What’s the Problem?
Hoverboards are powered by lithium-ion batteries similar to those used in smartphones, laptop computers and electric cars. These batteries are compact and hold a lot of energy, but also pose a significant fire risk when manufactured cheaply. A defect inside the cell of a low-quality battery may cause it to short circuit, resulting in an explosion and/or fire.
CPSC Investigates Hoverboard Injuries
In January 2016, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that it was investigating dozens of fires involving hoverboards.
“Many of these fires occurred indoors and could have resulted in serious injuries if not for the quick actions of consumers to extinguish the fire,” CPSC said. “This is a priority investigation and CPSC is devoting the staff time and resources necessary to find the root causes of the fires.”
The agency noted that, while some components of hoverboards may be certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), there is currently no such certification for hoverboards themselves. Thus, each model is being investigated individually to look for specific problems.
In July 2016, CPSC announced a nationwide recall for about 501,000 hoverboards over concerns that the devices may “overheat, posing a risk of the products smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.” Products affected by the recall include:
- Swagway X1 model
- Razor Hovertrax
- Airwalk Self Balancing Electric Scooter
- Hype Roam
- Back to the Future
- Mobile Tech
- Hover Shark
- X Glider
- X Rider
Additionally, retailer Overstock.com issued a recall for all hoverboards sold on its website, and Pennsylvania-based retailer Boscov’s recalled about 1,300 Orbit hoverboards.
“Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled products and contact the recalling company to return their hoverboard for a full refund, a free repair or a free replacement depending on the model,” CPSC said.
Hoverboard Injuries May Result from Manufacturing Defect, Not User Error
CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye has noted that in addition to the dozens of fires caused by hoverboards, the agency is investigating the cause of fall injuries linked to the devices.
“At first glance, it is easy to believe the risk of falling off a hoverboard is an obvious one and to dismiss those injuries as user inexperience or error,” Kaye said. “However, I am concerned, for example, that the current designs of these products might not take fully into consideration the different weights of different users, potentially leading to the units speeding up or lurching in a manner that a user would not have reason to anticipate, especially a first-time user.”
“Fall injuries can be serious and life-altering. Many people, including children, have ended up with fractures, contusions or head/brain injuries. Hospitals across the country are reporting spikes in children and adults being admitted after suffering serious falls.”
If you have a hoverboard, CPSC recommends that you use extreme caution when operating it, and have a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using the board. Be sure to charge the hoverboard in an open area away from flammable materials, and always wear safety gear including pads and helmet. Lastly, avoid riding your hoverboard on or near public roads.
Mother Warns Parents After Son’s Hoverboard Catches Fire While Charging
July 1, 2019 – A mother from Abergavenny, Wales, is pleading with parents to be extra cautious when purchasing hoverboards for their children, after her son’s went up in flames while charging next to his bed, according to WalesOnline. Steph Edwards bought her 10-year-old son Josh a self-balancing electronic scooter for Christmas last year on a website she thought was reputable for around £200. However, while Josh was charging the scooter fully for the first time on Monday, the hoverboard caught fire and flames spread to his bed and flooring, Steph said.
She says that if her 12-year-old daughter Tirion hadn’t heard the hoverboard “making popping noises” from her bedroom, the fire could have destroyed their home.
“Luckily we managed to all get out,” she said. “I know sometimes you look for a bargain and you think it’s worth it but it’s not.”
Milwaukee Family Claims Hoverboard Fire Destroyed Home on Christmas
January 3, 2017 – A toy hoverboard appears to be the cause of a Christmas night fire in New Haven, Connecticut, that displaced 4 people and sent 1 to the hospital.
Battalion Chief Ben Vargas told the New Haven Register that the hoverboard fire was limited to one room of the second-floor unit in the Farnham Court apartments and was quickly extinguished.
All 4 apartment occupants were adults; 1 was hospitalized after complaining of difficulty breathing, possibly from smoke inhalation. The source of the fire remains under investigation but it appears the hoverboard was to blame, according to Vargas.
In most cases, hoverboards catch fire because they come equipped with a defective battery. There is a huge difference in the quality and price of the various hoverboards on the market. Until Amazon’s decision to ban several types of hoverboards over safety concerns, models ranged from $300 to $700 each, with the low-end versions being manufactured without much quality control.
CPSC Issues 2nd Recall on Hoverboards Over Fire / Explosion Risk
November 15, 2017 – CPSC is recalling hoverboards from several companies for a 2nd time over concerns the devices could catch fire or explode. The alert followed at least 2 reports of fire associated with LayZ Board hoverboards, the most recent of which destroyed 1 home and damaged 4 others last month, CPSC said.
iRover Recalls Hoverboards Over Fire / Explosion Risk
July 26, 2017 – iRover is recalling 2 models of hoverboards over concerns that their lithium ion batteries can overheat, catch fire and explode. Affected devices were sold at Fallas Discount Stores in Los Angeles, California, as well as at TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores nationwide from December 2015 through April 2017 for between $300 and $400.
