Last month, consumers clamored to chain stores, mall kiosks and online vendors, hoping to snap up a hoverboard, the holiday season’s hottest commodity item. Many of those consumers are now likely regretting it.
Accounts of user injuries attributed to falls and spontaneous combustion have been soaring as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched an investigation into product safety. Emergency rooms across the country have been packed with personal injuries stemming from the popular gift, while several retailers pulled them from shelves.
Although the two-wheeled, self-balancing boards don’t actually hover, they are motorized and can accelerate at speeds of up to 12 miles-per-hour. Safety concerns regarding the boards first started cropping up with regard to fires. The CPSC says it’s received more than two dozen reports of the devices catching fire after being fully charged. One of those cases was reported by the mother of an 11-year-old girl in Boca Raton. She was not injured, but others have been. The agency is still investigating, but suspects that problem may have something to do with the type of batteries used.
But there is a bigger issue: Falls. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports there have been nearly 50 hoverboard injuries in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties just in the handful of days after Christmas.
Some of these injuries are no worse than scrapes and bruises. However, some kids are coming into the emergency room with concussions, fractured wrists and broken arms. It’s not just kids either. A number of adults too have gotten themselves in trouble with it, and videos posted with the hashtag #hoverboardfail shows countless moms and dads and even grandparents testing out the device – only to lose their balance and crash to the ground.
As far as liability goes, it will depend on the individual case. For example, if the board caught fire but no one got hurt, it’s likely consumers can take up the issue on their own and request a refund from the manufacturer or retailer.
However, if someone got seriously hurt (i.e., broken bones, head injury, etc.), it may be worth asking a personal injury lawyer to get involved. Most likely the type of claim we would be looking at would be one of strict products liability. This is a theory of products liability that allows all of those in the marketing chain (i.e., manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers) to be held responsible for selling a product that was unsafe. This is probably why retail giants like Target and Amazon.com pulled the plug on the product so quickly.
A plaintiff asserting strict products liability doesn’t have to show defendant was negligent. Rather, they just need to show they placed a defective/dangerous product on the market and that product caused injury. A product can be considered “defective” if it was defectively manufactured, inherently flawed by design or didn’t have an adequate warning of safety hazards about which the company knew or should have known.
In the case of hoverboards, it’s important to note that there are no safety standards in place. So one might argue that consumers don’t have an expectation of safety. However, there have been numerous advertisements used by both manufacturers and retailers that promise the boards are safe. They use words and phrases like, “stable,” “super smooth” and “so easy,” indicating novices can learn to ride in less than a minute. Many are finding that untrue. The CPSC has reported even riders with experience can suddenly fall off when they’re using it normally.
If you have been injured in a hoverboard fall in Florida, contact our offices to learn more about how we can help you obtain compensation.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Manufacturer may be liable for hoverboard injuries, Jan. 7, 2015, By Christopher B. Dolan, San Francisco Examiner
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