University in New Jersey Bans Hoverboards as Injuries and Lawsuits Mount
Following a recommendation made by the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, Kean University announced that hoverboards will no longer be allowed on campus. The prohibition of the increasingly popular personal transportation devices comes on the heels of news reports that an unknown number of hoverboards contain defective lithium-ion batteries that are prone to spontaneously combust and explode.
In an emailed statement to the media, a Kean University spokesperson stated, “due to documented fire and safety issues, Kean University has banned hoverboards on campus effective January 4, 2016. Any hoverboards found on campus will be confiscated. The new policy reflects the recommendation of the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety. This recommendation is currently being made to all public universities in New Jersey. Fortunately, there have been no incidents related to hoverboards on campus. This measure was taken as a safety precaution.”
Kean University is not alone in banning the accident-prone personal transportation devices. Most major airlines have also banned hoverboards due to the fire risk posed by their lithium-ion batteries. Several cities, including New York, have also placed restrictions on the use of hoverboards on public sidewalks in an effort to reduce pedestrian accidents.
The fire hazard is believed to be caused by defective lithium-ion batteries that were mass produced by low-cost, overseas suppliers that rushed to produce large numbers of batteries and hoverboards at the lowest cost possible to satisfy high demand during the 2015 Christmas season.
Federal regulators are beginning to investigate hoverboard fires. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently probing 22 hoverboard fires that have occurred in 22 states, including a hoverboard fire in a home in Lacey Township, New Jersey. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advised the public that engineers with the agency are currently testing damaged hoverboards to learn why some models have caught fire while charging and during use by riders.
Problems with hoverboard batteries may, in fact, be widespread. Authorities in the United Kingdom reportedly tested 17,000 hoverboards and found that 88% were unsafe due to “issues with the plug, cabling, charger, batter, or the cut-off switch within the board, which often fails.”
Hoverboard Injuries Send Hundreds to the Emergency Room
Not only are hoverboards prone to catch fire and explode, they have also sent hundreds of riders to emergency rooms across the country. The devices, which can travel at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour, are notoriously difficult to control and have caused riders to suffer from serious injuries, including fractured wrists, back sprains, and broken ankles.
In an article about hoverboard safety concerns, Consumer Reports recounted the story of an eleven-year old boy who was using a friend’s hoverboard when he lost control, striking his head on the pavement. The boy, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, suffered a subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain) above his left eye. He was forced to miss a month of school and he continues to experience headaches, dizzy spells, and sensitivity to noise and light. In addition, he is no longer able to play sports, or even play the trumpet, until his brain has fully healed.
According to Consumer Reports, “in our tests, we found that an unexpected obstruction – even a small stick, pebble, dip, or bum in the sidewalk – can jolt the rider into shifting his or her weight from one side to the other. That shift can make the wheel on one side speed up or slow down, forcing the hoverboard into an unplanned turn. When that happens, it’s very easy to fall: at any speed the rider’s feet can quickly be swept away, with the potential for hitting one’s head.”
It’s not only children who are being hurt by hoverboards. Countless adults have broken bones and suffered other injuries caused by the devices. Former boxer Mike Tyson, for example, recently posted a video on social media showing his failed attempt to navigate his home on a hoverboard.
Given the dangers of hoverboards, it should come as no surprise that those who have suffered physical and financial harm are filing lawsuits against the companies that produce and sell the transportation devices.
To date, at least two personal injury lawsuits have been filed on behalf of hoverboard owners. A married couple in Alabama filed a lawsuit last month alleging that their home has severely damaged when a hoverboard caught fire. At the time of the fire, the family was sleeping. Luckily, a member of a nearby utility crew noticed that the fire and managed to save everyone in the house. Their home was severely damaged by the fire and rendered uninhabitable. Moreover, the family’s automobile was burned in the fire and deemed a total loss.
In another case, a New York hoverboard owner filed a lawsuit against hoverboard maker “Swagway” and Modell’s Sporting Goods, alleged that the hoverboard they purchased was defectively designed and not safe for use by the public. The class action lawsuit seeks to represent all individuals nationwide who purchased a Swagway Smart Balancing Electric Skateboard or similar models made by the company. According to the lawsuit, the first time the hoverboard was recharged, it exploded and burst into flames, destroying the hoverboard and damaging the owner’s house.
Have You or a Loved One Suffered Injuries Caused by a Hoverboard?
If you or your child have been hurt while riding a hoverboard, you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. To schedule a free case evaluation and learn about your legal rights, get in touch with us today.