Hoverboards have been one of the highest-selling items since this past holiday season. Everybody wants one and they are everywhere – in parks, on the beaches, in shopping malls, and on basically every major street in Southern California. They are trendy and people like to show off their skills riding one by making videos for Youtube and Snapchat.
However, amidst this trend there have been numerous stories of hoverboards that have been randomly bursting into flames. There have also been cases where riders have lost control resulting in major injuries to themselves and others, some even ending up in the ER. In fact, most injuries caused by hoverboards are due to falls and collisions. Even so, the more hazardous stories involve hoverboards randomly bursting into flames.
Last month in Brooklyn, a brand new hoverboard that was given to a 10-year old as a Christmas present burst into flames inside an apartment building. The owner of the hoverboard plugged it into an outlet to charge at around 3:00pm inside his parents’ sixth-floor apartment in the Kingsborough Houses and watched in horror as it burned before his very eyes about two hours later.
“Hoverboards” are actually motorized self-balancing scooters. Currently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating 22 reports of hoverboard fires. The agency is also independently testing the products in its lab, but has not yet issued warnings for any specific brands or models, though it did issue a broad warning for consumers. Airlines have banned the products because of the fire hazard.
Early reports indicate the fires are an issue across brands. Some happen while charging, others during use. All seem to be related to cheap lithium ion batteries. Complicating things, most hoverboards are made in China by a hodgepodge of manufacturers. Owners could sue manufacturers directly, or even the retailers depending on state law. Not all states hold retailers liable for defective products they sell.
What can hoverboard owners realistically expect to get from these companies? A lot depends on the extent of the damage and injuries. At the very least, they should be able to get a refund or replacement. If they’ve been hurt, then the calculations can include things like lost wages and medical bills.
As reports of exploding hoverboards continue to mount, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is continuing to investigate. In an update posted earlier this month, the Commission said it continues to look into “a number of companies,” but meanwhile dropped a bit of news for consumers: Amazon will refund hoverboards.
“For consumers who purchased a hoverboard from Amazon, they can return the product right now for a full refund,” Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye writes in the statement. “I want to commend Amazon for voluntarily stepping up, providing a free remedy and putting customer safety first.”
Kaye points consumers to Amazon’s contact page for more information on the refund, but no particular brands of hoverboard are specified in the statement, nor were any other possible restrictions on refund eligibility.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a hoverboard exploding or busting into flames—or even if the rider causes an accident that causes injuries— it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney that can handle a unique and new phenomenon such as this. Our attorneys at Guldjian can assist you with legal counsel and connect you with a medical provider for your injuries. We accept bus accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there will be no cost to you, unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Call us today for a free consultation.