Hoverboards: No. 1 Christmas Toy or Serious Injury Risk?

October 21st 2015. If Back to the Future II is to be correct in it’s prophecy, we will very shortly be exposed to Jaws 19, wearing two ties and the most anticipated of inventions, the hoverboard. We haven’t managed to fulfill these prophecies as of yet, but what we do have is a new invention that allows us to move around with ease. A new segway style product labelled the hoverboard has gone from obscurity, to being a “must have” in just 1 year.

The rise of the hoverboard

Sincere LAw Hoverboard Trend Research

A small foray into Google Trends will tell you that before March of 2014, the term “hoverboard” was a seldom searched term, with the only real interest being from fans of the Back to the Future movie franchise. However, interest has suddenly spiked and has been on an extreme upward curve ever since. The most recent spike in interest happened in the summer of this year, when celebrities around the world started posting videos of their brand new toys around the house.


Kendall Jenner doing laps

The offspring of the segway, the “self balancing two wheeled board”, originally became a reality in 2013, with the invention of the “Smart S1”, a board designed in China. Within months of the initial launch the online giant, Alibaba, had many listings of almost exact replicas from independent companies who were making copycat varieties of the S1.

Overseas in the US, a company labelled PhunkeeTree decided to make their own version and market it to the states, creating the PhunkeeDuck, which gained popularity by appearing on the much watched late night TV chat show “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. The board gained widespread popularity and it was not long before we began to see British Youtubers and celebrities place their own videos using them online (with varying degrees of success). In the UK the popular name for the boards are “Swegway” and “Hoverboard” and the product us quickly becoming popular, with sales rising month on month.


Joe Weller tries the Swegway

Legal Implications

In the UK, the popularity of the boards has led the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider the legal status surrounding them. While they are usually bought as personal treats or gifts, which are normally used around the house, some owners have been using them as transportation out and about, once they have learned how to control their board.

Authorities have taken the stance that due to a law aged at around 180 years old, a ban has been put in place for the use of them outside of private land. Law states that because they contain a motor, they are powered vehicles and therefore usage is not allowed on pavements. In conjunction with this it has also been determined they are not safe enough to use on a road, with their top speed at being less than 5mph on average and the precarious standing balance required to pilot one.

The banning order has created a backlash from the public, as sales of the boards have actually increased rapidly since the announcement was made from the CPS earlier in October. On some websites that sell the boards, traffic increased by “215% within 24 hours” such was the increase in interest.

The police are advising people to think of the safety implications of using hoverboards in public, while users are asking what the harm is of taking theirs onto the pavement for a quick spin.

 

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Fun vs. Accountability

Arguments in favour of the hoverboard being usable outside of your house revolve around the common sense use of the alleged ‘vehicle’ out in public. The hoverboard is seen by many as a toy and no different to other methods of transport that are similar, which have also in the past seen spikes in interest, including bikes, skateboards and scooters. Former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Lembit Opik supports the calls to lift the ban (which includes conventional segways) stating “They are immensely environmentally friendly. They help people who have limited mobility. You are high, so are highly visible, and for short journeys in cities, which are clogged up not least because of insane investment in cycle lanes, Segways are in many ways going to be faster than cars.” He infamously participated in a segway protest outside the houses of parliament back in 2010 to challenge the law banning them from the streets.

The BBC asked the public what they thought about them with the feedback being mostly positive from those using the boards. Remarking how useful they can be, one woman commented “I think it exercises your muscles, so I use it to work out. I play with my niece on it. You can dance with it – I’ve taken it to a club. I’ve ridden it in 4in heels”. One pensioner thinking it could be a very useful tool for the elderly, said “I think it would be great for getting around supermarkets”.

In opposition, there are fears that due to their unstable nature, being around on them in public could lead to accidents involving other pedestrians, cyclists, bikers and motorists. There has been plenty of video evidence online of people trying to learn how to use the boards but struggling to properly control them. If a user was not 100% in control around a public road and accidentally veered off or fell from their board, the effect of what could happen could be catastrophic.

