The most popular toy of the 2015 holiday season was, arguably, the hoverboard. It is easy to understand why: they are cool-looking, and they give the rider the appearance of hovering above the ground, even though they really work more like a self-propelled Segway than anything else. Unfortunately, these futuristic toys are proving more dangerous than fun, and new stories come out every day about the hoverboard’s tendency to burst into flame.
How many people have been hurt is still unknown. The Advocate claims up to 20 riders in Louisiana alone have been injured by exploding hoverboards; the Consumer Products Safety Commission tweeted that 12 fire investigations had been opened by December 15, 2015, but that number may go up since the holidays are past.
What is causing the problem?
So far, no one actually knows. As CNET.com puts it, “there’s no single reason why these hoverboards are exploding, and there’s no sure-fire way to avoid potential catastrophe if you want to buy one yourself. There’s no particular brand of hoverboard to avoid — they all seem to come from thousands of interchangeable factories in China — or any label on the box that guarantees a product won’t explode.”
But that has not stopped people from speculating. Jay Whitacre, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told Wired that the root of the problem is the quality of the lithium-ion batteries. As manufacturers attempted to pump out more and more products, they chose to use a lesser-quality battery (known as a “low-cost li-ion battery”) to keep up with demand. The greater likeliness of a battery defect, combined with the propensity of hoverboard riders to bump into things (and thus put a lot of wear, tear and pressure on the vehicle) make them more likely to burst into flames or explode.
What we do know for sure is that the results of an exploding hoverboard can be devastating: people have suffered serious burns, and some families have lost their homes to the fires caused by the hoverboards. The potential for a large-scale recall is clear, and we may see hundreds if not thousands of families filing lawsuits against the manufacturers for mass-producing defective products, or for failing to warn consumers of the dangers.
If you purchased a hoverboard for your child and he or she was injured, you should seek medical attention right away. You should also keep the hoverboard in a safe space where it can do no further damage and can be evaluated by our office for a potential claim.
For more information about defective product litigation, or to speak with a Southaven personal injury attorney at Taylor Jones Taylor, we invite you to contact us. With offices here in Southaven and also in Olive Branch and Hernando, we are always close by when you need us the most.