Defective Furniture Injuries
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of George E. McLaughlin with McLaughlin Law Firm.
Furniture makes up a significant percentage of the items in a home. Anything from your kitchen table, to your living room sofa, bed, child’s crib, and even lamps may be considered furniture, and all are subject to potential defects. Furniture designers and manufacturers are required to meet certain industry standards ensuring the basic safety of their products; if a piece of furniture causes harm to a consumer, it is possible that a defect is at play which could entitle the injured party to seek compensation for their damages. If you or a loved one were injured by an unsafe piece of furniture, talk to a product liability attorney as soon as possible.
Common hazards presented by defective furniture include but are not necessarily limited to the following:
- Furniture that is prone to tipping or collapse, which can cause bruises, cuts, head trauma, broken bones, and suffocation.
- Drawers and hinges which can cause pinched fingers and hands.
- Lids that shut quickly or heavily, increasing the risk of broken or lacerated fingers and hands.
- Design that allows for entrapment, especially of children or pets, that could result in strangulation or suffocation.
- Furniture that contains or emits lead, dangerous gasses, or other toxins which can result in neurological damage and respiratory distress among other symptoms.
- Furniture designed without flame-retardant resulting in rapid fires and burn injuries.
Defective furniture often but not always falls into one of the following categories:
- Infant cribs
- Child playpens
- Television sets and wall mounts
- Entertainment centers
- Office chairs
- Bunk beds
- Folding chairs
Children and pets are particularly at risk of defective furniture injuries, as these groups often do not understand how to avoid potential risks associated with the product and may be too small or lack the physical strength to protect themselves. Children and pets are particularly at risk of furniture tipping and collapse accidents, as well as strangulation or choking hazards.
Furniture designers and manufacturers are required to account for foreseeable misuse.
Foreseeable misuse refers to any way in which a piece of furniture may be predictably misused based on reasonable assumptions. If a piece of furniture is likely to be used in a household where children or pets reside, the designers/manufacturers must consider all of the ways in which a child or pet may reasonably be expected to misuse the piece of furniture. For example, children are known to climb and pull on objects around them, especially when learning to stand or walk. Furniture should be heavy enough with its center of gravity dispersed in such a way that a child doing so will not tip the piece onto themself. Similarly, objects that involve moving parts such as a fan should have safeguards in place to ensure that a child cannot stick their finger between the moving blades and injure themselves.
Do not throw the furniture away.
Isolate it so that it cannot cause further harm or put a box over it until it can be retrieved or assessed by your attorney’s expert team. If you have already turned in the product to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you may ask to have it returned to you. Additionally, any packaging or instructional material that accompanied the furniture can make a big difference in the success of your case, so it’s important to keep it all together if at all possible to avoid making your attorney track it all down. First and foremost though, it is important to maintain possession of the product that caused the injury; as a general rule of thumb, if there is no product, there is no case.
If you or a loved one suffered from a potentially defective piece of furniture, reach out to a product liability attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery.