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More tragedies linked to hoverboards

The controversy over hoverboards grows greater every day. The self-balancing, motorized scooters were a must-have toy in Chicago this holiday season, even though many retailers pulled them from their shelves because of safety risks.

Hoverboards were in the news again this week when an accidental shooting occurred as a boy fell off the toy while playing with a gun. That terrible and tragic example of children playing with guns is not the first accident linked to hoverboards.

In addition children falling off the boards, reports have surfaced of hoverboards malfunctioning and exploding. The explosions have been big enough to burn down homes.

Two dogs were killed in a house fire that stemmed from a hoverboard blaze in California recently, and two teenagers and their father were injured when a hoverboard caught fire and burned down their $1 million home in Tennessee last month.

Why are hoverboards still on the market?

This is a tough question. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has been investigating hoverboard safety for months. If you have been injured in a hoverboard fall or fire, report it to www.SaferProducts.gov.

One complication is that hoverboards are manufactured and sold by many different companies, and there are counterfeits. It is possible that some brands are safe and others are not.

The CPSC has warned consumers that any hoverboard touting approval by Underwriters Laboratories may be counterfeit. A UL label is typically an indication of a product's safety, but currently no UL certification exists for hoverboards. (Components, such as power supplies and battery packs may be certified).

What can you do if you own a hoverboard?

While the CPSC determines what its next steps should be, it is advising consumers to:

  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby when using or charging a hoverboard
  • Charge hoverboards in an open area away from any combustible materials
  • Wear a helmet, elbow pads and wrist guards when riding
  • And, do not ride near or on a road

Some retailers are not waiting for the CPSC's next steps. Amazon is limiting the sale of hoverboards and offering full refunds to anyone who purchased one from the site. If you purchased a hoverboard from Amazon and are now concerned about whether it is safe, consider returning it.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a hoverboard accident in the Chicago area, the product liability attorneys at Seidman Margulis & Fairman, LLP, can help you understand your options. Companies can and should be held liable for design defects, manufacturing defects, product failures and insufficient warning labels that result in harm to consumers. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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