Hoverboards: Too Hot to Handle?

The second installment of the beloved “Back to the Future” movie trilogy introduced audiences to the revolutionary hoverboard, which essentially was a levitating skateboard. While that device is currently not commercially available, its familiarity in pop culture made its name ripe for the plucking when a similar product came onto the market. Although this new design resembles an electric scooter without handlebars and is more accurately a “self-balancing two-wheeled board,” it has become popularly known as a hoverboard. First manufactured in 2013 and the “must have” gift this past holiday season, hoverboards have been making headlines recently for being linked to destructive fires.

Gyroscopic sensor pads built into the small platform connecting the two wheels allow the rider to control the hoverboard with their feet. The fires are thought to stem from the lithium-ion batteries that power the device overheating or short-circuiting, resulting in self-ignition. The quality of these batteries varies among the many hoverboard manufacturers, and even the more expensive models may use cheaper components. Most hoverboards are made in bulk in China before being bought by resellers who change a few cosmetic details and add their own brand name.

Two weeks before Christmas, concerns over hoverboards catching fire were serious enough to cause Amazon to stop selling nearly all brands until a manufacturer could provide “documentation demonstrating that all hoverboards you list are compliant with applicable safety standards, including UN 38.3 (battery), UL 1642 (battery), and UL 60950-1 (charger).” Competitor Overstock.com removed all hoverboards from sale and offered a full refund for customers who wanted to return those already purchased. Safety concerns have led more than 60 major airlines to ban hoverboards from being taken on flights, while numerous colleges have banned them from campus until there is a satisfying resolution.

Common Hoverboard Brands:

  • PhunkeeDuck IO Hawk
  • Oxboard Cyboard
  • Scoot Future Foot
  • Monorover Airboard
  • Freego Esway
  • Airwheel iEZWay
  • Overoad Razor
  • Jetson Hover X
  • Skque Swagway

Safety Tips:

  • Never leave the device charging unattended, especially overnight.
  • Make sure the plug is UL listed.
  • Wait an hour after riding before charging, to allow the device to cool.
  • Report any incidents to saferproducts.gov

Trying to get to the root of the problem, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is investigating reports of 28 hoverboard-related fires in 19 states. While some hoverboards have burst into flames during use, others have exploded while charging, leaving homes seriously damaged across the country and as far away as England and Australia. In fact, British authorities revealed in early December that 88 percent of the hoverboards it had tested that had been imported from outside the European Union had failed basic safety checks. Although no hoverboard brand has been directly recalled yet, the CPSC is urging caution until the exact cause of the malfunction is known.

All consumers have a right to be safe while using a product. Manufacturers, distributors and sellers of hoverboards are facing possible liability due to injuries and property damage caused by fires. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski Law has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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