Hoverboards Might Be Safe This Year, But Only If You Buy The Right One

Hoverboards, the most common name for two wheeled self-balancing scooters, made a big splash during the 2013 holiday season. A couple of years later, they were one of the hottest holiday gifts, but for all the wrong reasons. Cheaply made hoverboards often contained subpar batteries or badly designed chargers which caused several dangerous fires.

By 2016, hoverboards were becoming so associated with fire risks that recalls became common, multiple shipping ports in the UK blocked their import, and even Amazon.com, which will sell most anything, officially banned the sell of hoverboards for a time. The fires, recalls, and bans continued into the 2017 holiday season, but then things started to get better.

These days, hoverboards are again sold in stores and online. So what changed? According to one scooter and hoverboard manufacturer, hoverboards only started be accepted again once they started meeting Underwriters Laboratories UL 2272 standard. This series of tests sets safety standards for things like a hoverboard's battery, charging system, internal wiring, and general durability.

It still took some time for hoverboard manufactures to get onboard. The UL 2272 standard was established in 2016 but fires and recalls were still surprisingly common even into late 2017, but after that, the recalls stopped. There were no reported hoverboard recalls in 2018 and so far have been none in 2019.

Does this mean that hoverboards are now safe purchases for the 2019 Christmas season from a fire hazard point of view? Yes. Or, at least, they are a much safer bet than they were just a few years ago. Still, even though compliance with the UL 2272 tests seem to be much more widespread, you do need to do you homework. For instance, don't just rely on a badge on the packaging, be sure and do a check to make sure a hoverboard you are thinking of buying is actually certified.


Mazada Issues Second Recall of Takata Airbags

For years now, car manufactures have been recalling their vehicles to replace faulty airbags made by the Takata Corporation. Not only have millions of cars been recalled, there have been some twenty deaths and many more injuries related to bad Takata airbag inflators that can throw metal shards at the driver or passenger they were supposed to protect.

Recently, Mazda issued a second recall of some of their cars to again fix airbag issues stemming from Takata's bad design. As it turns out, in the early days of recalls, Takata simply replace known bad airbag units with ones of the same design. Those replacements also could go bad and result in the same types of injuries. This second recall from Mazda replaces the bad design with a new design that will hopefully eliminate the danger once and for all.

The important thing for drivers here is to keep paying attention to recall notices, even if they are for a part that was previously recalled. Sometimes a recall can be done improperly or the new part can have similar or even different and worse issues than the part being recalled. Even if you do not own a Mazda it is possible that similar second recalls could happen with other manufacturers as well.


E-cigarettes Not Upholding Safety Promises

E-cigarettes seemed to sweep in a few years ago with the promise of a safe, smokeless alternative to real cigarettes. You didn't inhale the smoke, so all those cancer causing toxins never made it to your lungs. Even better, switching flavors just meant switching which liquid you used instead of having to buy a whole new pack of smokes. Vaping was to become the new, safe way to maintain a now harmless nicotine addiction.

Except things haven't turned out so rosy.

First, there is the lesser issue of e-cigarette hardware itself. Hooking up a high-capacity battery to to a heating element that is used to warm potentially flammable liquids has, unsurprisingly, caused accidents. The battery inside an e-cig is more or less the same as the ones that power our smartphones. Modern batteries store a lot of energy in a small space, and if anything goes wrong that energy gets released as an uncontrolled jet of flames and burning plastics instead of a nice steady flow of electrons. Just ask Samsung, who had to recall every single one of their Galaxy Note 7 phones a few years back. Or talk to the makers of battery-powered self-balancing "hoverboards" whose quality control was so bad across the board that they were outright banned in the UK because their batteries were such a fire risk.

Two notable reports of e-cig fires include a young man who was caught on store video as his pocket burst into flames, and a lawyer who had to rush out of a courtroom when one of the spare batteries he had in his pocket began smoldering.

E-cigs aren't exploding left, right, and center, but poorly made or poorly maintained e-cigarettes certainly can become a fire risk.

