Injury or Fire by a Hooverboard?
Hoverboards are the latest craze in toys. Known as self-balancing scooters, hoverboards are electric, self-balancing skateboards that operate on rechargeable batteries. The boards are sold online, in stores and at kiosks in malls and are priced between $400 and $1,500. As of this date, there are many companies that sell these devices under various brand names including Swagway, Fiturbo, Hover Boost, iWalk, Smart Drifter and numerous others.
Unlike a Segway which has a handle bar, the hoverboard requires greater balancing skills and control of your center of gravity. These devices can travel speeds of ten to twelve miles an hour and rapidly accelerate creating an incredibly unstable platform for the novice or unfamiliar user.
This toy is suddenly available everywhere and everyone wants one. Emergency rooms and urgent care centers are becoming swamped with hoverboard injuries. Social media has become jammed with viral videos of hoverboard falls (or fails as they are referred to) including those of celebrities like Mike Tyson and Brandi Glanville. Tragically, in addition to fractured wrists, arms and elbows, there have been reports of much more serious head injuries including a Coral Gables, Florida father who suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage when he fell backwards onto his head and is presently in a coma with no brain activity.
In London England, a 15 year old boy, inexperienced on his new hoverboard, lost his balance and fell into the street in the path of an oncoming bus. His death is the first reported hoverboard related fatality. A witness to the tragedy said the young man did not look confident on the board and was lunging forward and backwards before it threw him, face first into the road.
These “toys” are unstable and dangerous devices that require warnings, training and mandatory safety gear such as helmets and padding. As if this danger was not enough, hoverboards are now the subject of numerous fires.
Inexpensive lithium-ion batteries are causing hoverboards to catch on fire while charging. There are reports of homes being burned down and the boards overheating, exploding and catching fire. Knock-off products are using cheap lithium-ion batteries that present significant risks.
Major airlines and many colleges and universities have banned hoverboards due to the risk of fire. Air Canada recently stated it will no longer allow hoverboards on flights. The perceived fire risk caused actor Russel Crowe to go on a twitter tirade after Virgin Australia flight attendants refused to let his children board the plane with their hoverboards. The actor was attempting to fly from Sidney to Coffs Harbour with his children when he was informed that he could not bring the goods on board following recent rule changes surrounding lithium batteries and their flammability. After directing a series of angry tweets toward the airline, the 51 year old left the airport with his children without having checked in for the flight. Now American Airlines, Delta and United have also rejected hoverboards from flights. “Poorly labeled, powerful lithium-ion batteries powering hoverboards are the issue”, Delta officials said in an online statement. Delta reviewed hoverboard product specifications and found that manufactures do not consistently provide details about the size or power of their lithium-ion batteries. Dubai’s Emirates Airline bans them from being checked in with luggage on flights because their batteries contain lithium.
In England, 15,000 hoverboards were seized by the UK customs agents due to fire concerns. The United States Customs and Board of Protection recently seized more than 200 Chinese made hoverboards outfitted with bootleg and potentially dangerous batteries at Port Miami. Apparently, these hoverboards labeled “smart balance wheel” were found in a shipping container from China. The batteries were labeled “LG” but customs officers discovered they were not actually produced by the well-known electronics company.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said at the end of 2015 it was looking into at least ten reports of the self-balancing electric scooters bursting into flames due to inferior quality lithium-ion batteries. They also had 70 complaints involving injuries.
Safety concerns have also caused businesses across the country to ban the devices. This year the Carolina Panthers forbade players from riding the scooters in the team’s facility.
Hoverboard Injury Has Led to Many Lawsuits
The rise in popularity has led to many patent lawsuits, with the RAZOR Company leading the way against suspected imposters.
New York City has banned hoverboards and police have cautioned they would write $500 tickets for violations. In Canada the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has issued significant restriction on the use of hoverboads. “All motorized skateboards, regardless of whether the rider is using gas or electric motor power, are deemed to be motor vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA)”, a spokeman for the ministry said in a statement. “However these vehicles do not meet the provincial equipment safety standards for on-road highway use. These vehicles may only be operated where the HTA does not apply, such as on private property”. The City of Toronto says hoverboards are not allowed on sidewalks, common roads or even bike paths.
Even Saturday Night Live jumped on the band wagon recently creating a parody ad with lines such as “since hoverboads are banned from streets and sidewalks, they are perfect for riding in your house”. The popularity of hoverboads is overwhelming. Celebrities love them; with Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa and Kendal Jenner all posting videos on social media riding hoverboards. The problem is vendors, stores, dealers and merchants are neither explaining the dangers nor providing any meaningful warnings to the consumer.
Our Hoverboard Injury Lawyers in Miami Will Help
Risk of injury and or risk of fire must be communicated by the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer. A store should require purchaser of a hoverboard to receive basic education, training and warnings about the device. The failure to communicate these important facts and warnings may result in the seller being responsible or liable for the injuries and damages the device causes.
Recently the Florida Supreme Court changed the law with regard to product liability. The court held that the consumer expectation test is the proper way to judge strict liability design defects in a product liability case.
Florida has long imposed strict liability in conformity with the principals set forth in the second restatement of torts which applies the “consumer expectations test”. That test considers whether a product is unreasonably dangerous in design because it failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used or intended in a reasonably forseable manner.
Contact our Hoverboard Injury Lawyers in Miami
Hoverboards can result in significant injury, property damage and even death. There is more than ample information available throughout social media, television, newspaper stories and magazine articles to alert those in the business of selling hoverboards that the consumer needs protection from these potentially dangerous devices. As an attorney that practices injury law in North Miami Florida, my firm is investigating hoverboard accidents and hoverboard property damage claims. As a Miami hoverboard law firm we welcome the chance to discuss a potential hoverboard accident claim with you. Initial consultations are always free of charge and our law firm has the ability to speak with you in English, Spanish, Creole and Russian. Please consider us your North Miami Beach hoverboard law attorneys or Miami hoverboard lawyers.