Hoverboards - Did You Place A Hazard Under Your Tree?

As the holidays are winding down, there may be a hazard in your home that you did not even anticipate. This hazard could possibly be one of the many toys your child received during this holiday season. In 2014, approximately 251,800 toy-related injuries were severe enough to warrant treatment in an Emergency room in this country. The toys that were associated with the most injuries in children under the age of 15 were non-motorized scooters, so what will happen when one of the hottest toys of the season is a self-balancing two-wheeled board? Will this toy put your child at risk of a slip and fall accident? Who will be liable; you, or the maker of the product?

What Is A Self-Balancing Two-Wheeled Board?

A self--balancing two-wheeled board or scooter that is sometimes referred to as a hoverboard, has proven to be one of the most in demand items of the holiday season. It is built with two wheels side by side, which support two small platforms where the rider balances themselves or stands. It comes with no handlebars, or brakes, and is purely controlled by the positioning and pressure of the rider's feet on the gyroscopic sensor pads.

Basically, you lean forward to go forward, and you lean back to slow down, or to come to a stop. More pressure with one foot or the other will have you executing turns and going in circles. The boards can range in speeds of up to 10 mph and can go 10 to 15 miles on a charge. They can range in price from $300 to approximately $2,000, depending on which board you purchase and who you purchase it from.

There are numerous manufacturers of these devices, and there is some dispute as to which company was the first to bring the product to market. Since it was first seen in China in 2014, it has been made widely popular in the United States primarily through celebrity endorsements. Some of these celebrities include:

  • Justin Bieber
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Wiz Khalifa
  • Kendall Jenner
  • Chris Brown and many others

Although often called a hoverboard, it only remotely resembles the original hoverboards that were seen in Back to the Future movies. It actually does not have the ability to hover. 

What Are The Dangers Of A Two-Wheeled Self-Balancing Board?

Unfortunately, this board comes with a wide range of safety issues.

Your board could catch on fire. One of the first issues to hit the media is the fact that some of these boards present a fire risk. It has been reported that boards have overheated, exploded, or caught fire as a result of malfunctioning batteries and plugs.

This concern has caused countries such as Britain to seize many of the boards coming into its country, and some manufacturers have already issued recalls on boards they have recently produced. Other online retailers have also removed the boards from their inventory until the sellers of the boards can confirm that the boards that are being offered meets all of the safety requirements.

Not only does this concern put you and your home at risk of fire when your board is charging, it can also put you or your child at risk of injury if your board overheats or catches fire when you are riding it. If you have purchased a board, especially one from online or from overseas, ensure that it has been inspected and meets the required safety requirements to be sold in the U.S. Look for an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified adapters and authorized lithium-ion batteries.

Your board could put you at risk of a physical fall. Although riding a hoverboard appears to be fairly simple, it actually requires you to be able to balance, and have pretty tight core muscles to stay upright on your board. The most common injuries being seen in the emergency room include:

  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Lacerations
  • Head injuries and more

The faster a person rides, the higher their risk of injury. If you or your child are going to ride a hoverboard, you need to at least invest in and use the same level of protection that you would for a skateboard. At minimum, you need to ensure you are wearing a helmet plus knee and elbow pads.

Minimize any distractions while riding the board. Do not attempt to talk on your cell phone or listen to music. You need to focus and concentrate on riding your board.

Do not ride your board around others until you feel confident in your abilities to control your board. Falling off your board in a crowd will not only put you at risk, but could put others around you at risk of tripping and falling.

Only ride your board where it is legal to do so. Many cities and states have already begun to put regulations in place to limit where these boards can be ridden. Riding in an area where they are not authorized may result in you being ticketed and fined.

If you experience an injury, or a fire as a result of owning a hoverboard, you may want to consult a slip and fall attorney. One of the first class-action suits have already been filed due to a fire. Your attorney will be able to review your case and assist you in seeking damages. These damages may come from the manufacturer, the retailer, or even both. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the best route to take. For more information, contact an attorney like Putnam Lieb.