Children & Furniture Tip-Overs: What You Need to Know

Children are one of life’s greatest blessings. But every parent knows that they can also be a real handful. Turn your back for one second and they’re covered in peanut butter, climbing onto furniture, or generally “getting into” something you weren’t expecting. While a child’s never-ending curiosity can sometimes exasperate a parent, we usually end up getting a good chuckle out of the situation. But once in a while, a child can be endangered, even while behaving no differently than most other children would act. 

Furniture tip-overs can be such an example. Tip-overs often occur when weight is placed on one area of an unstable piece of furniture, causing it to fall over. This can be caused by hanging or climbing on the furniture. In some cases, small children climb into a drawer. When the furniture tips over, it can land on top of a person, causing serious injury and death. The danger is especially pronounced for children who are unable to free themselves. In this article, we will examine the issue more closely.

Dangers Presented by Furniture Tip-Overs

For every parent, keeping children safe is a priority. But furniture tip-overs do not immediately come to mind for many people when considering the dangers from which children must be protected. Thus, many people find the statistics surrounding tip-overs to be surprising. 

In November 2019, the United States Product Safety Commission produced a report (“the Report”) on “Product Instability or Tip-Over Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Televisions, Furniture, and Appliances.” According to the report, lots of people end up in the emergency room from these types of injuries. From 2016-2018 an average of 27,100 people per year received treatment in ERs for injuries resulting from product instability and tip-overs. Out of this total number of tip-overs, 86 percent involved furniture, resulting in 20,500 injuries. The Report also listed 556 fatalities related to tip-overs between 2000 and 2018.

It is also instructive to break injuries and fatalities down by age group. Thirty-eight percent of injuries involved adults ages 18-59. Sixteen percent involved adults 60 and older. Children represented 46 percent of the people who received injuries; however, a whopping 83 percent of reported fatalities involved children ranging from one month to 14 years of age.

Recalls Due to Tip-Over Risks

Further illuminating the issue is the fact that a number of companies have recalled their products due to the dangers of tip-overs. Below, we’ll provide just a recent sampling:

  • IKEA recall of Kullen Chest - on March 4, 2020, IKEA recalled 820,000 units of a Kullen 3-drawer chest. According to the recall, the chest is unstable when it is not anchored to the wall, “posing tip-over and entrapment hazards that may result in death or serious injuries to children.”
  • Prepac 4 Drawer Chests - approximately 21,000 units recalled on May 6, 2020, due to tip-over and entrapment risks.
  • Modus Dressers - on June 18, 2020, Modus recalled approximately 1,300 specified dressers due to tip-over and entrapment hazards.
  • Safavieh Chests - on February 26, 2020, Safavieh recalled Aura and Silas 3-drawer chests due to tip-over and entrapment hazards.

Are Furniture Makers Doing Enough to Protect Children?

Consumer Reports (CR) does not think that furniture manufacturers are proactive when it comes to protecting children from tip-overs. The publication notes that the furniture-making industry is governed by a voluntary tip-over standard, which CR finds to be inadequate. Experts believe the best protection is to secure furniture to a wall. Unfortunately, some people lack the know-how to do so or live in a rental home where they are not permitted to do so.

Holding Wrongdoers Accountable

America has a long history of using the court system to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions. Under theories of product liability and negligence, injured victims often have rights to be compensated for their injuries and to recover damages that make them whole. 

If you’ve been injured by a furniture tip-over, you probably have questions about your rights. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer them. We have litigated throughout Oregon to ensure the rights of our clients. Please call for a free consultation. 


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