The second, more notable issue of e-cigarettes is the notion that they separate the act of smoking from the harmful chemicals that come with normal cigarettes seems to be incorrect. Vaping has now been linked to several hundred cases of sicknesses and severe lung injuries spread across the nation. E-cigarettes may not have the outrageous amount of harmful chemicals that a traditional cigarette has, but the smoke inhaled from vaping can apparently still be very dangerous. Some doctors are even going so far to say that the damage done by smoking an e-cigarette reminds them of the effects of actual chemical weapons such as mustard gas!

The issues seems to be one of chemical choice and quality control at vaping companies such as Juul. This year, that company was all but forced to remove several of its vaping flavors from stores across the US. Juul is also now tangled up in a whistleblower lawsuit brought against it by one of its former vice presidents of global finance. Siddharth Breja, the vp in question, is claiming that the vaping company ignored the expiration dates of its own products and cut corners to keep up with demand after it was forced to stop selling some of its products.

Any way you look at it, the promise of a safe, non-toxic, high-tech future of smoking delivered by e-cigarettes seems to be going up in smoke.


Vaping-related Illnesses Spread With Cause Still Unknown

Vaping and E-cigrettes are becoming a serious problem according to the Food and Drug Administration. The government organization has opened a criminal investigation into a wave of more than 530 reported illness that came as a result of vaping. According to Politico, the director of the Centers for Disease Control is "very concerned" about the sharp increase in vaping-related illnesses.

The reports, so far, are making it hard to track down the exact cause since those becoming sick are spread across at least 38 states and not everyone is using the same set of products or vaping liquids in their e-cig.

So far, the FDA thinks that the fault may not lie with the design of the e-cigs or the intended chemical makeup of individual vaping liquids, but might be with a lack of consistency or care somewhere in the supply chain. "There may be a problem with source material or modification that may be occurring at different places," a CDC official said.

Unfortunately, right now the causes are not known and may not be known for weeks or months. The fast growing vaping industry may be subject to additional regulation in the future, but for now, the safest bet is to only buy vaping supplies from a reliable source or hold off vaping all together until a root cause to these illnesses can be found.


Top Product Liability Cases in the U.S.

Top Product Liability Cases in the U.S.

In 2014 a total of 7% of all personal injury cases were product liability lawsuits. It’s important that East Texans are aware that these types of situations are possible and have happened before to innocent victims. We have compiled a list for you of some of the top product liability cases in the United States.

Top Cases In The U.S.

  • Phillip Morris: Tobacco Products A woman who had lung cancer back in 2002 filed a suit against the company claiming they caused her sickness. She won the $28 Billion dollar case because of the companies failure to warn customers on their products. The company also had to pay $850,000 in damages to compensate the victim. However, nine years after the case the company appealed and the amount was reduced to $28 million. The company has since rebranded itself as Altria Group, Inc.
  • General Motors Co.: Automobile Parts We all remember back in 2008 when GM faced liability claims that their Dex-Cool coolant caused leaks and damages in peoples cars. This resulted in individuals who suffered from the damages to receive $400 to $800 dollars from the company. The class action suit was filed for 35 million GM customers for a total of $20 billion.
  • Dow Corning: Silicone Breast Implants Their settlement resulted in $2 billion dollars in a class action suit from customers who claimed their silicone breast implants were rupturing. These injuries were serious and they caused injury, bodily damage, scleroderma, and death. The class action suit was a total of $4.25 billion for the company.
  • Owens Corning: Asbestos Building Materials Asbestos building materials caused mesothelioma cancer and death to 176,000 individuals involved in this case. The case resulted in an agreement for the company to pay $1.2 billion to settle the product liability lawsuits.

The three main defective products to look out for are:

  • Defectively manufactured products
  • Defectively designed products
  • Inadequate warnings or instructions

Situations like these are extreme but it's good to make sure you are aware of the possibilities associated with buying products in the United States. At Martin Walker Law, we have the skills to make sure justice is served in these types of situations. Give us a call today to get the help you deserve(903) 526-1600


What Would A New Takata Airbag Settlement Mean For Car Owners?

