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Even Personal Mobility Devices Can Be Dangerous

Florida has some of the mildest weather in the entire country. So it’s no surprise—especially during the winter months—that many seniors find themselves in the state. It’s not unusual for anyone living in Venice, Englewood, or Punta Gorda to see elderly Americans or seniors from other countries enjoying the local weather.

However, while seniors on personal mobility devices, like wheelchairs and medical scooters, are a common sight, what’s no common is to think of these PMDs as a threat. However, in some cases, they can be traps waiting to spring.

Enriching Lives

Personal Mobility Devices or PMDs are tools to help seniors retain their independence and continue to live more prosperous, more active lives. PMDs may come in the form of traditional wheelchairs for those that are now disabled. However, they can also come in special medical scooters for those capable of walking, but advised against walking long distances or long periods.

Because PMDs are designed to be convenient and efficient, they don’t use liquid fuels such as gasoline. Instead, these devices are electrically powered. They derive their energy from batteries in the unit that are recharged often by just plugging the vehicles in.

The Incident

While it doesn’t seem like PMDs pose much of a threat beyond bumping into people or accidentally running over feet, they can still bring great harm. One tragic and surprising example of this is what happened in the country of Singapore earlier this month.

On June 3rd, a 20-year-old man who had been advised to use a PMD took an elevator back to his home in an apartment complex when his PMD caught fire. He was trapped in the elevator as his vehicle burned, and it was only once the elevator reached the floor he’d designated that doors opened. Others in the complex saw him on fire. He was rescued and brought to a hospital but subsequently died of his injuries.

It was later determined that the man caught fire due to an accident of electrical origin from his PMD. Unfortunately, a catastrophic short circuit occurred. Both trapped in the elevator and unable to leave his PMD, the man continued to burn until help arrived.

Faulty Products

Under ordinary circumstances, of course, this was not intended to happen. Products, when used as intended, should never pose a threat to users. The fact that this PMD suffered an electrical fire resulting in death means one of three possibilities:

The PMD was damaged somehow through either daily use or deliberate modifications that result in the electrical fire.

The PMD had a defect that snuck through the manufacturing process, resulting in an accident even though no misuse or modification occurred.

The PMD had a defect “built-in” right from the early design phase, and circumstances occurred that triggered that deadly flaw.

If the second or third reasons are what caused the fire and death of the PMD user, then this is a clear circumstance of a defective product leading to injury and then death. So while it’s not a criminal act to manufacture a defective product and sell it to customers, it is still against the law. And that means that legally, there are ways to make those accountable answer for what’s happened.

Personal Injury

Suppose someone is hurt or dies by using a defective product. In that case, that may be either a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. If you or someone you know has used a product as intended, but a defect results in harm through everyday use, seek legal advice. Talk to a personal injury lawyer about what you should be doing next.

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