Hoverboards Making Headlines

Officials at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in South Florida has reported to have treated 54 combined patients with injuries related to hoverboards from December 15 to January 9. The orthopedic team has treated 42 children for fractures in that time, hospital officials said. These injuries include everything from spinal fractures and facial lacerations to head trauma with concussions and contusions [1].

Other problems associated with this device including overheating and even exploding to the point of fire. Last month, a Boca Raton woman told police that her daughter was playing on a hoverboard, when it got hot and burst into flames. Deputy Chief Greg Hoggatt said the hoverboard was plugged in and charging when it caught fire. “It popped and cracked and then it caught fire,” Hoggatt said. “A neighbor was able to grade the unit and throw it outside.”[2]

Both of these alarming facts about hoverboards are a part of a whole scheme of scenarios that have become the norm due to the popularity of hoverboards as well as the lack of guidelines set forth by governmental agencies to regulate them.

UL, a global independent safety science company that helps with consumer products stated, “UL has yet to certify any hoverboards for safety. Further, UL certification of components such as a battery pack or power supply in hoverboards is different from the certification of the hoverboards themselves. For technology that use lithium-ion batteries, it is important to understand the interaction among components and UL has yet to evaluate any power supplies or battery packs in a hoverboard system.”

Statement From U.S. CPSC Chairman on Hoverboards

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is presently and actively investigating a number of companies that make or sell hoverboards. They’ve been trying to find the root cause of the hoverboard fires that have occurred throughout the country. The lithium-ion battery mentioned is being tested in laboratories and other outside experts are verifying safer designs for the use of lithium-ion batteries in hoverboards. There are certain basic safety technologies that the CPSC expect the units to have that should prevent overheating and potential combustion. These are the same readily-available technologies that exist in properly manufactured lithium-ion batteries used in the notebook computers and cell phones we all use every day.

However, the agency points out that although there are fire hazards, based on the increasing number of serious injuries and emergency room visits associated with these products, they are also expanding their investigation of the falls associated with hoverboards.

Fall Injuries

The current design of hoverboards may not fully displace the weight of different users, making certain units susceptible to moving suddenly with improper weight distribution. This can happen with the hoverboards speeding up, lurching forward in a matter that would throw a user off balance, or turn in an opposite direction from what the user expected from their own weight. Even on a product that presents itself with the possibility of falling, the increasing number should warn people about the nature of these products to haphazardly change direction or move in a way that’s different from what the user wanted.

As seen from the report from the Children’s Hospital in South Florida, children are falling and fracturing growing bones. Additionally, even young adults and adults with more coordination are also experiencing fall injuries. It’s important to understand that fall injuries can be serious and life-altering. Wearing proper safety equipment one would wear on a skateboard or rollerblading would be an effective way to protect oneself from a fall. The spikes of people in hospitals should give you reason for such protection. Head injuries are life-altering and can be fatal. Falls that produce spinal injuries or back and neck problems are also life-altering and can lead to death. Hoverboards are fun in the moment but can end up costing a lot more than intended.

The injuries are not only threatening to the person on the unit but also to the company who sold it or to the place in which the accident occurred. This is why Amazon is voluntarily stepping up and providing a free remedy and putting customer safety first by banning the product as well as offering a refund for purchased products. More than 60 airlines have also banned hoverboards from being taken on their flights—either as carry-on items or in checked luggage—because of concerns about the scooters’ lithium-ion batteries, which we’ve learned are potentially combustible. Some of these airlines include, Virgin Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines.

Colleges are also stepping up and are banning the usage of hoverboards on campus. These bans and partial bans started in December and have grown to more than 30 schools. Some of these schools include Boston College, George Washington University and no other than the University of Florida. In fact, the University of Florida’s Police Department will issue citations to hoverboard riders in bike lanes and streets. There will also be action against student who use it in residence halls or office buildings [3].

Dolman Law Group

If the injuries and random combustions or explosions didn’t warn you off enough, companies, colleges and airlines are banning them period. Hoverboards, while popular at home, are dangerous to children and adults who end up with life-altering injuries. From the U.S. SPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye, “…there are no safety standards for these products. That is unacceptable. I am pleased to report that both ASTM International and UL are preparing to work on the development of standards for hoverboards that would seek to address both types of hazards.”

He continued, “In the meantime, I urge consumers to continue to use caution with hoverboards: having a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using these boards in and around your home; charge in an open area away from combustible materials; gear up before riding, which means putting on a skateboard helmet, elbow and knee pads and wrist guards; and don’t use a hoverboard on or near a road.”

We at Dolman Law Group agree with everything that the chairman has warned against. The fact is, fall injuries are dangerous because of the many types of injuries that stem from a hard fall. While it may be fun to cruise around, serious consequences necessitating medical attention, pain and suffering, lost wages and liability are called into question. Even though it is marketed as a children’s product, whether an adult or a child uses it, the danger is pretty clear. The expense from the mentioned consequences can be pretty substantial. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been involved in a hoverboard-related accident, please do not hesitate to call our office for help. We have experienced product-liability attorneys ready to assist you in your time of need. Call us at (727) 853-6275 today.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/product-liability-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Hoverboard-Injuries-Soaring-Nicklaus-Childrens-Hospital-365151891.html
[2] http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/boynton-beach/fl-boynton-hoverboard-fire-20160129-story.html
[3] http://www.wuft.org/news/2016/01/11/university-of-florida-joins-colleges-banning-hoverboards/

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