But now, many of those recipients – and their parents – are far from smiling after reports of explosions, fires and other mishaps involving the devices – which, despite the name, don’t actually “hover” off the ground. They are better described as self-balancing, motorized scooters.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported as of Dec. 29, there were 70 reports of emergency room visits nationwide due to falls and collisions. But there is evidence to suggest the actual figure is much higher.
Take for example the fact that as of that same day – just in North Carolina alone – there were 20 reports of hoverboard-related personal injuries. Of those, six occurred in Charlotte (including three on Christmas Day), 12 at WakeMed Raleigh and two at Cone Health in the Triad.
Most of these injuries sprains of arms and wrists, according to the Director of the Center for Injury Prevention at the Carolinas Medical Center. Problems occurred when people just learning to use the device were trying to catch themselves. She recommended practicing on soft grass and using wrist guards, elbow guards and a helmet.
But there some who are urging it shouldn’t be tried by consumers at all. Among those are officials with the Maudlin Fire Department in South Carolina, who responded to an explosion in a North Carolina home. According to CBS News, a teen had just finished charging the board when the batteries spontaneously combusted. They flew 20 feet across the room, lighting on fire a chair and the carpet underneath. Thankfully, no one was injured – but it was a close call.
In addition to the figure CPSC reported regarding hoverboard fall injuries, the agency further reports at least two dozen fires have been caused by exploding batteries. Numerous injuries have been reported, but so far, thankfully no deaths.
In England, shipping giant Amazon refused to fill orders for the devices after officials expressed grave concern over the lithium batteries, which have the potential to overheat and explode. It’s the same reason numerous airlines placed the drives on the “no-fly list.”
But the devices haven’t been recalled, and they’re still available for purchase in the U.S. This is despite statements made by officials warning owners not to charge the batteries overnight or even bring them to a full charge.
Meanwhile, a number of personal injury lawsuits against retailers have been filed. It’s worth noting that in product liability cases, retailers who sell the devices can be held as responsible as the manufacturers who make them. That’s because they are within the chain of distribution, and have a duty not to sell inherently dangerous products.
The device is manufactured in China, which makes litigation against them a bit tougher, though it’s not impossible. There are, however, a number of different manufacturers, and identifying exactly which one made a specific board could be tough.
In Alabama, a couple is suing a local hoverboard retailer who sold the device in a mall kiosk, alleging the batteries exploded while the device was charging.
In another case out of New York, plaintiffs are suing a sporting goods store as well as the manufacturer, alleging that device also exploded during the charging process.
How successful will these cases be? In truth, it comes down to whether there was an injury and the extent of that injury. Refunds may be in order where the devices fail or self-destruct, but that can usually be done without a lawyer. However, if you have been injured as a result of a hoverboard fire or fall, contact an attorney to review your options.
If you have been injured, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Authorities: Hoverboard explodes inside South Carolina home, Dec. 30, 2015, CBS/AP
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