Flat-screen TVs are common household items that can sometimes be involved in different home accidents and injuries. Due to their shape and size, flat-screen televisions are often mounted on walls or placed on shelves or cabinets. Although they are smaller in dimensions than older TV models, they can still be relatively heavy, especially super-sized ones.
Some common flat-screen TV accidents include:
- Accidents in which the TV falls off a tall piece of furniture or a mounting device and onto a person, often a child, who is injured as a result;
- Accidents involving electric shock, electrocution, or electrical fires. These can lead to injuries and possibly death. Of course, property damage is another possible consequence;
- Injuries resulting from a flat-screen TV tip-over. For example, if an overly large TV is standing on a dresser or other surface without being secured, it can easily fall over.
Of course, as with any other device, accidents can happen in all kinds of unexpected ways. A TV screen might shatter, and flying debris might injure someone.
In some cases, these injuries can be serious, especially if the person suffers an injury to the head, neck, or other vital areas of the body.
Experts recommend that people take a few simple measures to ensure their TVs are safely mounted to the wall. They should also show their children how to change the channel if the remote is unavailable safely. And tell children it is unsafe to stand on chairs or other furniture to reach the TV.
Any TV, even older models, should not be placed on top of tall furniture or furniture that is not a stable base for the TV. The goal is to ensure that the TV cannot fall on anyone. Generally, TVs should be positioned on top of low, stable, solid bases.
Reportedly, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, people have been killed by falling TVs most of whom are children. Thousands of people are injured every year by falling TV sets. So, it is a significant consumer product safety issue.
Who Can Be Liable for Injuries Resulting from Flat Screen TVs?
Who can be liable for injuries from a flat-screen TV accident depends on the exact circumstances of the accident. If the flat screen TV itself is defective in some way, the manufacturer and distributors of the TV might be liable if the defect makes it dangerous for people. For example, a TV might have been produced with a wiring defect that creates a risk of an electrical fire. In this example, the manufacturer might be liable under a product defect theory of law.
Or the company that produces defective mounting frames or hardware might be liable for injuries if the mounting mechanism fails because it is defective. Also, a contractor responsible for installing flat screen TVs may be liable if they install a unit negligently and fail. For example, a TV might have been installed incorrectly in a restaurant or other similar establishment and injure a patron.
The types of product defects that often lead to lawsuits are generally categorized in three ways as follows:
- Design Defects: Designers of products may design dangerous defects into the product without even knowing they have done so;
- Manufacturing Defects: Anywhere in the manufacturing process of a product, a defect may result from some fault in the manufacturing process of which the factory operators are not aware;
- Warning Defects: Warning defects involve instructions for assembly, instructions for use, and warnings to consumers about how and how not to use the product to avoid creating risks of harm. To be successful in a strict product liability lawsuit, a person has to prove that the product had a particular defect and that the defect directly caused an injury to the person.
Another option might be a lawsuit for negligence. For example, if a person had a large flat screen TV installed on a wall and it is mounted on a device of some sort attached to the wall and the device fails, a person might have grounds for a lawsuit for negligence against the contractor who installed the device and the TV.
If successful, the victim can recover compensatory damages that cover the victim’s economic losses, such as the cost of treating their injury and lost wages if they cannot work because of their injury. An award of damages might also cover non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
What Are the Legal Remedies for Flat Screen Injury Cases?
If a person suffers a significant injury in an accident involving a flat-screen TV, they may have to file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages. If successful, these cases can lead to an award of compensatory damages as the legal remedy for the injured party. Compensatory damages cover the victim’s economic losses, such as the cost of treating their injury and lost wages if the person cannot work because of their injury. An award of damages might also cover non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
In cases where a particular TV model poses a risk of injury to consumers, a flat-screen TV recall may be issued.
If a person’s injuries are relatively minor but have still caused them losses, either economic or non-economic, a person might negotiate a settlement of some kind with the manufacturer or a negligent installer. Or a person could file a lawsuit on their own in a small claims court, where people can represent themselves, and the damages they seek might be in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 only.
Are There Any Defenses to Claims of Negligence or Strict Product Liability?
The problem is that a consumer’s own negligence might have contributed to an accident and the resulting injury.
In the case of strict product liability, one defense is modification. With the modification defense, the manufacturer or distributor claims that the customer modified the product after the customer took possession and did so in such a way that affected its use or safety. The basic idea is that the customer’s modification transformed the product, relieving the manufacturer of responsibility for any defect.
Another defense available to the manufacturer or distributor is that the customer used the product in a way that was not intended or could have been foreseen. Again, the idea is that the manufacturer and distributor can be relieved of liability because the customer used the product in a way that was not predictable and never intended.
If a person was injured because their TV fell on them, a manufacturer or distributor might well make use of the modification or improper use defenses and argue that the person was responsible for the accident in which they were injured.
A person sued for negligence can claim that the injured person was comparatively or contributorily negligent and thus at least partially responsible for the accident in which they were injured.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Flat Screen TV Issue?
Injury claims, such as those involving flat screens, can be complex. You may want to consult a defective products lawyer in your area if you have been injured in some way by a flat-screen TV. Your attorney can review your situation’s facts and advise you on how you should proceed to seek a remedy for your losses.