Many American people are now the proud owners of hoverboards, which have become one of the 'must-have' gadgets across the United States. Nonetheless, while manufacturers and retailers may claim that these devices are easy to ride, the reality is that inexperienced riders can easily suffer injuries. As such, if you or someone you love suffers an injury while riding a hoverboard, you may want to know if you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Learn more here.
The risks to hoverboard riders
The relatively simple design of a hoverboard allows the rider to control the speed of the device by applying pressure to the platform surface. The design principle is similar to that of a Segway, except the hoverboard functions on a hands-free basis. The top speed of these devices can range from around 6 miles per hour, up to 22 miles per hour for more expensive models.
Even when traveling at relatively low speeds, hoverboard riders face several hazards. It takes a little time to learn how to master these devices, so accidents are common. The design of a hoverboard intrinsically increases the risk of head injuries because riders achieve top speeds by leaning forward. As such, if they come off the device, it's often the head that takes the brunt of any impact. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has 39 identifiable reports of emergency room visits that hoverboard accidents caused.
The Commission is also investigating 22 reports that the devices accidentally started fires. In some cases, severe malfunctions have resulted in hoverboards that literally burst into flames. Some fires appear to start when owners charge their devices, while other fires occur during use. In all cases, the indications are that cheap batteries are the cause of the issue.
Who is liable?
In the United States, manufacturers must make sure that the products they make are safe to use. These companies must also warn users of any potential hazards that can arise while using their products. Retailers have the same responsibilities towards the products that they sell.
Many hoverboard manufacturers exist outside the United States, and many companies making these devices are Chinese. What's more, the hoverboard can include parts from multiple manufacturers. Nonetheless, this should not interfere with your legal rights, as these manufacturers have assets and distributors in the United States that mean they cannot avoid their legal responsibilities.
Product liability lawsuit fundamentals
To receive compensation for an injury that a hoverboard causes, you must normally file a product liability lawsuit. To win a product liability lawsuit, you must prove the following:
- The product caused your injury or other damage to your property.
- The product was in some way defective or lacked appropriate instructions.
- The product's defect was the cause of your injury.
- You suffered the injury while using the device in the intended way.
As hoverboards are relatively new to the market, some of these facts are harder to prove than others.
Proving hoverboard liability
With the right medical evidence, it's generally easy to prove that you suffered an injury while using a hoverboard, but other elements of a lawsuit may prove more problematic.
Product defects can fall into different categories. Design defects can occur if the hoverboard has a flaw that makes it dangerous to use in some way. For example, CPSC tests show that the devices are sensitive to minor bumps and changes in the road surface. As such, you could argue that the manufacturer should design the device to cope with these bumps.
Other defects occur during the manufacturing process, where the finished product departs from the intended design. For example, the gyroscope that controls the hoverboard's stability may not work properly.
Warning defects occur when consumers don't have the information they need to use the product safely. For example, if the manufacturer or retailer doesn't tell riders to wear safety equipment when using the device, you could argue that the hoverboard carries a warning defect.
In all cases, you will probably need expert testimony to help prove many of these facts. As the devices are relatively new to the market, manufacturers will almost certainly defend these claims vigorously, so it's important to get help from an experienced personal injury attorney.
Hoverboards are great fun for kids and adults alike, but injuries from these devices can occur. Talk to trained personal injury attorneys for more information and advice.