For years now, airbag maker Takata has been dealing with the fallout of the faulty airbag inflator modules it designed for Honda and several other automobile manufactures. These defective airbags could sometimes explode during an auto accident sending shrapnel flying at a driver or passenger.
Now, after an investigation by the Department of Justice and a bankruptcy filing, Takata is attempting to set aside a fund for consumers who were injured by their airbags. One new issue that is currently in discussion is how those injured by a Takata airbag will get compensation. Takata is looking to set up a “channeling injunction” that directs future claims to a shared bankruptcy trust for compensation.
This kind of injunction has been before in the asbestos settlements of the 1990s, but setting up a similar structure for a different type of injury case has not been tried since. Currently, a court in Delaware is working on deciding how and if Takata will be allowed to set up such a channeling injunction.
If you or a loved one were hurt by an exploding Takata airbag, you may want to consider contacting an attorney sooner rather than later, because depending on what the Delaware court decides, the rules and procedures for making a claim may soon change drastically.


The Dangers of Defective E-Cigarettes

Over the past few years there has been a trend of smokers replacing their cigarette cartons and lighters for electronic vaporizers and e-cigarettes. Unheard of just a few years ago, “vape shops” have been popping up all across the country to help former smokers transition to this new, supposedly safer method of getting their nicotine fix.
One of the biggest surprises to come out of this e-cigarette trend, though, is just how dangerous these vaporizers can be. When they are operating correctly, e-cigs may very well be better for one’s long term health than smoking a traditional cigarette, but when these e-cigs malfunction, the results can be explosively catastrophic.
Ultimately, the safety hazard from these electronic vaporizers comes from the powerful but all too often low quality batteries they use to heat and vaporize the nicotine solutions inhaled by their users. The batteries inside these e-cigarettes can short circuit far too easily which can cause them to overheat, catch fire, and in some cases even outright explode while in their users’ hands or pockets.
We saw similar issues with some recent smartphones and with the several of the self-balancing “hoverboards” that became popular gift items over the past two holiday seasons.
Already, the internet is littered with news stories and videos of e-cigs catching fire or detonating in showers of sparks, and major personal injury cases have begun awarding the victims of these mishaps serious compensation for the injuries they suffered as a result of these incidents.
If you or someone you know has been injured by an electronic vaporizer that malfunctioned, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the expert staff at Martin Walker Law today for a free case evaluation. You can reach our offices by phone at (903) 526-1600 or by email at info@martinwalkerlaw.com.


Dodge Issues Recall for Over A Million Ram Pickups

Earlier this month, Dodge announced that it would be recalling more than a million of its Ram pickup trucks after it discovered problems with the systems that control the trucks' airbags and seatbelts.
It seems that after a hard bump, such as when one of these trucks bottoms out, the computers that manage the safety systems in Ram trucks made between 2013 and 2016 can lock up while processing an unrelated error code. This can cause those critical systems to become unresponsive when they are needed most.
This computer problem can be temporarily fixed by turning an affected truck off and back on again, but that hardly helps in the middle of an accident. So far at least one death has been linked to this computer problem, and Dodge is moving quickly to issue fixes for the trucks in question.
If you or a loved one were injured in a vehicle accident and you think that a vehicle defect may have been to blame, get in touch with us at once.


Followup: New Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder

Last year, we highlighted some of the verdicts being awarded against Johnson & Johnson and their talcum powder products. Combined, two of the biggest awards amounted to a little over $100 million paid to women who developed cancers after using Johnson & Johnson's products. Studies had pointed to dangers of the products as far back as the 1970's but the products remained on sale even to the modern day. Last year we also noted that more than 1,000 other women had filed suit against the company, and now we've seen another one of those lawsuits reach a conclusion.
NBC News reported that on May 4th, 2017, a woman in Virginia was awarded a record-setting verdict of $110.5 million after using Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder products for over 40 years. The drug company stated that it would appeal the decision, but for now the case will stand as one of the largest amounts awarded in a cancer lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has developed or died from ovarian cancer and would like more details on the risks of talcum powder, please contact Martin Walker Law at (903) 526-1600 or by emailing us at info@martinwalkerlaw.com