky sets on furniture never intended to carry the weight.
The CPSC recently launched ‘Anchor It’– a national public education safety campaign aimed at creating awareness and reducing the number of deaths and injuries from tipping furniture and TVs. The CPSC advises that a child could be saved from injury or death by following these eight simple steps:
As a result of an ASTM International (American Society for Testing & Materials) standard developed in 2009, furniture manufacturers are now encouraged to include anti-tipping devices and installation instructions with pieces that are more than 30 inches tall. The test requires that a unit does not tip when a drawer is extended and 50 pounds, simulating the weight of a child, is added. Although this standard can certainly help prevent injuries and death as a result of a tip-over, compliance with this standard is unfortunately voluntary. However, ASTM standards are considered baseline safety ‘best practices’ and as such, failure to comply with them can create legal liability and serve as a basis for a products liability lawsuit.
The personal injury attorneys at Messa & Associates, P.C. are experienced with cases involving defective products as well as injuries to children. If you or a loved one has been injured in a tip-over accident or by a defective or faulty product, please do not hesitate to contact us by calling, toll free, 877-MessaLaw, for a free consultation. You may also submit an online inquiry and received a free case evaluation.