Charging Hoverboard Sparks Fire in San Diego Home
June 20, 2017 – A charging hoverboard started a fire last weekend at a Coronado home in San Diego County.
The hoverboard fire caused smoke to fill the house and soot to cover all the walls and furnishings, leading to an estimated $22,500 in damages, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Coronado Fire Battalion Chief Perry Peake said the hoverboard, which was plugged in for charging in one of the bedrooms, caught fire around 12:40 p.m on Saturday, and the flames spread to a nearby bed.
Quick work by firefighters kept the flames from spreading past the bedroom; however, the family was displaced due to extensive smoke and soot damage through the house.
“These things have been catching fire for a couple of years,” Peake said. He said he didn’t know whether it was the board or the charger that started the fire.
CPSC Issues Warning on LayZ Board Hoverboards After House Fire Kills 2 Children
May 2, 2017 – After a fatal house fire was sparked by an exploding hoverboard, the CPSC has issued an “urgent warning” against riding or charging LayZ Board hoverboards.
On March 10, 2017, a LayZ Board hoverboard began to “sizzle” and then “exploded into flames” while being charged inside a home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The resulting fire killed 2-year-old Ashanti Hughes and 10-year-old Savannah Dominick, who ran upstairs to help her younger relatives escape the blaze.
“My granddaughter, we can’t replace her. The pain is so deep,” said Mark Hughes, Ashanti’s grandfather. “Just be careful with everything you buy.”
CPSC said it was the first fatal fire linked directly to an exploding hoverboard. The agency is also investigating over 100 non-fatal hoverboard fires in at least 39 U.S. states.
More than 3,000 LayZ Board hoverboards have been imported into the U.S., according to the CPSC. In most cases, the agency works with manufacturers to coordinate a recall, but in this case an official recall has not been issued, suggesting that the China-based company is refusing to cooperate.
“The fire risk with this product is serious,” said Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting Chair of the CPSC. “Consumers should immediately stop using and stop charging the LayZ Board — it’s just not worth the risk to your safety and the safety of your family.”
Hoverboard Manufacturer Sues Jennifer Lopez
April 3, 2017 – Jennifer Lopez has been hit with a lawsuit for lack of influence to promote a hoverboard manufacturer on social media.
According to the lawsuit, the Sidekick Group in 2015 sent “J Lo” 42 custom hoverboards as props for her Planet Hollywood show in Las Vegas in exchange for her agreeing to promote the devices on her personal Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Lopez did tweet about the products once, in a video featuring backup dancers riding hoverboards while she sung “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” It was a clever idea, but one tweet wasn’t going to cut it for the Sidekick Group.
The company claims it spent $54,390 on the hoverboards and is now suing Lopez for that amount as a result of her failing to live up to her obligation.
This isn’t the first time Sidekick Group has filed a hoverboard lawsuit against a celebrity. Last year, the company sued NFL cornerback Richard Sherman for allegedly backing out of a promo deal. The complaint was later dropped.
Orbit Hoverboards Recalled Over Fire Risk
December 14, 2016 – World Trading has issued a recall for about 1,900 Orbit hoverboards / self-balancing scooters over concerns that the lithium-ion battery packs can overheat, posing a risk of smoking, catching fire and/or exploding. The hoverboards were sold on Evine’s televised shopping programs and online for about $300.
Tennessee Family Sues Amazon After Hoverboard Fire Destroys House
November 2, 2016 – A family from Nashville, Tennessee, is suing Amazon after their million-dollar home was allegedly destroyed by a fire caused by lithium-ion batteries in a hoverboard they purchased in January.
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Megan Fox purchased what she thought was a FITBURO F1 hoverboard with an “original Samsung advanced battery” as a Christmas present for her son on the Amazon website through a third party merchant called “W-Deals” on Nov. 3, 2015.
Then on Jan. 9, the hoverboard’s battery exploded – a shockingly common occurrence that led to the recall of over 500,000 hoverboards by the CPSC in July.
Two of the family’s children were at home at the time of the fire and had to escape by breaking windows and jumping from the second floor. The home and most of the family’s belongings went up in flames. The only items they were able to salvage were their vehicles and a handful of water-damaged books and pictures, according to the lawsuit.
Amazon is not typically liable for the behavior of third-party merchants who use its platform to sell their products. However, “W-Deals” was a sham organization that sold counterfeit Chinese-made products on the website, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs say they spent months trying to track down the actual manufacturer of the hoverboard without success. If no manufacturer can be found, Tennessee product liability law states that a plaintiff can sue the “seller” instead.
The complaint further alleges that Amazon was negligent in failing to warn customers about safety problems with hoverboards, which it claims should have been known to the company prior to the Jan. 9 fire.
Do I Need a Hoverboard Lawyer?
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in hoverboard lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one was injured, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.