Lewiston Lawyers Applaud City Ban of Hoverboards
In response to national events, Lewiston’s City Council has banned the use of hoverboards inside city buildings. The Council also included other personal wheeled devices in the ban, such as skateboards, inline skates and wheeled shoes. The ban permits city employees to stop people riding the devices inside city buildings, including City Hall and the Library. The ban should reduce or eliminate the City’s risk of potential liability for injuries the devices might cause while being ridden on or in city property.
In the 24 hours that followed the December 25th present-opening festivities, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports of more than 70 injuries treated by emergency rooms around the country related to falls from hoverboards. Spontaneous bursting into flames is another threat hoverboards may pose.
Maine law protects consumers from products that are defective or unreasonably dangerous. 14 M.R.S.A. §221. Some products are declared “defective” or “unreasonably dangerous” when their inherent design and production pose threats of injury even when used by the consumer in the original, unaltered form.
Examples of products declared “unreasonably dangerous” that have been banned from public sale include children’s pajamas treated with flammable substances and toys painted with lead-laden paint.
Manufacturers of such products are sometimes held strictly liable for the damages their products cause. To be “strictly liable” means that they are deemed responsible for the damage even if there is no finding of fault in their activities. The liability is assigned by the inherently dangerous nature of the product they designed and sold, and which then caused injuries when used exactly as it was intended to be used.
Injuries from Wheeled Devices Can be Life Changing
In the case of the hoverboards, some jurisdictions are viewing them as potentially “unreasonably dangerous,” both in their design and in their use.
Having the device burst into flames while underfoot poses threats of burns to both the user and to people nearby. To date, the cause of this phenomenon is not officially established, but it is possible that the battery aspect of the device is the culprit. Either the manufacturer installed faulty batteries that were prone to spontaneously igniting, or the battery chamber was insufficiently designed to contain the heat generated. Either may be determined to be the cause of this product failure.
The hoverboard, by its design, is an unstable device. Using it as it is intended to be used can cause people to fall, and the injuries resulting from those falls may pose an even bigger threat than the combustion issue. In the first reported cases in December 2015, broken arms, elbows, and ribs were often related to falling off the hoverboard.
Perhaps more concerning, however, are the head injuries. The broken bones, bruises, and injured egos suffered in the falls will likely heal quickly in most otherwise healthy people. Head and brain injuries may not be so easy to get over. Those concussive injuries can have the capacity to permanently impact an individual’s ability to think and function. The current public outcry against football-related head injuries in young people is based on a similar concern – using the head to intentionally hit another player can result in brain injury. Even with helmets, brain injuries from both hoverboard falls and violent football hits may cause concussions that leave life-long brain impairments.
Personal Injuries Caused by Hoverboards
People injured by hoverboard incidents may be entitled to compensation for those injuries, whether they fell off their own device, whether it burst into flames beneath their feet, or whether they were in the wrong place when another person’s hoverboard imploded. Lewiston leaders have been proactive in keeping these devices off public property to protect members of the public. If you or a loved one has been injured, please contact the attorneys at Fales & Fales so we can review your case with you and help you fight for compensation.
Image via Mashable