• By: Graham Sutliff
  • Published: January 2016

By Graham Sutliff

25 years ago, it was unfathomable that Iron Mike Tyson would ever be knocked down by an opponent. But Buster Douglas proved all the experts wrong.

And now, a quarter of a century later, Santa has reminded us all that Iron Mike Tyson is not invincible. He can be knocked out…by a hoverboard:

How can a gift that makes a 10-year-old’s eyes light up like a slot machine take out the likes of Iron Mike? The simple answer is they are dangerous. Before any parent allows their kid to jump on a hoverboard or before any loving spouse lets their better half take a ride, there are some very important things to consider.


The most well-known defect is dramatic and dangerous: fire. Yes, that’s right; there are defective hoverboards bursting into flames and injuring people and property all over the country. Those affected have suffered both burns as well as smoke inhalation damage. While still early, some safety experts believe the flammability of lithium batteries is the cause of most problems with the product.

The potential for a fire is such a serious risk that all major airlines have banned them from being taken on airplanes. If Delta, American, and United all question the safety of transporting the product, shouldn’t you seriously question whether you are willing to sleep under the same roof with one?


#HoverboardFails is a trending topic on Twitter. The words after the hash tag are telling. The modern-day hoverboard is a battery-operated board on wheels. The transportation device proves incredibly unwieldy and difficult to use, leading many into unsuspecting trips, stumbles, and falls. Depending on the speed at the time and the location of the fall, these accidents can lead to emergency room visits and serious harm.

A simple check on Instagram or Youtube shows that most of the “celebrities” taking the device for a spin are not wearing helmets. This is most likely due to the celebrity’s desire to appear tough and cool. But prevention of a head injury far outweighs the benefits of looking cool. Under no circumstance should one ride a hoverboard without a helmet. The risks for a serious and traumatic injury are too great.

Who can we Blame?

Unfortunately the statute of limitations has run on any potential lawsuits against Marty McFly for his encouragement of hoverboard use over 20 years ago. But hoverboard manufacturers and designers could be on the hook for some damages or injuries. The most likely avenue for potential redress would be via a products liability lawsuit.

What to Do?

Before any modifications are made to hoverboards, the safest thing to do is to steer clear of them. This instruction was recently passed down by Carolina Panther head coach Ron Rivera, whose team is on its way to Super Bowl 50.

Consider the audience: grown men, many of whom can bench press over 250 pounds, who for at least 16 weeks out of the year suffer punishing blows to their body by 300 pound plus men. If these men are told by their coach that they need to stay away from hoverboards, don’t you think the same advice should hold true for your 10 year old?

If, by chance, Cam Newton does not listen to his coach’s advice and gets knocked out of the Super Bowl by a hoverboard as opposed to an Denver defender, he should call a products liability lawyer as he would make a hell of a named plaintiff for a class action lawsuit. Personally, I would rather see Cam “Dabbin” in the endzone than headlining a class action lawsuit.

About the Author

Graham Sutliff is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Among other awards and certifications, he is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Super Lawyer for the past decade. In 2019 alone, Graham recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients who were injured by others. To learn more about Graham, click here.

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