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Defective Chair Injury Claims – What You Need to Know Before Filing a Lawsuit

Defective Chair Injury Claims – A Common Occurrence

Two women sitting on chairs overlooking the ocean

In this article, we’ll break down the following:

Since time immemorial, falling off chairs has been a source of comic relief. It’s not as funny when it happens to you, and you end up with a fractured tailbone, a herniated disc, or a sprained wrist. It’s even less of a laughing matter if the source of your injuries was a defective chair.

If you or a loved one was injured by a faulty chair, you might be entitled to compensation. Here’s everything you need to know about defective chair injury claims.

Defective Chair Injury Claims – Definition

A chair should be sturdy enough to hold the user’s weight. While most chairs are stable, others are not and may collapse at any moment.

Chairs break for any number of reasons. It might be due to wear and tear after years of use. It might be because of a lack of proper and regular maintenance to keep it in good working condition. It might be because it was poorly manufactured. It might even be because it was poorly designed.

Whatever the case, the reason behind a chair collapsing is relevant when determining whether or not you can recover damages if you’re injured. Defective chair injury claims seek to hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident in question, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the chair manufacturer or seller or a premises liability claim against the property owner if the chair broke at their establishment.

Common Types of Chair Defects

A chair can be deemed dangerous for any of the following reasons:

  • Defective armrests
  • Faulty backrests
  • Faulty reclining mechanisms
  • Poor quality materials
  • Poor workmanship
  • Unstable or uneven base
  • Weak or faulty legs

Common Types of Injuries Caused by Defective Chairs

Defective chairs present some common hazards to users. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Body bruising and lacerations
  • Fractured bones
  • Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Neck, spinal, and abdominal injuries
  • Severed or lacerated hands
  • Neurological injuries resulting from toxic emissions from the chair
  • Burn injuries from non-flame-retardant chairs that result in rapid fires

Liability in Defective Chair Injury Claims

Who is responsible for your chair-related injury? That’s the million-dollar question. Identifying the liable party will depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident.

If you used the chair incorrectly and got hurt in the process, you would be liable for your own injuries.

On the other hand, if you were using the chair properly and played no active role in getting injured, you could be looking at two potential scenarios as far as liability is concerned:

1. Product Liability Injury Claim

A product liability claim is brought against the manufacturer for injuries sustained due to a defective chair. Liability in defective chair injury claims falls into one of three broad categories:

  • Manufacturing defects: This defect arises during molding, casting, or assembly, rendering the product dangerous when used as intended.
  • Design defects: This error is made during the chair’s design process, making it inherently dangerous when used as intended.
  • Marketing defects: This has to do with labeling and warnings (or the lack thereof) to caution users of the dangers the product poses, especially when used incorrectly.

In Florida, product liability claims are strict liability suits. It means the victim does not have to prove that the manufacturer or retailer was negligent, as with traditional injury claims. In the case of defective chair liability suits, plaintiffs need to prove that:

  1. The manufacturer designed and made the chair in question;
  2. The chair had a defect;
  3. The defect rendered the chair unreasonably dangerous to use; and
  4. The defective chair was the proximate cause of injury.

2. Premises Liability Injury Claim

A premises liability claim is brought against the property owner or business for injuries sustained on their premises. To win a premises liability claim for a chair accident, the victim will have to prove that:

  1. The property owner was aware of the faulty chair;
  2. The defective chair was on the premises long enough for the property owner to have known about it;
  3. The property owner should have addressed or fixed the dangerous chair but failed to do so; and
  4. The plaintiff was appropriately diligent while using the chair and was not responsible for causing their own injuries.

That said, if the property owner was aware of the faulty chair beforehand and yet failed to rectify it or, at the very least, warn patrons of it, they will likely be responsible for any injuries that result.

Examples of Products That Caused Chair Injuries

Defective Armrests

  • An individual weighing 130 lbs. used the armrests of a lawn chaise chair they had purchased to lower themselves onto it. The chair broke and collapsed, cutting off the tip of their right middle finger down to the bone.
  • A user was reclining in a zero-gravity folding chair when the armrest support collapsed, trapping them in the chair. They sustained minor neck injuries as a result.

Faulty Backrests

  • A user sustained head, elbow, and back injuries after a recliner chair flipped backward due to a malfunctioning safety lock. The lock failed to hold the chair in place once the user sat.
  • An individual was sitting in a patio lounge chair with their four-year-old child when it collapsed backward, and they both fell on their heads.
  • A consumer fell backward and almost hit their head on the ground when the backrest of the chair they were sitting on snapped and sheared right off.

Faulty Reclining Mechanism

  • A consumer tipped over backward while sitting in a brand-new recliner chair.
  • A disabled user reported being trapped in a recliner chair for one and a half hours after the reclining mechanism failed.
  • A user purchased a folding, reclining chair. Upon first use, it tipped backward, resulting in the user slamming their back against the desk. It snapped shut, pinning the user’s legs against their chest, leaving them trapped in the chair.
  • A user was breastfeeding their baby in a recliner chair. As she leaned forward to exit the recline position, it flipped over, landing on them. Luckily, her partner was present to remove the chair from on top of them. Mother and baby were not hurt in the incident.

Poor Quality Materials

  • The two plastic joints of a folding beach chair broke apart when the user sat on it. The chair collapsed, and the user was left sitting on the beach. By some good luck, the sharp steel structure missed puncturing their arms and torso by a few millimeters.
  • A consumer purchased two fabric lawn chairs that instantly collapsed when they sat on one of them. The user would have hit the ground had they not used their arms to break the fall.

