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Buyer Beware: The Products You Thought You Knew

You may consider home accidents a part of life, but what if you knew that certain products were more likely to cause you or your family members more injury?

In the spirit of becoming more informed, we studied data from the U.S. CPSC, which goes as far back as the ’70s, and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to understand which products have caused Americans the most injuries and how much companies have paid in civil lawsuits because of them. Curious what we discovered? Keep reading.

Product Pain

According to the NEISS, stairs caused more than 300,000 injuries. It may sound silly, but you shouldn’t underestimate the danger associated with stairways. Roughly half of today’s U.S. homes have stairs, and the cost of these nonfatal injuries can amount to an average of $92 billion each year.

Sports-related injuries were also common. In September 2017, two college football players died from injuries for the first time in college football history. In fact, thousands of Americans sustain football-related injuries each year, making it one of the most dangerous sports in the country. Unfortunately, better helmets do not equate to fewer concussions, and some experts argue improving helmet technology encourages players to play with more risk.

Generational Discomfort

According to the NEISS, over 32,000 injuries for children 4 years old and younger involved a bed. From bassinets to bunk beds, young children can be hurt by falling off the bed or even getting tangled up in the sheets. As a result of these injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies should sleep in a bare crib, void of blankets, pillows, or soft toys.

For children between the ages of 5 and 15, as well as people between the ages 16 and 24, the most common injuries were sports-related. On average, 1 in 3 children who play a team sport will suffer a serious injury, and 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice. To help avoid the bruises, bumps, and breaks, local sports safety events could help instill best practices in young players, in addition to strong guidelines set by school boards and community leaders.

For adults between the ages of 25 and 64, the most hazardous objects were stairs, while those 65 and older were most likely to be hurt by flooring.

Fined Furniture and Other Items

Chairs are not the largest cause of emergency room visits; however, they resulted in the largest total fine amount (over $8.3 million) due to civil penalties. In one case, the U.S. CPSC penalized Raynor Marketing Ltd. for selling office chairs with a defect and neglecting to immediately report injuries resulting from use.

You wouldn’t expect a comfy lounge chair to be a source of pain or the cause of a civil suit. The company Raynor paid a hefty price for this mistake, with the penalty reaching almost $400,000. The company also recalled 150,000 chairs, which could have caused injuries if the bolts in the seatback loosened or detached. Next up were exercise equipment and beds, which caused around 213,000 injuries since 2006, and racked up nearly $12 million in civil penalty fines.

Payout Profiles

Civil penalties are often much larger and more frequent than their criminal counterparts. The biggest difference between the two is who the perpetrator is and against whom. A large reason civil cases are pursued is that “the burden of proof is lower,” which is based on a preponderance of the evidence, whereas criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Agreeing to pay nearly $15.5 million in civil penalties, Gree USA, Inc. sold faulty dehumidifiers that caught fire after overheating, resulting in $4.5 million in property damage beginning in 2012. Special circumstances did apply to this case, however, as Gree was also found to have “knowingly made misrepresentations to CPSC staff during its investigation.”

Protecting Your Loved Ones

By their very definition, accidents are unintentional. From the toys you buy to the sports teams people enroll in, most people never expect these items or hobbies to lead to serious injury or death.

To help make sure you and your loved ones are protected in the event of an emergency, let find you the best insurance coverage with the lowest premiums. In just a few minutes, you can have custom no-obligation quotes on plans that cover health, home, life, and business. Better yet, we’ll answer your questions along the way and provide the most up-to-date insurance data and trends so that you can make the best decisions for your family. You may not be able to avoid accidents, but you can still have peace of mind.


We analyzed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) records on civil penalties for defective items and compared it to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to see which companies and products were most penalized, and compared that to which products caused the most injuries.

First, we analyzed which products in the NEISS database were responsible for the most injuries. We found similar items in the CPSC database and compared injuries as recorded by emergency rooms against the number of civil suits as well as the total amount of civil penalty fines.

Our analysis aims to look at the items that injured the most people, as well as those items that were reported and fined as defective. Because the NEISS data used spanned from 2006 to 2017, and the CPSC data presented go as far back as 1977, there are some limitations on our analysis. There are also limitations due to a disparity in product codes between the NEISS and the CPSC, and we matched products based on matching or similar descriptions. We also analyzed fine amounts and the number of civil penalties for defective products.


Fair Use Statement

Interested in sharing our study for noncommercial purposes? Wary consumers are welcome to link to our study, but please give us proper credit for our work

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