New Jersey Hoverboard Lawyers
Hoverboards are an increasingly common sight on city streets across the country. These futuristic looking gadgets can be described as a cross between a skateboard and a Segway—they do not actually hover as their name implies. Rather, riders balance on a flat horizontal skateboard powered by a gyroscopic motor that enables the rider to move forward, self-balance and turn. A recent addition to the marketplace, hoverboards go by many different names including: self-balancing scooters, Swagways, personal transporters and gyro-boards. They can retail from anywhere between $200 to $1800.
Consumers must be careful. Hoverboards are currently unregulated in the United States. The surge in their popularity has happened so quickly that lawmakers are struggling to catch up and develop regulations to ensure the public’s safety. Cheap copycat brands are flooding the marketplace, and over the past few months, these products have been exploding, causing personal injury and property damage.
If you or your child has been harmed by a faulty or exploding hoverboard, we can help. The professional product liability lawyers at Shebell & Shebell will defend your rights as a consumer, and get you compensation for any injuries or property damage you have suffered.
What Makes Hoverboards So Dangerous?
The Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recently addressed the public regarding the risks of hoverboards. Although the exact cause of hoverboard fires has not yet been determined, the CPSC acknowledges that hoverboards have caught fire during charging, and also while being used. The CPSC has also expressed that it has received dozens of calls from hospital emergency rooms reporting hoverboard fall incidents. The CPSC is concerned because there are no safety standards in place for use of the product.
Self-balancing scooters have several components that enable them to maintain their pitch and balance, including a gyroscope, several microprocessors and two or more independent motors. All of this hardware is powered by a lithium ion battery that is housed in the same unit. These batteries present the greatest risk of harm. Lithium ion batteries are present in many electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones. But when these batteries are overcharged or manufactured improperly, a phenomenon called “thermal runaway” can occur. Thermal runaway happens when the temperature inside the battery melts the lithium inside, causing a dangerous chemical reaction. Because hoverboards tend to be made of plastic, the heat can cause the plastic to melt and catch fire. When the heat comes into contact with other internal components, spontaneous explosions can occur.
In addition to the risk of fire and explosion, users can fall off of hoverboards if the internal stabilizing components malfunction.
Another problem with hoverboards is that fly-by-night manufacturers are flooding the market with cheap knock-offs. These products often sell for less than their tested, safer competitors. Consumer website CNET has advised that consumers avoid buying any hoverboards that cost less than $300 due to the likely use of poor quality materials.
Some of the most common injuries that are being caused by hoverboards include:
- Property damage: when hoverboards are plugged in to charge, they can catch fire and spontaneously explode, setting fire to a person’s home
- Burns: hoverboards can catch fire and explode while being ridden. Riders and others in the vicinity can be burned by the fire, or injured by flying pieces of plastic and metal
- Traumatic brain injury
- Organ damage
- Bone fractures
Hoverboard Accidents In the News
- On December 9, 2015, a hover board exploded inside of a suburban shopping mall near Seattle, Washington. Witnesses reported that sparks were “shooting up like fireworks.”
- The United Kingdom has banned hoverboards from public roads and sidewalks, citing safety concerns.
- On December 1, 2015, a family in Louisiana reported that a hoverboard battery spontaneously combusted while being charged, engulfing their entire home in flames after only a few minutes.
- In Florida, a man recorded his hoverboard as it burned, melted, then finally exploded on his driveway. Another video of a hover board catching fire in a park has gone viral, and was recently featured on ABC’s World News Tonight.
- In Gulf Shores, Alabama, a man reported that his hoverboard malfunctioned, threw him off the board, then caught fire and exploded.
- New York City has banned hoverboards citing safety concerns. Violations are punishable by civil fines.
- According to the New York Times, some property owners, including commercial retail establishments, have banned hoverboards for liability reasons.
- A law has been passed in California permitting “electric-powered boards” to be ridden in bike lanes and pathways so commuters can avoid interaction and collisions with cars and bicycles. Riders must be at least 15 and wear safety gear, including a helmet.
- The University of California has banned hoverboards from campus after pedestrians complained about collisions.
- com has advised customers to take certain brands purchased on their website (those with “non-compliant” plugs) to their local electronics recycling center. Amazon has promised a refund to customers who have purchased the voluntarily recalled products.
Safety Considerations When Buying a Hoverboard
If you are planning on purchasing a hoverboard, consider the following safety tips:
- Do your research and buy from a reputable company
- Make sure that the product meets fire and safety standards – look for chargers that are UL listed. This indicates that the toy meets at least one U.S. safety standard.
- Observe the hoverboard whenever it is charging
- Only use the approved cord that comes with the unit
- Follow the manufacturers charging instructions
- Do not overcharge
- Allow the toy to cool down before re-charging
- Make sure it comes with a warranty
- Wear safety equipment, including helmets, knee pads, and arm pads, similar to what you should wear when riding a bicycle
We Represent Victims Injured By Defective Hoverboards
Because hoverboards are made by many different manufacturers, it can be difficult to ascertain who is responsible for your faulty hoverboard. Some recovered hoverboards have been burned so badly that it is nearly impossible to determine even the make or model. The experienced product liability lawyers at Shebell & Shebell are highly skilled in investigating the source of a defective product, and holding the responsible parties accountable. If you or someone you love has been burned, fallen, or suffered property damage due to a faulty hoverboard, we can help. Call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.