Ask The Judge

Judge Frank R. Bayger

Judge Frank R. Bayger

Dear Judge Bayger:

My six-year-old son was attempting to get at the TV on top of the dresser in his bedroom.  The TV and dresser fell on top of him, breaking his arm.  I’ve heard of these types of accidents killing the child, so I am grateful he is still alive.  But do I have a claim against the manufacturer of the TV or the dresser?

Signed,
Wondering in Wheatfield

 

Answer:   You are indeed fortunate that your son escaped greater injury.  Accidents of this nature can often be fatal.  As to your question, the answer depends on various factors.

I doubt there is a claim against the television manufacturer unless you can demonstrate the TV was unstable and became unbalanced, which caused it to fall and strike your son.  Since the dresser fell also, the proximate cause of the injury was the dresser itself, not the item on top of it.

As it relates to the dresser manufacturer, there may be a claim for a dangerous and defective product.  Recently, Ikea voluntarily recalled 29 million dressers and offered refunds to the owners after they became aware of three children’s deaths within a two-year period.

Once the dresser becomes loaded, if it is not balanced properly, it may tip over and lead to a injury or death if it is not properly secured to the wall.  In many instances, wall anchors are supplied with the dresser upon purchase, which would help shift the liability to the parent to properly install the furniture.  If your dresser did not include the safety equipment, or did not adequately advise how to install the dresser, you may still have a case against the manufacturer.

It would also be helpful to know whether or not the particular brand or model dresser you own has been subject to a recall, either voluntarily by the manufacturer or by order of a government agency.  If the company has taken action to remedy the risk associated with its product, it could serve to mitigate their exposure in the event of a lawsuit.

Without knowing all of the specifics, I cannot say with certainty that you have a case against the manufacturer, but I would certainly recommend that you make an appointment to discuss it further with a qualified attorney.

(Retired State Supreme Court Justice Frank R. Bayger is inviting you to submit legal questions pertaining to personal injury or wrongful death cases to him for a published response.  Email your questions to Judge Bayger, a Hall of Fame trial lawyer, and the judge will respond in writing in the Niagara Falls Reporter.  Send your email to frankrbayger@gmail.com.)

 

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