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Hoverboards linked to at least 52 fires

Ohio residents may be aware that self-balancing scooters have become extremely popular since they first appeared on the market in 2015. This type of scooter, which are also known as hoverboards, are basically a small platform for the rider to stand on flanked by two small wheels in a side-by-side configuration. Self-balancing scooters use gyroscopes to interpret the rider's body movements and determine the desired direction of travel. The devices are particularly popular on college campuses, but safety concerns could soon see many of the majority of the hoverboards currently available removed from the market.

In a Feb. 18 letter to hoverboard manufacturers, retailers and importers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the popular devices represented a threat to American consumers. The letter mentioned that at least 52 fires in 24 states have been linked to self-balancing scooters. While these fires may not have resulted in any major injuries, they did raze two residences and destroyed property worth approximately $2 million.

The independent regulatory agency also reminded companies that make, import or sell hoverboards about the voluntary safety standards that have been established for the devices by Underwriters Laboratories, and they warned that self-balancing scooters that did not meet UL standards could be seized or recalled. A CPSC representative said that there are no hoverboards currently on the market that meet these standards.

Consumers who suffer injury, loss or damage due to a defective product may pursue civil remedies, but this kind of litigation can be challenging when the manufacturer concerned is based overseas. In these situations, attorneys with experience in this area may sometimes initiate litigation against importers, distributors or retailers of the product in question. While these companies may have no input over how products are designed or assembled, they could be held responsible if they have continued to be associated with products that they know to be dangerous.

Source: Engadget, "Feds say there isn't a single safe 'hoverboard'", Mariella Moon, Feb. 20, 2016

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