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Hoverboards are giving an entirely new meaning to the phrase  ‘hot trend’ after reports of both fires and injuries connected to the scooter have begun to mount. As the holiday season moves into full swing we can almost expect to see these incidents grow exponentially as more of these trendy devices are gifted.

Hoverboards need to be on your subrogation radar.

Little did a father know when he purchased the self-balancing scooter for his 13-year-old son, of the potential dangers lurking inside the two-wheeled phenomenon. Fire officials have determined that the scooter, which was plugged in and recharging, was the cause of the fire that destroyed their Louisiana home recently.

This apparently was not a singular incident. A few weeks later, a hoverboard was allegedly responsible for another house fire in the same state, also causing significant damage to the residence.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it is investigating ten fires in nine states and has received reports of 30-plus injuries resulting in emergency room visits, all related to the hoverboards.

Add to these a recent fire in a Washington mall and reports of similar conflagrations in the United Kingdom and a suspiciously dangerous pattern begins to emerge both here and abroad

In fact, published reports by the UK’s National Trading Standards on its website noted that “more than 17,000 self-balancing scooters – or ‘hover boards’ – have been examined at national entry point since 15 October due to safety concerns. Of these, over 15,000 (or 88 percent) have been assessed as unsafe and have been detained at the border.” Statistically speaking that is a ridiculously high percentage and should make any potential purchaser exceedingly wary.

With the more stringent European standards in effect, the potential damage from hoverboards is a problem that the United States must grapple with – and soon.

Despite mounting safety concerns and even as major airlines ban them, sales of the product continue to soar.  Earlier this month it was reported that the scooter was selling at a rate of one every 12 seconds.

Initial investigations point a finger at the rechargeable lithium-ion battery as s potential cause of the defect.

As a society, we have grown accustomed to taking necessary precautions when assuming reasonable risk: we wear seatbelts while traveling by automobile or in flight, we use child safety seats for children, proper protective equipment for sports and ensure that our children are wearing helmets, knee and elbow pads while skateboarding. None of these safeguards would protect the consumer from the potential of spontaneous combustion by the use of these “personal transport devices,” nor are there are any requirements at this time for the use of safety equipment when utilizing the device.

As with most must-have fads, its popularity is amped by the sight of athletes and celebrities on the device. Demand fuels heavy price tags, ranging from $300 – $2,000, inevitably leading to lower-cost options.

With the rush to produce more affordable versions, a concern exists with both the quality of the batteries used in less expensive devices and the lack of any overall quality control.

Although many batteries may carry the name of a reputable manufacturer, there have been many instances where batteries are stolen off the overseas factory line before undergoing the final quality control procedure and shipped to a friend or relative in the United States to be sold at a discount.

While the very nature of the personal transport device is rife with potential for striking other objects and occupant injury, battery perforation can cause a “short circuit” and potentially creates a whole other set of problems.

These are potentially similar problems that those of us in the subrogation field have previously faced with batteries in both laptops and cellphones.

Another key component seen as a potential problem with the hover board is the possibility of a defective charging device, which can cause the cells to overcharge and may also result in fire.

New York City recently announced that use of hover boards on city streets is prohibited, and it is expected that other major cities will follow suit.

However, the result of the prohibition may do little to quell the craze. The UK has banned the use of the devices on roadways and sidewalks and limited it to private property. Published reports note that although the use of the device was limited, sales jumped as much as 215 percent.

At Simpson, Sampson & Simon we choose to lead and not follow when it comes to cutting edge subrogation issues. If you suspect you may have a potential subrogation claim involving a hoverboard, please contact Stuart Simpson, Sidney Sampson, or Steven Simon at 866-383-9320.

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