2015 was the year in which popular 80’s film “Back to the Future” anticipated we’d all be flying around on “hovercraft” boards. Instead, the closest thing we got were “hoverboards,” which do not fly or even hover. They are perhaps better described as self-balancing, motorized scooters.
Still, these toys were immensely popular this holiday season, the first they’ve been available. But this has not been without trouble. Amid reports of the devices catching fire, Amazon UK halted sales, as did Target, overstock.com and some other retailers. Airlines banned the boards on flights.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched an investigation into the safety of these products, but as of yet, there has been no recall. However, perhaps the bigger problem with the boards, at least from the perspective of South Florida medical doctors, is falls.
According to The Sun-Sentinel, there were 40 hospital emergency room visits in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties between Dec. 25 and Dec. 31 attributed to hoverboard injuries.
Our Miami injury attorneys understand most of these involved:
- Broken wrists
- Fractured wrists
Among those: A 14-year-old boy who unwrapped the board with palpable excitement on Christmas morning. He immediately tested out the device on his family’s tiled living room floor. In less than two minutes, he had fallen, using his wrist to catch himself. He spent the rest of Christmas day in the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a broken wrist. Now, says the boy’s mother, “He doesn’t even want to see it anymore.”
Children aren’t the only ones getting hurt, either. Mike Tyson, former pro-boxer, posted a video of himself testing out his daughter’s brand new pink hoverboard – just before falling straight onto his back.
And then there was the tweet from U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, with an attached photo of his arm in a sling and a message that read, “Confirmed- #hoverboard is for kids.”
But one child after another has been suffering injuries as a result of falls. Local doctors told news reporters one of the biggest problems is the fact riders aren’t wearing proper safety equipment. They need to treat these devices as they would a bike or roller skates, by protecting themselves with a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards.
In some cases, the injuries have been serious. Just recently, the Sentinel reported a Hialeah boy was flown by helicopter to a children’s hospital in Hollywood to undergo an emergency surgery after a fall left him with an open fracture, where a bone protruding from his skin.
As far as the fire hazard goes, the CPSC investigation into the issue is ongoing. Just last month, an 11-year-old girl in Boca Raton narrowly avoided injury when she quickly hopped off the device when she heard it making a popping noise. Seconds later, it was on fire.
There are dozens of similar reports across the country. Although the CPSC doesn’t know for sure, it seems part of the problem is the cheap lithium batteries that are being used by Chinese manufacturers.
The devices remain available for sale, even as the first of what will likely be many injury lawsuits are filed.
If you have been a victim of a defective product, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
It’s just the beginning for hoverboard lawsuits, Dec. 30, 2015, By Heather Kelly, CNN Money
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Baseball Fan Injuries Demand Greater Protection for the Stands, Dec. 22, 2015, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog