The family of a Texas man filed a wrongful death suit in May 2020 because of defects in his Onewheel electric skateboard that suddenly stopped short while he was riding it, resulting ultimately in his death.
The man was brought to the hospital for numerous injuries after he was propelled face-first onto the pavement while riding the scooter. The brain trauma injuries the man sustained from the fall proved fatal; he was pronounced dead at the hospital during surgery.
The man, who is survived by a wife and son, experienced a sudden stop while using the skateboard. This sudden stop feature, related to the “pushback” of the unit’s safety system, is built into the scooter’s mechanics. This built-in safety feature is believed to be a defective feature for these types of scooters and is thought to be the reason that the scooter made a hard stop. Additionally, given that the scooter can reach such high speeds, the immediate stop may not be able to protect users adequately and is a topic for disagreement on whether it even works as a safety feature for these electric scooters.
The suit mentioned above was filed in May 2020 by the man’s widow and comes a year after the injuries that proved fatal for the Texas man.
Electric Onewheel Scooters
The Onewheel electric skateboard is made by Future Motion Inc., which is based in Silicon Valley. The technology company has manufactured these one-wheel skateboards since 2013, and they have proved a great success with consumers. The electric skateboard is battery-powered and self-balancing, and users must steer by shifting their weight on the board. This fairly-new technology mimics Segway scooters since the direction a user goes on the scooter is dependent on how he or she shifts their weight when on the scooter. The ability to balance while on the scooter is crucial for operating it properly and avoiding harm to oneself or others.
The scooter’s advertisements claim that it can go up to 20 mph, however users have reported that, with the right conditions, the board can go even faster. Faster speeds on the electric board can increase the risk of injuries to users and the scooter is not intended to go faster than 20 mph.
Users report that Future Motion has since produced numerous videos focused on educating riders on how to stay safe, including ones such as: “How to Ride,” “Finding a Good Stance,” “How to Ride Safely,” “Pushback,” and “How to Power On.” This series of videos show customers how to ride the one-wheeled scooter properly to avoid injury, and also give tips and suggest tricks that users can try.
Despite reports of injuries and users reporting that the Onewheel electric scooters are difficult to use, customers of the scooters are generally satisfied with the scooters and their ability to move at fast speeds.
Wrongful Death Suit Filed
The lawsuit filed on behalf of the widow seeks compensation for pain and suffering, lost financial support, emotional injuries, medical expenses, and punitive damages. The attorney for the family is arguing that the company which produced the electric skateboard, Future Motion, failed to uphold its duty to design, manufacture, and market a safe scooter free from defects and other mechanical issues that put customers at risk. Additionally, the suit alleges that Future Motion failed to warn customers about the serious injuries (including death) that could occur when using their electric scooters.
The suit also claims that the “automatic shut-off” feature that allows the board to charge itself while in use, does so at the risk of the user. This is one of the reasons the lawsuit is being filed.
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Manufacturers of electric scooters have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe, and that they don’t put users in harm’s way. If you or someone you know has been the victim of an electric scooter injury, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries. This is where expert product liability attorneys step in. As they evaluate your situation, gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and establish the best courses of action, your lawyers will also advise you on your best options: settlement negotiations or going to court.
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