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A home should be a safe and secure structure for you and your family. So it is equally important that what you put inside your house does not pose a threat to your loved ones. According to reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, thousands of children under the age of 18 are injured annually in tip-over incidents involving furniture. Ikea, in particular, has faced international scrutiny over its safety standards, yet has been unwilling to take full responsibility for injuries and even deaths.
Ikea has been manufacturing furniture since 1948, but one of its most recent lines has placed millions of hazards into homes worldwide. Unfortunately, most families were unaware that the Malm design posed a significant risk to their infants until it was too late. If you own a Malm dresser from Ikea and have a small child in your home, knowing your rights and what to do if you or a loved one is injured can be very important.
What was wrong with the Malm line of dressers?
This specific design was sold to thousands of Americans. Despite claiming that it was safe for households, a recall was issued in 2016 after injuries become frequent and sometimes fatal. The dressers presented a significant tipping hazard for small children who tried to climb onto the furniture. Lawsuits began to surface after the dressers crushed infants when they tipped.
It was alleged that Ikea poorly designed these Malm dressers, and, when the number of injuries increased, they did not effectively alert the public. Although Ikea offered wall-anchoring kits and full refunds for dressers manufactured from 2002 to 2016, their efforts were not enough. The Malm line of dressers has been linked to five fatalities, including 2-year-old Jozef Dudek, who was killed in 2017 when the three-drawer Malm dresser tipped over onto him. The parents received a $46 Million settlement from Ikea after it was discovered that they were never given any recall information concerning the dangerous Malm dresser.
In 2017, another style of Ikea dresser tipped over and killed two-year-old Connor DeLong. Despite the tragedy, Ikea did not recall the Hemnes eight-drawer dresser, arguing that when properly installed, the furniture is safe to use. However, parents and safety advocates share concerns that industry furniture standards and the recall process itself may be flawed.
What does a furniture recall mean for consumers?
There are voluntary standards set for thousands of consumer products, including dressers. The specifications are set by ASTM International and require any dresser taller than 27 inches not to tip over when a 50-pound weight is placed on an extended drawer. However, this standard does not apply to dressers that are below 27 inches.
It is important to understand that safety standards for dressers are voluntary in the United States. Dressers are therefore not required to pass premarket tests before being sold in stores across the country. When it comes to your family’s safety, it is up to the manufacturer to decide whether or not safety standards are being met.
Issuing a recall can be a lengthy and complicated endeavor depending on the evidence, industry standards, and consumer complaints. In some cases, as with the Malm dressers, it can take years of lawsuits and negative media attention before a product is officially recalled. This means that thousands, if not millions of consumers, may still be using hazardous furniture within their homes.
If a product you own has been recalled, you need to take immediate action. In most cases, the company will offer a refund or store credit for applicable purchases. They might also provide additional safety measures such as free anchoring kits to secure existing furniture.
What do I need to know about dresser safety?
A new piece of furniture may appear safe, but injuries can still occur under the right circumstances. Although Ikea issued a recall of Malm dressers in 2016, they failed to recognize the safety hazards of other dressers. Despite testing the stability of their furniture, they may not be considering real-world situations. Several factors can impact the safety of a dresser in your home:
Shorter dressers are not considered safer
Although it may seem logical to assume that shorter dressers pose a lesser threat to child safety, this is not always the case. A lower center of gravity does not always guarantee less risk when it comes to tipping hazards. In 2018, Consumer Reports conducted their own stringent testing to evaluate the safety of dressers under 30 inches. They found that more than half of the products failed all but one of the rigorous tests.
Older children may still try to climb
Even if you have taught your child that climbing on furniture can be dangerous, children may still maintain independence. If they are still shorter in height, and there is something they want to reach, they will find a way. Sometimes, this might involve another piece of furniture, such as a chair or stool. Depending on how your child attempts to reach the item, the dresser may pose a threat to their safety.
Well-made furniture does not guarantee safety
Any piece of furniture with a drawer poses a higher tipping risk than furniture without drawers. Well-made furniture does not guarantee that the center of gravity will accommodate unexpected weight added to extended drawers. Even if your dresser is anchored to the wall, it can still be a potential hazard for young children if done incorrectly.
Playrooms are not the only play space in the eyes of a child
Furniture mishaps can happen quickly and unexpectedly. Even when supervising your child, they can disappear around a corner faster than you can chase after them. Anchoring all furniture, no matter which room it might be in, is the only way to prevent an injury.
Latches on drawers serve limited purposes
Child-proofing a house often includes installing latches on doors and drawers. However, these precautions are only intended to prevent babies and younger toddlers from accessing cabinets and storage units. Latches are not intended to replace furniture anchors, nor are they likely to keep out older children. If climbing is still an option, your dresser may be a hazard.
No matter how heavy the dresser might be, it can still tip
Heavy or not, a dresser can still be a tipping risk if the drawers are left open or pulled open by a toddler. Even a 30-pound child can be enough weight to cause a dresser to lean forward should they grab onto a drawer. Dressers rely on a stable center of gravity to stay upright. If a child were to add even a small amount of disproportionate weight, it could cause the piece of furniture to lose balance.
Can I file a claim against Ikea if my child was injured?
If you or someone you know has a child who was injured by an Ikea dresser tip-over, you should pursue all remedies available to you. Despite passing industry safety tests, Ikea negates that additional circumstances may influence a dresser’s risk of injury. Stability tests involve hanging a 50-pound weight from each drawer while the others are closed. However, Ikea cannot guarantee that infants will only open one drawer at a time in a real-world situation.
Ikea knew that these dressers were dangerous, and they did not do enough to warn the consumers. Because of their negligence, children are being hurt and even killed through no fault of their own. Claims made against Ikea would be rooted in product liability in that Malm dressers were inherently dangerous or defective.
What do I need to file a claim?
It is imperative to prove that the product itself was the cause of the injury. You will need to have documentation, such as medical records, showing that the Malm dresser tipped over onto your child, and they were injured. As a result, you may be entitled to damages. You should always keep all of the medical documentation related to the injuries. Medical records and photos of the dresser and the injuries are proof that you will need to prove that the Malm dresser caused your child’s injuries.
How long do product liability claims take to resolve?
As far as the statute of limitations goes, in Florida, it is four years from the injury date. This means that you have four years to file the claim against Ikea for the dresser mishap. Once you file your lawsuit, it could take anywhere from several months to several years to resolve.
The length of time to resolve a product liability claim depends on how far the case goes and whether it makes it to an eventual trial. Trials can be pushed off numerous times and can be rescheduled depending on court availability. It is important that you understand that these types of cases do not typically resolve quickly.
Should you hire an attorney for your Malm dresser claim against Ikea?
Just because a product has been recalled does not mean that the company has effectively communicated its safety hazards to consumers. It is the retailer’s responsibility to properly inform purchasers that the products they own are dangerous to keep in the home. If you or someone you know were injured due to an Ikea dresser incident, you should get an attorney involved as soon as you can. Particularly if you were not adequately informed about the potential risk of your furniture, you might be entitled to compensation.
Product liability claims are very detailed, and they require the experience of a product liability attorney to see the case through to its conclusion properly. The attorneys at the Lopez Law Group are experienced in product liability matters and can advise you as to whether or not you have a valid claim. We can be reached at 727-933-0015.
Our consultations are always free, and we can review your specific facts to see whether or not you would have a valid claim against Ikea.
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