Weeks ahead of Christmas, Elliot F. Kaye, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, issued a statement indicating mounting concerns about injuries relating to the season’s hottest new toy: The hoverboard.
The device (which does not hover) is perhaps better described as a chargeable, self-balancing motorized scooter. The problems with the issue are reportedly two-fold:
- They catch fire.
- They pose significant fall hazards.
The fire issue is the one that has garnered the most attention, though the CPSC points out the fall hazards as just as much if not more serious, resulting in hundreds of cases of serious injuries, including:
- Contusions/ abrasions
- Internal organ injuries
In South Florida, the Sun-Sentinel looked into instances of local injuries and discovered that as of December 30th, there were 40 reports of emergency room visits due to hoverboard injuries in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Among those were broken wrists, fractured wrists and concussions.
Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers understand these were not just kids. In fact, among those hurt were U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, who posted a picture of himself on social media with his arm in a sling, indicating the injury was due to falling off a hoverboard.
Mike Tyson, the former pro-boxer, posted a clip of himself falling straight onto his back off his daughter’s pink hoverboard.
There was at least one reported local case of a hoverboard catching fire. That happened in Boca Raton, where a mother reported to officials her 11-year-old daughter was riding the device when it began to make a “popping sound.” She jumped off and the board caught fire.
The devices have not been recalled, but these concerns are mounting. Local physicians say problems are generally associated with not having the right safety equipment (i.e., helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, elbow pads), and lack of experience (which makes sense because the devices are so new).
Although most of the injuries reported locally have generally been pretty mild, there have been a handful of cases in which serious injuries were reported. Among those was a 10-year-old from Hialeah who had to be flown by helicopter to a Hollywood hospital after a hoverboard fall in which he suffered an open fracture, which is when the bone is protruding from the skin.
One pediatric orthopedic surgeon quoted by the newspaper said that while these look like fun toys, it should be treated with the potential danger of learning to ride a bicycle or roller skates – with the expectation that you will fall while you’re getting the hang of it.
Meanwhile, the CPSC has expressed concern that there are no safety standards in place for the devices. Kaye urged retailers to be cautious when selling products that lack these standards by mandating additional proof of safe design, manufacturing and quality control from manufacturers (most of whom are in China). Failure to do this could open retailers – as part of the distribution chain – to a product liability lawsuit.
As far as consumers are concerned, the agency for now has urged the public not to charge the boards overnight or without supervision, to use appropriate safety gear and to avoid riding it near traffic.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Hoverboard injuries spike in South Florida, Dec. 30, 2015, By Brittany Shammas, Sun-Sentinel
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Holiday Home Fires Are Rising Concern for Florida Fire Officials, Dec. 24, 2015, Broward Injury Attorney Blog