US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a letter on February 18, 2016 threatening to require a recall of all self-balancing scooters that do not meet new UL safety standards for electrical systems. In the same letter the CPSC stated that any imported shipment of non-compliant scooters would be subject to detention and seizure. This requirement for compliance with the new safety standards is their “responsibility to protect consumers from unreasonable risks of injury and death from consumer’s products.”
This action is in response to reports that there have been over 52 reported fires in 24 states from self-igniting lithium battery packs. This combustion usually occurred when the lithium ion batteries were being charged. Two homes and one car were completely destroyed. Property damage nationwide has exceeded $2 million. These fires all occurred between December 1, 2015 and February 17, 2016. It is suggested that all hover boards, as they commonly called, be returned to the retailer and a refund be demanded. At least one retailer, Amazon, said that they would accept all returns.
Risk of Injury
In addition to the risk of fires there have been large amount of injuries associated with falls from hoverboards, many of which were caused by lack of training or defective parts. In South Florida alone, over 25 injuries were reported between Christmas and New Years that required a trip to the emergency room. The most common injuries were broken wrists or arms. One injury was to a Florida congressman who received a fractured arm after attempting to ride a hoverboard belonging to a younger member of the family. Due to the fact that the rider of a hoverboard rides with a parallel stance, a sudden stop from a low barrier will propel the rider face first. To break the fall the rider will use his hands to protect his face, causing wrist and arm injuries. Experts recommend that the new hover-board owner should practice in a park or on a green and wear protective gear such as a helmet, knee and elbow pads.
New York City has banned the self-balancing scooters from the streets and sidewalks. California limits their use to bike paths and streets with speed limits on 35 MPH or less. They have also been banned from most airlines, shopping malls and many university campuses.
How Will Future Lawsuits be Affected?
The news media has widely broadcast the contents of the letter about the new CPSC safety requirements for hoverboards. The letter is saying, in so many words, that no hoverboard is safe. That is because the safety standards were adopted by UL after countless numbers of these boards were sold by a dozen different makers in the US and abroad. Hoverboards were the most popular high end Christmas gift in 2015. If a person does not heed the warnings and continues to use one of these non-compliant products and is injured, or has property destroyed from fire, can that person hold the manufacturer or retailer legally responsible? To determine whether there was negligence on the part of the seller or maker requires an experienced product liability lawyer. It can’t be assumed that because warnings were scattered across the media that everyone heard and understood them. A product liability lawyer must prove however that the manufacturer or seller knew of a defect, or the dangers of operation, and did not offer adequate warnings.
If you were injured or had property destroyed due to the use of a hoverboard, you may be entitled to receive compensation. Contact a product liability attorney at Dolman Law Group today for a free evaluation of your case. Call today at (727) 853-6275.
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