The answer to this question is a resounding “yes.” In light of the recent IKEA debacle in which six children died, it has become apparent that poorly designed furniture is a serious problem. In that case, freestanding dressers and chests tipped over, causing injury or death. This year, the company and federal regulatory officials struck an agreement whereby 36 million pieces of IKEA tip-over furniture were recalled. Of all the furniture safety recalls in the United States, this was the largest in history.
According to a statement from Elliot F. Kaye, head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the dangers pertaining to freestanding furniture in households with smaller children is quite serious. The problem is that children naturally like to climb or pull on furniture, causing it to tip over on top of them.
In the IKEA case alone, lawsuits have been filed for three of the deaths. These claims all focus on wrongful death, with the families accusing the company of not providing consumers with adequate hardware to prevent the furniture from tipping over. The lawsuits also claim that the company knew that furniture being sold presented an unreasonable hazard for a tip-over scenario.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) governs the safety and/or resale of recalled products. Under that act, anyone running a retail or secondhand store, having a garage sale, or giving consumer products away must understand and follow this law.
Although the government and private sectors have taken actions to prevent horrific accidents, there is no way to guarantee that another misfortune will not occur sometime in the future. Having laws in place is one way of protecting children. However, in the event a child is injured after a furniture recall, the best course of action is to hire a reputable attorney.
Unfortunately, these IKEA products are not the only problem. Millions of freestanding dressers and chests manufactured by other companies present the same potential risk. For that reason, parents must take the necessary steps to ensure that furniture is securely anchored. In addition, a larger and heavier item placed on top of a dresser or chest that could fall on a small child, such as a television or lamp, needs to be placed in a more secure area.
If a child is injured because of freestanding furniture, whether prior to or after a recall has been issued, it is imperative for the parents to speak to a personal injury or product liability lawyer. The attorney will answer questions and provide helpful information as to legal rights and other options.
Having a qualified attorney handling the case is the best option. After gathering all the required documentation and other information, the attorney will know the best way to proceed. Ultimately, the goals are to ensure that any medical expenses for the child are taken care of, both short and long term, and to raise awareness to the company and public that a new furniture risk exists.