This past holiday season, hoverboards became one of the most popular gifts. These highly sought-after two-wheeled vehicles are similar to the larger Segway scooters that have also recently risen in popularity. The main difference between a hoverboard and a Segway scooter, however, is that the hoverboards generally don’t have a handle or other hand-held steering component. And while these products are a lot of fun for some owners, others report that the new invention is seriously dangerous. In fact, many owners have reported that hoverboards are causing serious fall accidents and even catching on fire.
A house in Louisiana burnt down after a hoverboard exploded, another house in New York was damaged by a hoverboard fire, and shoppers at a mall in Washington were forced to evacuate when a board burst into flames. Some of these fires started when the hoverboards were plugged into walls for charging, while others exploded and caught fire while in use. Because of their apparently dangerous nature, airlines have even banned travelers from taking them on planes.
As of December 30, 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission had investigated at least 22 reports of fires caused by these hoverboards. The agency is continuing to test the products in a laboratory. As of now, no warnings on specific models or brands have been issued.
According to a Wired.Com article, the lithium ion batteries – the same kind used in laptops, smartphones, and tablets – are to blame. Unlike the batteries in our more familiar consumer devices, however, hoverboard batteries are prone to dangerous defects. Instead of the high-end batteries used in our phones and computers, many hoverboard companies are using cheaper batteries that aren’t made from high-quality materials. The article says that the expensive, top-tier hoverboards have better-made batteries which probably aren’t causing any issues, but the real problem is coming from the less expensive “knock-off” hoverboard brands. The cheaper materials used to make these ‘low cost li-ion’ batteries that are used in the knock-off brands have impurities which make them more likely to short-circuit. When they short circuit, the batteries generate a lot of internal heat which causes materials inside to boil. Eventually, this ruptures the outside of the battery, leading to a fire.
Defective chargers could also lead to fires, according to the article. Overcharging a battery can cause battery cell failure. While cell failure doesn’t always cause fires, it can dry out the battery and make it cease to hold a charge. While this is obviously less dangerous than an exploding hoverboard, it is still expensive – and frustrating. Consumers across the country injured by these hoverboards have already begun filing lawsuits, and many legal experts expect more to come.
The worst part about these hoverboard fires, however, is that you can’t tell whether you have a defective product until it is too late. Since the trend is so new, it is hard to know which brands are truly top-quality and use the best components. What’s worse is that it can take several charge cycles to find out whether your hoverboard is defective. It is the charging and draining of the batteries that finally acts as a trigger for the mechanical failure of the batteries.
Can Hoverboard Accident Victims Pursue Justice?
Depending on a person’s injuries and damages, a hoverboard accident victim may be able to file a lawsuit against the hoverboard company and/or the retailer in order to pursue monetary compensation. This is known as a products liability lawsuit. Products liability law holds the manufacturers and distributers of unexpectedly defective or dangerous products responsible for injuring an unsuspecting consumer. If successful in their suit, a person who has sustained injuries due to such a harmful product may recover payment to cover the following:
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Medication costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Involved in a Hoverboard Accident? We Are Here to Defend the Injured
If you have sustained injuries due to a harmful product, such as the new hoverboards, contact our South Carolina product liability attorneys as soon as possible. Products liability is a very technical and sometimes confusing area of law. Succeeding in a products liability lawsuit can involve proving unsafe designs, unsafe manufacturing practices, or marketing defects. All of these areas can require experts to hold the manufacturer or distributor responsible. To add to an injured person’s burden, they must prove that:
- The product had an "unreasonably dangerous" defect that injured the user of the product. The defect can come into existence at any point in the design of the product, during its manufacture, or during the handling or shipment of the product;
- The defect in the product caused an injury while the product was being used in a way that it was intended to be used; and
- The product hadn’t been substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold. "Substantially" means tinkering with or changing the product in a way that would affect how the product performs.
Here at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, we know how to navigate the technical (and legal) jungle that products liability cases can be. We can examine your case and may be able to create a defense to help you establish liability and pursue financial compensation. At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, our team believes no person deserves to suffer harm due to unsafe products. That is why we are here to stand by you and your family.
If you were injured by a hoverboard or another product get in touch with our team! We were voted best law firm by readers of The State in 2014 and 2015.