An added fear is of the reliability of the product itself. Badly designed versions of Hoverboards have been known to catch fire while charging, triggering a very serious product liability issue. While these types of incidents so far have been limited, the rapid growth of buys has lead to more incidents (such as this one in New York) potentially manifesting.

The battleground is between common sense vs. risk of injury. Many people are calling for the hoverboard ban to be lifted as they carry the same risks as a bike, scooter or skateboard; while on the other hand, others do not want hoverboard owners colliding with them while walking or driving, creating a potential serious injury claim minefield as legality, liability and duties of care will all potentially be disputed in each incident.

The facts ‘for’

• Seen as a toy by users
• Very similar to scooters, bikes and skateboards (all legal)
• Cannot travel fast enough to cause serious incidents
• Common sense usage will keep everyone safe

The facts ‘against’

• Law states it is a vehicle due to motor
• Unsteady driving position could be a source of accidents
• Board is difficult to control properly and prone to veering off course
• Ability to cause bruising/damage pedestrians are hit
• Currently carries no requirement for safety equipment adding to risk level

The hoverboard ban, your say

The ban on hoverboards has caused plenty of discussion online, including a petition to have it overturned by the CPS. Tweets on both sides are still being exchanged; here is a selection of your opinions on the matter:

 

 

 

The 5 most common work accidents and injuries

Workplace injuries are commonplace in the UK. While we often have training, risk assessments and dedicated staff in place to reduce the number of incidents, they do still happen. Being a serious injury specialist, Sincere Law deals with these kinds of injury cases on a daily basis. What however, are the most common accidents found within the workplace? We’ve put together the top 5 most common accident type to help you stay alert and avoid serious injury while at work.

1. Slips, trips & falls

Slips, trips and falls are by a long way the most common cause of serious injury to UK workers. In 2014 the number of combined serious slips, trips and falls reported by employees reached just over 27,500.

What’s interesting about this number reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was that all these reported accidents included only incidents resulting in a more than 7 day absence from work. According to statistics, 57% of major injuries to UK employees were the result of a slip, trip or fall on duty.

This type of injury can seriously damage somebody; from slipping on a wet floor and fracturing bones, to tripping over poorly placed objects, causing a fall and potentially risking severe damage to not only bones but the brain if the fall is particularly bad. Negligence is quite often the reason for these accidents, with incorrect equipment, unsafe environments and poor direction being the main causes.

2. Manual handling accidents

With over 18,500 workers injured by manual handling incidents in 2014 (accounting for nearly a quarter of reported injuries) these accidents make up a large number of serious injuries at work each year. Of those injured, 9 out of 10 of 2014’s manual handling accidents involved a longer than 7 day period away from work.

Handling injuries can be incredibly detrimental to the long term health of an employee, even risking their future. The most common injury caused by handling is strain and damage to the back, spine and neck. Spinal injuries can result in permanent trouble with movement, requiring lengthy spells of physiotherapy and possibly forcing early retirement if the person affected cannot perform manual tasks following injury.

Common causes of spinal injuries due to handling are overburdening of a staff member by asking to move something around their workplace and not providing proper training on how to lift and carry. Heavier loads usually require apparatus or machines to move. Proper equipment/machinery should always be provided to avoid injury.

serious injury while at work - Sincere Law

3. Car collisions

Driving is big business in the UK. Thousands of people drive each day in company cars to and from meetings alongside those using the roads keeping our logistics network running strong, be it in a van or a heavy goods vehicle (HGV).

In 2014, 1,504 employees were involved in collisions that resulted in a stay away from work longer than a week. Road traffic accidents can obviously stem a range of injury problems from whiplash, giving the driver back, neck and head problems, to the most severe lacerations, amputations and even fatalities.

4. Burns

Burns at work can come in the form not only as burns from fires; electrical burns can badly scar a person just as much as direct flames. Other burn types include exposure directly to harmful substances like acids or other corrosive materials. The result can be anything from large sections of skin peeling to permanent disfigurement.

