Getting a Recovery for Injuries from a Broken Chair


   In the world of personal injury law there is nothing funny about falling out of a chair.

A couple of days ago we read about a police officer who obtained a recovery for a broken chair in the precinct house.  He claimed that he was placing his gun in his waistband while he was sitting back.  The chair gave way.  The officer accidentally shot himself in the knee.   The City claims that the policeman’s carelessness in handling his gun caused the injury.  The officer claims that the seat back’s failure caused him to accidentally discharge his gun.  The case is being appealed.

We have had many chair failure cases.  Here are a few examples:

  • The client, the office manager, purchased a new swivel chair for her desk.  The chair collapsed on the second day of use.  The client sustained permanent back injuries. 
  • The client fell from a broken chair on a restaurant cruise ship in Philadelphia.  This client had permanent neck injuries.
  • The client visited a nail salon.  When she sat across from the manicurist, the chair collapsed, and the client was injured.  The client’s knee was injured.
  • The client visited the Boat House Restaurant in Central Park for a pleasant brunch.  Her chair collapsed, and the client sustained permanent injuries.

In the defective office chair we were able to have our engineer inspect the chair.  It was a cheap import sold as the house brand at Office Max.  The metal post, which held the seat, snapped, and the client fell down.  Our engineer opined that the metal post was not strong enough, and that the chair was defectively manufactured and designed.  This was a new chair.  Office Max, as the retailer of the chair, was liable.  The case was settled.

In the Office Max case the chair was new.  In the typical chair collapse case the chair is old and has been abused and misused.  In those cases we claim that the chair should have been repaired or discarded. 

In the case of an old chair we would have to show the following in order to recover:

  • the owner  or his manager was told about the problem at an earlier occasion, and the owner failed to do anything, such as replace the chair or fix it.
  • other people had noticed the defect before the accident, and this problem was noted in a period of time before the client’s fall.
  • the defect was of such a nature that the owner should have known of the problem before the accident, and he should have taken corrective steps to have prevented the accident.

If you have been injured as a result of a defective chair or seat please call me to discuss your case at 800-581-1434 or write to us at letters@seitelman.com.

Mark E. Seitelman, 11/28/08, www.seitelman.com.

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2 Responses to Getting a Recovery for Injuries from a Broken Chair

  1. Dan says:

    Just goes to show what happens when people buy chairs which are not appropriate for the situations.
    Chairs have ratings, and the sort that they sell at the big box office supply stores are often only rated to 2 hours and support weights up to 150 to 175 lbs. Look, instead for those rated to 8 hours, and support 250.

    There are even more rugged chairs out there, for big and tall and 24/7 usage.

  2. Dan, you bring-up an interesting point.

    In our Office Max case there were no ratings or limitations on the box. Office Max never claimed that the chair was only to be used either for two hours or by thin people. The chair was sold and intended to be a desk chair.

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