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New York Lawyers Discuss NY Law on Furniture and TV Tip Over Accident Injuries and Deaths in Children

New York lawmakers must focus on manufacturers and sellers, not just parents and caregivers, to prevent child accidents, injuries and death from furniture and appliance tip over accidents.

Facts and Figures: Falling TVs and Furniture in Tip Over Accident Cases  

Every two weeks, a child dies in a tip over accident when a TV, piece of furniture or appliance falls on them, according to the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Consumer Affairs.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), every year, about 38,000 children are sent to emergency rooms with tip over accident related injuries. Sixty five percent of the tip over accidents involved TVs falling.

The tip over accident usually happens when a TV or other heavy piece of furniture is not safely balanced or secured. The child (usually younger than 5 years old) climbs on the furniture, which makes it tip over. The heavy TV or furniture falls. Injuries to the head and neck are most common.

Government tests of tip over accidents showed that up to 12,700 pounds of force hits a child when a large, unanchored TV falls off a dresser.  Older TVs with cathode ray tubes usually fall screen-first and with greater force because of their weight. Flatscreen TVs fall at odd angles.  Flatscreen TVs are usually less heavy but can also cause injuries and death. Flatscreen TVs are also growing larger which adds to the force when they fall.

New York Lawmakers Pass Tip Over Accident Law 

In 2015, New York lawmakers passed a bill to begin a public awareness campaign about unsecured furniture and appliances. The legislation is called the “Unsecured Furniture Public Awareness Campaign” and was sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz from the Bronx and Republican Senator Patty Ritchie of Northern New York.

Under the law, New York’s Consumer Protection Division will develop a campaign about tip over dangers from furniture and appliances.  The New York public awareness campaign about tipover accidents will begin in April of 2016.

We have little information yet about what New York State’s Consumer Protection Division will do. The law does not apparently authorize New York’s commission to do more than raise awareness and draft reports.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said that “By requiring the state to create a public awareness campaign focused on tip over deaths, we’re increasing the likelihood that parents will take the necessary steps to prevent any future tragedies caused by toppling furniture or televisions.”

Senator Ritchie said she has seen her children and grandchildren climbing on furniture and had no idea of the serious risks.

  1. Why are lawmakers just speak to the parents though?
  2. Where is the business community’s responsibility?

The National Approach: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tip Over Accident Injuries and Death 

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has campaigned for years about the danger of furniture and appliances falling on small children. The Commission sends a message to both sides, businesses and consumers.

To consumers, the CPSC says:

  1. Place TVs only on stable surfaces
  2. Secure TVs and furniture with straps
  3. Put TVs on low surfaces
  4. Think about throwing away or recycling your old cathode ray tube (CRT) TV.

To sellers and manufacturers, the CPSC says:

  1. Train sales staff to always inform consumers about tip over accident dangers and how to prevent tip over accidents
  2. Use in-store displays to remind shoppers of the risk of tip over accidents with certain items
  3. Give consumers free straps to secure TVs and furniture
  4. Offer incentives for owners of old TVs to dispose of them when they buy a new flatscreen TV.

How Businesses Can Protect Kids and Prevent Injuries and Death

The American Home Furnishing Alliance cites the US CPSC and recommends that manufacturers design furniture and appliances to be safer.

The manufacturer can properly balance TV’s and appliances so that minimal tipping will not cause the entire thing to fall over. For example manufacturers can use a wider base on the TV or furniture so it does not tip as easily. Manufacturers can install drawer locks to prevent falling dressers when a child opens several drawers at once.

With little added cost, manufacturers and sellers can supply every single person who buys a heavy piece of furniture or big appliance (like a big TV), with devices like straps and wall locks to prevent it from falling. The American Home Furnishings Alliance offers a free furniture tip restraint.

The manufacturer and seller can train sales staff and installers on tip over accident prevention.

The manufacturer and seller can add child safety warnings to every piece of furniture or alliance with tip over risks.

Better design, anti-tip devices, fall protection, and helpful warnings and instructions with tip-hazard products will do more to prevent tip over accidents than just advertising to parents and consumers.

Accident Lawyers Advocate For Consumer Friendly Tip Over Accident Laws 

Fisher Injury Lawyers represent consumers, parents, families, and kids in courts throughout the country in negligence and product liability cases.

When a child is hurt or killed in a tip over accident, parents should not be unfairly blamed without looking carefully at the manufacturers and sellers who built, assembled, advertised, and sold these these things for homes where kids play.

If you have questions about a child injury or tip over accident, call Fisher Injury Lawyers.  All consultations are free and confidential.


Tip Over Accidents Cause Child Injuries and Death

Tip Over Accidents Cause Child Injuries and Death (Credit US CPSC)