Burns as a result of exposure accounts for just over 1,000 serious injuries per year according to HSE statistics. The riskiest environments involve employees who deal with fire or corrosives on a regular basis, working with open flames or handling chemicals for example. The aftermath of burns can be long lasting and have detrimental effects on the victim’s self esteem in later life if they have been disfigured as a result of their accident.

5. Electrical accidents

Everybody is aware of the danger electricity can cause. According to statistical analysis, there are around 1,000 cases of electric shocks in the workplace each year.

Even the lowest voltages such as a 50v plug can apply enough electricity to block signals between brain and muscles, risking the heart stopping, prevention of breathing or intense spasms. Electrical accidents are commonly caused by a failure to identify a risk of electrocution due to exposed wires, faulty equipment or lack of PPC.

Electrical damage can be extremely severe with serious, long lasting, even life changing effects. These include disfigurement and burns from skin contact, loss of function in limbs and long term damage to nerves/nerve endings as well as fatality if the voltage has caused the heart to stop beating properly or affected body function.

Sincere Law - Accidents at work

Be Aware!

With thousands of injuries at work each year, severe and minor, we all need to be aware of risks of our particular workplace. Our advice would be to be proactive and actively challenge managers should you be given incorrect equipment or dangerous instructions and to move any objects likely to cause falls or clean up spillages. Reducing risk is the number 1 priority in workplace safety and in an ideal world everybody will do their part to help not only themselves but their workmates too.

If you have unfortunately suffered as a result of a workplace injury that wasn’t your fault, make sure you call us today for free advice and a no hassle conversation on 0800 092 2896. Alternatively simply fill in our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Serious Injuries – Life and care following an injury

 

A man from Bognor Regis recently received compensation following a life changing brain injury as the result of a car accident. Included in the payment was the sound knowledge that the care he will need for the rest of his life will be covered. The article resonated with us at Sincere Law. We feel one of our most important jobs when fulfilling a claim is that everybody, including the family of the claimant, feels confident they won’t be financially insecure in the future as a result of care costs.

Dealing with serious injuries including brain injuries, spinal injuries, road accident victims, burn victims, amputees and others, we have a wealth of experience of what aftercare may be required. Changes to lifestyles of victims and their families are often needed depending on the circumstances of their injuries. Some are wheelchair bound, some need changes to the home environment, and some may need carers to assist them throughout the day. What’s important to them is that they need not panic over costs affecting them in later life.

 

Life after injury

As serious injury specialists, we’ve seen many cases where lives are changed significantly and the person affected needs assistance to live a comfortable, full life. At the basic level, aftercare allows you to run a home, live cleanly and feed themselves with no pressure of running into financial problems.

In the more severe injury cases, we have ensured all affected were able to fulfil future development aspirations such as going to college or university, giving access to learning at a local facility, regardless of the injury suffered. Having to radically change your life due to an accident that wasn’t your fault can be extremely stressful and worrying. With Sincere Law, we try to take away all of that and let you or your loved one fulfil those goals no matter what has happened.

Depending on circumstances, extent of injuries and the changes needed to be made to living conditions following injury; victims can often feel under strain; suffering symptoms of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. All those conditions must be treated with extreme care. Ensuring full recovery from mental health problems is a top priority. Previously we have ensured care was provided to deal with the prevention of:

  • Suicide
  • Sectioning
  • Being sent to prison
  • Children going into care
  • Family break ups
  • And others.

The effects of serious injury can be devastating for all concerned; to get back to normality as soon as possible is a must. The above examples are some of the most severe cases. Having your life dramatically changed can have untold effects that can harm a person and their personality. We aim to assist so that none of these situations would ever have to arise, and that you and your family can enjoy a healthy, full life after injury.

 

Expert Opinions

During any claim, it’s important the person involved is well looked at by medical professionals and the extent of damage is reviewed. Immediately following a serious injury, there are medical and court costs. Only looking at the present however could lead to a person and their family struggle to deal with the extended impact of possible care and alternative living arrangements needing to be made for years to come.

