Hoverboard injuries: Who is liable?

Hoverboards are basically high-tech skateboards -- and they're becoming immensely popular among American teenagers.

Unfortunately, all that popularity has led to a lot of accidents. It's estimated that about 27,000 children have ended up in the nation's emergency rooms in just a two-year span since the boards were introduced to the market.

If your child is seriously injured in a hoverboard accident, is anyone liable?

The answer depends a lot on the circumstances surrounding the accident, frankly. Here are some things to consider:

Did your child's protective gear function as expected?

Just like when using a skateboard, kids using hoverboards need to wear kneepads, elbow pads and properly-fitted helmets to be safe. Fractures represent 40 percent of injuries suffered due to hoverboard accidents. When looking at those who had to be admitted to the hospital, head injuries were the cause 35 percent of the time.

Poorly-designed helmets or other protective gear can be just as dangerous as wearing no protective gear at all. In fact, it could be worse -- kids may have a false sense of security if they're wearing protective gear when they ride that leads them to take unnecessary risks.

If poorly-designed protective gear failed to protect your children from injuries they way that they should, you may be able to hold the designer or manufacturer liable. Signs that you should look further into this issue include things like a helmet that broke or gear that slipped easily out of place.

Did the hoverboard malfunction in some way?

Hoverboard malfunctions are another cause of frequent injuries. The popularity of hoverboards has led to an influx of cheap imitations from less-than-reputable manufacturers overseas.

Unfortunately, not all of those hoverboards operate the way that they should. They may overheat, abruptly stop or operate in an uneven, jerky manner.

While it may be difficult to hold an overseas manufacturer responsible, product liability laws hold everyone in the chain of distribution responsible for injuries suffered as a result of defective goods. That means it may be possible to hold a retailer liable for your child's injuries.

Injuries due to hoverboard accidents can be serious. If your child is hurt, explore all your available legal options before you decide how to proceed.

Source: WebMD, "Hoverboard Injuries Speeding U.S. Kids to the ER," Dennis Thompson, accessed March 28, 2018

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