Poor Workmanship

  • The electric motor in a recliner loveseat malfunctioned. Shortly after, the user noticed a burning odor and smoke emanating from the left backside of the seat, posing a fire hazard.

Unstable or Uneven Base

  • A user reported a patio chair collapsing while they were sitting on it. They sustained injuries to one of their knees, toes, and back.
  • The plastic lattice straps under the cushion on a set of patio chairs gave way, causing the person sitting on it to fall through. The user weighs 120 lbs., and the chairs could not support them.

Weak or Faulty Legs

  • A user leaned back on a folding chair, and it flipped on them. The chair had no warning label indicating that users should check to see whether the ground is even before sitting there.
  • Another user was leaning forward to tie their shoes in their computer video game chair when it tipped forward, causing them to face-plant on the floor. They attributed this to a design defect stating that the base wasn’t wide enough to stabilize the chair.

Florida Case Law on Defective Product Claims

In Florida, injured victims of defective products can recover damages under three main legal principles: A design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect. Under Florida law, designers, manufacturers, and sellers can be held to a strict liability standard with regard to these claims.

It means that a plaintiff may not have to prove negligence on the part of these entities. At the very least, a victim needs to prove that:

  1. A viable relationship between the designer, manufacturer, or seller and the product in question exists;
  2. The product had a defect;
  3. The defect made the product inherently unsafe for its intended purpose; and
  4. The defect was the proximate cause of the injuries sustained.

To win their claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant(s) contravened industry-specific and federal standards set by various regulatory agencies, including, but not limited to, OSHA and the CPSC. Title 16 of the Consumer Protection Safety Act also contains standards for upholstered furniture that designers and manufacturers must adhere to.

It would then be up to the designer, manufacturer, or seller to refute these allegations by proving that their product met the applicable specifications and safety standards when it went on the market.

Alternatively, a victim may be able to bring a premises liability action against a property owner or business for injuries sustained from a defective chair in their establishment.

Florida Case Law Related to Defective Chairs

Hall v. Sunjoy Industries Group, Inc.

Issue: The plaintiff Dorothy Hall initiated a claim against defendants Sunjoy Industries Group, Inc. and Kmart Corp. store. In her complaint, Hall alleges to have sat on a metal patio chair distributed by Sunjoy when it collapsed, causing her to fall and land flat on her back, sustaining injuries. The incident occurred at the Kmart store premises.

Hall filed a strict liability and negligence claim against both defendants for a manufacturing defect, failure to warn, and failing to properly test and inspect the chair. She weighed about 350-360 lbs. at the time.

Result: The court ruled against the plaintiff’s strict liability claim for a manufacturing defect on the grounds that there was no evidence to show that the chair in question had any defects or issues before the incident.

The court also ruled against Hall’s negligence claim that the defendants owed a duty of care to inspect and test the chair. Florida law requires no such duty from any entity other than the product’s manufacturer.

They are the ones responsible for designing, manufacturing, and testing it. The court further stated that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence linking the failure to test and warn to the chair collapsing.

The court ruled against the plaintiff’s negligence claim against Kmart. Hall failed to prove to the court’s satisfaction that the chair in question was under the store’s exclusive control. Instead, it was displayed in the store’s garden section and made available for the general public to inspect.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky: Background

Alan Sackrin and Larry Tolchinsky have over 60 years of combined legal experience in civil litigation, mediation, arbitration, and appellate matters. The law firm specializes in a wide range of practice areas, including:

  • Catastrophic car accidents
  • Wrongful Death
  • Slip and Falls
  • Insurance claims/denials
  • All other serious personal injury claims

We’ve made it our mission to provide clients with world-class legal assistance to help them get the most favorable outcome in their claims.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky’s Experience as Injury Claims Lawyers

Alan Sackrin is a product liability attorney with decades of experience representing clients in defective product injury claims. He has been at the forefront of complex litigation involving hard-to-win cases and has secured significant settlements for his clients.

One notable case Alan handled was a $925,000 settlement for an individual struck by a moving vehicle while under the influence of cocaine.

Get Legal Help

If you or a loved one has been injured by what you believe to be a defective chair, consult a product liability attorney as soon as possible.

Sackrin & Tolchinsky attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of defectively manufactured products. They have the knowledge and expertise to help you prove your case and obtain the settlement you’re entitled to.

Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation to discuss the specifics of your claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What steps should I take if I am injured due to a defective chair?

If you have been injured by what you believe to be a defective chair, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Seek urgent medical care for your injuries.
  2. Preserve evidence of the defective chair and document everything, including your medical records.
  3. Speak with an experienced product liability attorney as soon as you can.
  4. Identify what kind of defective chair injury claim you have. Was the accident the result of a design defect, manufacturing defect, or failure to warn?
  5. Identify the liable parties in your claim.
  6. Determine your damages.

What kind of damages can I recover in a defective chair injury claim?

You can recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical costs incurred
  • Projected expenses of any future medical care you might need
  • Lost wages if you had to miss work due to your injuries or if your ability to work has been impaired
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress

What is the statute of limitations for filing a defective chair injury claim in Florida?

The statute of limitation for product liability cases based on strict liability is 4 years. For product liability cases based on negligence, please call us to discuss your case, as a recent statutory change in the law has caused uncertainty to the limitations period.

Do You Have A Question? Call Alan Sackrin Today For a Free Case Evaluation

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40+ years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert civil trial lawyer about your product liability case, call Alan at 945-458-8655.