Hoverboard Dangers: What You Should Know

Posted on: 20 January 2016

Hoverboards were one of the hottest gifts this past holiday season–literally. Several have burst into flames. In addition, they pose a serious risk for riders, who can easily take a spill while playing on the boards. If you or your kids own a hoverboard, how concerned should you be about the risk of a personal injury? This is what you should know.

What exactly are hoverboards and why are they so dangerous?

The term "hoverboard" isn't brand-specific and is a little bit of a misnomer. It refers to any electric two-wheeled, self-balancing scooter, with or without a handle. The boards are mostly made overseas, and can be found online, in sports stores, and at mall kiosks at a variety of price points. You can find a plethora of videos online of celebrities like Justin Bieber and Chris Brown doing tricks on them, which has no doubt enhanced their popularity.

You can also find a plethora of videos online of people falling off them. By the Monday following this past Christmas, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had 70 reports of emergency room visits due to hoverboard accidents, mostly falls and collisions. 

There are also at least 22 reports of hoverboards catching fire. The problem is that hoverboards contain a number of microprocessors and two or more independent motors that are powered by lithium ion batteries. It's believed that these batteries are overheating during charging and use. Due to the risk of fire, some airlines no longer even allow them on planes and a popular online retailer has pulled certain models from its site. They've been outright banned in New York City.

What can you do and who can be held responsible if you are injured?

If your hoverboard catches on fire due to a faulty battery, you can likely hold the manufacturer responsible for any injuries or damages. Products should be safe to charge and use without risk of a fire due to faulty batteries. In the case of falls or other injuries associated with trying to ride the hoverboard, an attorney will likely ask certain questions:

  • Did your specific hoverboard's instructions clearly outline the potential dangers?
  • Were safety instructions included with the hoverboard you purchased?
  • Did the hoverboard have a mechanical failure that caused it to move at an uneven speed or freeze up unexpectedly, causing the fall or injury?
  • Did any part of the hoverboard break unexpectedly while in use?

If the accident was due to inexperienced operation or a lack of skill, a lawsuit is likely to be unsuccessful because users assume a certain amount of risk when they engage in a risky recreational activity (much like those who take up skateboarding or skiing). However, if the product was defective or there were inadequate warnings about the dangers, the manufacturer may be liable. 

How can you sue if the manufacturer of your hoverboard is in a foreign country?

Don't assume that you'll be unable to recover for your damages if the manufacturer is in a foreign country. Many overseas companies have U.S. holdings and assets that can be used to pay a successful lawsuit. In addition, you may be able to hold others responsible as well, such as the wholesaler who imported the hoverboard, the distributor who marketed the hoverboard to the retail store you purchased it at, and the actual retailer. Many states impose a liability on everyone in the supply chain of a defective item.

If you suffer an injury or a fire due to a hoverboard, contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case.