We asked Chris Walker, Sincere Law catastrophic and serious injury partner about aftercare in cases relating to Sincere Law, he told us:

“Without properly assessing the future needs of a serious injury claimant, it’s almost a fruitless venture to go ahead with the claim at all. Short term, the benefits of their compensation are good for them, but many people forget the financial and emotional burdens of having to deal with the lasting effects of these injuries in later life.”

 

Aftercare – What to expect?

Anyone who has suffered from a serious injury and wants to make a claim through Sincere Law can expect the same level of commitment towards their future as Josh has. It’s essential that we employ highly qualified experts in all fields of serious injury. That’s exactly what Sincere law can provide and will provide for all claimants. The claims process is much more than a simple compensation ruling and payout, it’s about how somebody with a serious injury will move on and continue to live their life as best they can under often very testing and difficult circumstances.

If you, a family member or anyone else has suffered from serious injury and you would like more information on our medical assessments, aftercare or would like to know if you are able to make a claim, please contact us on 0800 092 2896 or get in touch here.

 

Road Traffic Accidents & Children – Stay Safe This Summer

With the summer holidays arriving (and already here for some) it is getting to a time of year where the School runs are over and it’s time to take your loved ones out for walks, day trips and lots of exiting activities. With so much outdoor fun available, it is important to stop for a moment and ensure you remember to keep yourself and your family safe over the summer.

As serious injury solicitors, we receive high volumes of road traffic accident claims every day. We receive just as many claims from people injured at the roadside as a pedestrian as we do people injured while at the wheel or as a passenger. With many more children out and about as passengers in cars and as pedestrians this summer, make sure both you and your children avoid any unwanted incidents and have a long, hot, happy summer.

Sincere Law

Summer Safety, top tips

  1. 1. Follow the Green Cross Code – to the letter!

The easiest and possibly the best way of avoiding any injuries as a pedestrian, especially when walking with children, is to obey the green cross code. Crossing at zebra or pelican crossings and using the stop, look and listen technique can reduce any risks to an absolute minimum.

 

  1. 2. Keep yourself on the road side

It may seem like common sense, but many road traffic accidents we deal with include cars coming onto the curb. When walking with your child it is in their best interests to make sure they walk away from the road. Children seem to enjoy balancing on the edge of the pavement. It’s important to teach the dangers of this as falling into the road from doing this could end catastrophically!

 

  1. 3. Playing in the street

You won’t always be with your child during the summer. Sometimes they may be just outside enjoying some playtime with friends. If you live on a road with cars coming through, be it a quiet cul-de-sac or a main road, make sure your loved one knows not to play in the road and stick to the pavement. When playing ball games, make sure they know not to chase after a ball that ventures into the road and to retrieve it by using their green cross code.

 

Stay safe, and enjoy

Ensuring the knowledge that the road isn’t a playground is the best way to make sure your loved ones are secure during the holidays. Unfortunately many claims from road traffic accidents include pedestrians and a percentage of those include serious injury claims involving children.

Serious injury cases we’ve dealt with previously involving parents and children during summer include:

  • Spinal injuries
    • Spinal compressions
    • Dislocated vertebrae
    • Spinal penetration
    • Hyperextension & Hyperflexion
  • Brain injuries
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Frontal lobe damage
    • Diffuse axonal
  • Fatalities as a result of reckless driving
    • Head on collisions
    • Rear end collisions
    • Failing to pay attention

Prevention of these types of injuries does work two ways. It requires vigilance from both driver and pedestrian or driver and fellow driver. You may not be able to change the behaviour of another person but by taking your own safeguarding steps you can limit any potential problems while enjoying a packed summer schedule.

While we do provide the very best help for making a claim and ensuring all medical costs at the time and in future will keep you safe and secure, we’re sure you’d much prefer a relaxing, stress free summer enjoying some quality time with your little ones.

Sincere Law Claims

If you or a family member have suffered from a serious injury, be it a road traffic accident or other, make sure you do get in touch with us on 0800 092 2896 or use our contact form here.