Hoverboards exploded onto the market during the 2015 holiday season but have become engulfed in the flames of controversy as claims of serious personal injuries and property damage continue to rise. Commonly called a hoverboard, the personal transportation device is a two-wheeled, battery-operated, standing scooter. Each hoverboard has two, pressure-sensitive footpads that control speed and direction. While they seem innocent and fun, hoverboards pose serious fire and fall hazards.
The transportation devices utilize large lithium ion batteries which are claimed to have caught fire both while the hoverboards were in use or being charged. Claims of property damage have been made as a result of those fires. As of December 28, 2015, the federal government was investigating 22 reports of hoverboards "bursting into flames." Kelly, Heather. "Hoverboard Related Falls Spike for the Holidays." money.cnn.com. 28 Dec. 2015. Web. 6 Jan. 2016. <http://money.cnn.com/2015/12/28/technology/hoverboard-injuries-holidays/index.html>.
Hoverboards also pose a fall risk. By the end of 2015, the U.S. Product Safety Commission reported 70 emergency room visits as a result of injuries sustained while using a hoverboard. Id. Since the 2015 holiday season, hashtag #hoverboardfail has been trending on social media showing numerous people crashing down while riding the devices.
The U.S. Product Safety Commission warned of the serious risks and has issued the following recommendations for their purchase and use:
- Avoid buying the product at a location (like a mall kiosk) or on a website that does not have information about who is selling the product and how they can be contacted if there is a problem. If you do not think you could find the seller again, were a problem to arise with your board, that should be a warning to you not to do business with them.
- Do not charge a hoverboard overnight or when you are not able to observe the board.
- Charge and store in an open dry area away from combustibles (meaning items that can catch fire).
- Do not charge directly after riding. Let the device cool for an hour before charging.
- If giving a hoverboard to someone for the holidays, leave it in its partially charged state. Do not take it out of the package to bring it to a full charge and then wrap it back up. Often, the product comes partially charged. Leave it in that state until it is ready to be used.
- Look for the mark of a certified national testing laboratory. While this does not rule out counterfeits, the absence of such a mark means your safety is likely not a priority for that manufacturer.
- Do not ride near vehicular traffic.
- This tip needs to be reiterated: It is important to wear safety gear when using a hoverboard. We recommend the same safety gear that you would wear when riding a skateboard -- a skateboard helmet, and knee and elbow pads and wrist guards for protection from falls.
Kaye, Elliot. "Statement from the U.S. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye on the Safety of Hoverboards." 16 Dec. 2015. Web. 6 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cpsc.gov/en/About-CPSC/Chairman/Kaye-Biography/Chairman-Kayes-Statements/Statements/Statement-from-the-US-CPSC-Chairman-Elliot-F-Kaye-on-the-safety-of-hoverboards/>.
If you are injured by the use of a hoverboard or similar device, contact the Law Offices of William L. Goldman, P.C. immediately. We have skilled attorneys who handle serious injury claims.