Hoverboards were one of the most popular toys of the 2015 holiday season. They were also one of the most controversial, and for good reason.
Many retailers have banned or limited the sale of hoverboards because of safety concerns. The battery-powered, self-balancing scooters are linked not only to obvious falling injuries, but also to fires and explosions.
In fact, authorities say a hoverboard caused a recent fire that burned down a $1 million home. A 16-year-old girl had to jump out of a second-floor window to escape the fire. Her father caught her, and she was uninjured. A 14-year-old boy fled the second-floor with a ladder.
Why are these toys still on the market? Hoverboards are manufactured, marketed and sold by many different companies and under many different brands. This is making it challenging to determine which specific products should be taken off the shelves; The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently studying reports of injuries, and if you have been injured or witnesses a hoverboard malfunction, report it on saferproducts.gov.
Who Is Liable For Injuries?
Manufacturers and designers of consumer products are required by law to ensure their products are safe for use. They can be held liable for design defects, manufacturing defects and warning defects (when a hoverboard does not include adequate instructions or warnings).
In certain cases, retailers can be held accountable for selling dangerous and defective products, too. Ecommerce giant Amazon pulled hoverboards from its U.S. and UK sites in December, and even told its customers to throw away certain hoverboards. Overstock also removed hoverboards from its site.
Kevin Hirzel of Hirzel Law says that homeowners associations should be careful about allowing residents to ride their hoverboards outside, as the liability could shift to the association if anything bad happens.
In some situations, a hoverboard user can even be held liable if he or she was negligent and caused injuries to another.
Providing product liability or negligence claims is complicated, but it is important that injury victims receive the compensation they need and deserve and that reckless companies are held responsible.