Could falling furniture epidemic lead to liability claims?

Date: Jun 27, 2018

Product liability claims could be on the horizon for furniture manufacturers and retailers after a number of tragic accidents have recently hit the headlines.

Falling furniture and TVs hospitalise approximately 2,600 Australians each year, which is 50 people every week, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Children are the most at risk, with at least 22 kids under the age of nine dying in the country since 2001 due to toppled furniture.

"Children are naturally inquisitive and common household furniture can look very different and interesting from a toddler's perspective. For example, they may see items of furniture like bookcases and shelves as a ladder to gain access to reach an item that is stored up high," commented Melanie Courtney, CEO of Kidsafe Victoria.

She said anyone who has young children in their home must make themselves aware of the dangers and actively prevent accidents, whether toddlers live there or are just visiting.

How can you prevent furniture from toppling?

The ACCC has partnered with Kidsafe to launch a national awareness campaign to prevent children from sustaining serious injuries or worse when furniture tips over.

They offered several pieces of advice to parents, including:

  • Purchase low-set furniture.
  • Choose items that come with anchoring or safety equipment.
  • Test furniture in shops before buying.
  • Attach, mount and bolt furniture to walls and floors.
  • Avoid placing heavy or enticing items on high-set furniture.
  • Place locks on drawers to stop children using them as steps.

Dr Warwick Teague, director of the trauma service at the Royal Children's Hospital, offered a sobering reminder of the dangers that toppled furniture can create.

"Common injuries from TV and furniture tip-over incidents result from significant blunt force trauma and include broken bones, brain injuries, crushed chest cavities and even death by asphyxiation," Dr Teugue explained.

But what are your options when you believe a manufacturing fault or other problem with a product caused the accident?

Pursuing product liability claims for faulty furniture

Liability laws enable people to pursue compensation for faulty products that cause them or their loved ones injuries.

In 2016, IKEA agreed to pay US$50 million (AU$67.6 million) to the families of three toddlers who were killed when furniture toppled on them. The parents accused the retailer of negligently failing to meet industry safety standards when manufacturing dressers.

Similar legislation exists in NSW to protect consumers from faulty products, so please contact an experienced personal injuries lawyer today if you believe you have a claim.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers can provide expert advice on local liability laws, as well as gather evidence on your behalf and fight your claim in court. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.