Retailers always seek the big Christmas gift hit, whether it’s Star Wars toys, video game consoles or Tickle Me Elmo. They hope to cash in on the latest craze, and most years that craze is fairly benign. This year one of the most famous items on wish lists became one of the most infamous, the hoverboard, because those using it often fall and suffer injuries and while recharging the devices are known to burst into flames.
The hoverboard doesn’t hover. It’s a two-wheeled, battery-powered scooter which is supposed to be self-balancing. Getting off is especially challenging, and while most of the reported injuries have been minor, there could be serious injuries, depending on how you fall off and what you land on.
The federal government is investigating at least 22 reports of hoverboards catching fire, according to CNN/Money. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also looking into 70 reports of emergency room visits due to falls from hoverboards. The Commission has issued a warning concerning hoverboards, which states, “Some of these injuries have been serious, including concussions, fractures, contusions/abrasions, and internal organ injuries. Always wear a proper helmet and padding while using this product.”
United Kingdom consumer protection officials found that of 17,000 hoverboards imported from outside the European Union, 88% failed to meet basic safety standards, according to the Guardian. Thousands of hoverboards have been impounded at the country’s ports due to safety fears.
People and families in New Jersey and across the country have been impacted by these dangerous toys, as described below:
- A re-charging hoverboard is blamed for a fire that destroyed a house in Lafitte, Louisiana. Jessica Horne purchased one for her 12-year-old son in November. She told local media that she was aware of the risk of injuries due to falls but didn’t know about possible fires. Horne said one day after first using it, her son plugged it in to re-charge and flames shot out from both ends. She described it as being like fireworks, and within minutes her home was in flames. Luckily there were no reported injuries because of the fire, but if it had occurred at night while the family was sleeping, or if for some reason someone was unable to get out of the house, serious injuries or deaths could have occurred.
- A home in Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey, was damaged in a hoverboard related fire in December.
- Hoverboard falls caused at least three serious head injuries in the weekend after Christmas in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, according to the Advocate. Dr. Charles Bowie, a neurosurgeon at The Neuromedical Center in Baton Rouge said he saw two children and an adult who suffered head injuries after they crashed while riding their new hoverboards. Two other local hospitals reported 19 hoverboard related injuries ranging from arm and leg pain to broken bones and cuts.
- Long Island orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mitchel Keschner told News 12 Long Island he’s seen 20 to 30 patients with injuries due to hoverboard use, including broken bones.
Manufacturers, distributors and sellers of hoverboards are facing possible liability due to injuries from falls as well as for injuries and property damage caused by fires. These devices may be subject to product liability lawsuits because they appear to be hazardous even when they’re used as intended. If you live in New Jersey and you suffered injuries while using a hoverboard or property damage due to a fire started by one, call the Law Offices of James C. DeZao at (973) 358-6134 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about what happened, how the law may apply and your best options to collect compensation.