A tech marvel of the future, Hoverboards bring many back to personal injury lawsuits
Hoverboards were one of the hottest gifts this holiday season. Unfortunately many hoverboards have been spontaneously exploding or bursting into flames while in use. Riders have sustained injuries requiring hospitalization after falling from these defective boards. At least two lawsuits have been filed already against hoverboard manufacturers and retailers.
A plaintiff in Alabama filed a personal injury lawsuit against a retailer sounding in negligence and products liability for a hoverboard that started a house fire. A New York plaintiff filed suit when his hoverboard caught fire while charging. His lawsuit is against both the manufacturer of the Hoverboard, a company called Swagway, as well as the retailer, well known Modell’s sporting goods.
The Consumer Protection Safety Commission is investigating more than 20 hoverboard injury claims. Unlike other product liability cases, the fires are common to all hoverboards not limited to one specific manufacturer. Hopefully the investigations will lead to the precise cause of the fires which will enable manufacturers to rectify the issues. One identified potential cause is the use of low priced lithium ion batteries.
Hoverboards will enter into the personal injury arena via another route as well. With increased use of this new technology, it is inevitable that hoverboard riders will get into accidents with motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. This will lead to new precedents and case law. Currently hoverboards are considered vehicles in the sense that they are motorized scooters. As such, hoverboard operators should be treated as vehicle operators akin to bicyclists as opposed to pedestrians.
However, one can see certain protections favoring hoverboard users. For example, in New York, a motorist must yield to a pedestrian walking between two white lines in a marked crosswalk. Would the law be different if the individual struck by a car is riding a hoverboard in the middle of said crosswalk as opposed to walking ? These will be some of the issues courts will need to address.