Tragedy recently struck a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania family when a fire caused by a recharging hoverboard consumed their home, killing a 3-year-old girl, injuring several others and almost bringing the structure to the ground. According to the city’s fire chief, Brian Enterline, sparks and sizzling were heard coming from the outlet in which the device was plugged into before the toy ultimately burst into flames and set fire to the home.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission linked hoverboard toys to 60 house fires across the country, but this is the first unfortunate tragedy to involve the death of a child. The hazard comes from the hoverboard’s lithium ion batteries that contain a potentially flammable substance if the device is damaged or defectively manufactured. Reports indicate that two other homes burned down in February of 2016, just a few weeks after the hoverboards were purchased as Christmas gifts. By the middle of 2016, the Consumer Products Safety Commission alerted consumers to the device’s dangers and manufacturers ultimately recalled almost half a million units in the United States alone. Airlines even went as far as to ban the devices, due to the risk of fire.
Lawmakers Call for Federal Investigation into Hoverboard Housefire
Following the catastrophic blaze, two Senators, Bob Casey, P.A.., and Amy Klobuchar, Minn., sent a letter to the Consumer Products Safety Commission instructing the agency to review whether or not the hoverboard involved in the blaze was part of any recalls. Should that be the case, the letter asks the Commission to take further action by expanding the recall to ensure other families do not suffer the same fate as the victims of this tragedy.
While an investigation into whether or not the hoverboard should have been on the shelves for purchase continues, it may do little to solve the underlying problem of foreign manufacturers cutting corners on products shipped overseas. According to the Washington Post, almost all of the Chinese companies licensed to manufacture one hoverboard model failed to follow specifications, particularly those involving the battery. State and federal tort laws may allow victims to file claims against domestic companies involved in the distribution and sale of hoverboards if plaintiffs can demonstrate that the defendant knew or should have known the product was too dangerous to sell in the first place. Sadly, many manufacturers allow their dangerous products to enter our nation’s stream of commerce despite knowing the danger posed to ordinary people, and only take corrective action when tragedy befalls innocent victims.
Individuals hurt by a defective product like a should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss their legal rights. While nothing can undo the terrible tragedy caused by the defective hoverboard, individuals harmed by products like these should seek legal help in order to hold wrongdoers accountable and ensure others are not similarly harmed by dangerous and defective products.