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Our expert product liability lawyers secured compensation for a woman whose Christmas was ruined when her son’s hoverboard exploded just days after she bought it, leaving her with serious burns and causing the rest of the family considerable psychological distress.
Our client JoAnn bought the electrical device from the well-known wholesaler Costco as a present for her 11 year old son, but they had only had it 6 days when it burst into flames as she went to take it off charge. The two-wheeled self-balancing scooters have proved immensely popular with consumers in recent years, but JoAnn was just one of many people who were affected by a run of poorly made models being imported in the run up to Christmas in 2015.
Trading Standards confiscated thousands of imported hoverboards last year, with a considerable amount being destroyed because of their failure to meet with European safety standards. Costco was among the retailers who were forced to remove some models from sale after the investigation revealed that much of the stock was not fit for purpose. Unfortunately, this did not stop consumers such as JoAnn falling foul of some defective models that slipped through the net.
Electrical analysis on the exploded board flagged safety issues with numerous parts of the product, including batteries, charger, plugs, and cabling. Hoverboards use lithium ion batteries, which store a lot of energy and can easily explode in the event of electrical failure. The poor manufacturing of the board bought by JoAnn meant with these underlying risks it was an accident waiting to happen.
Our expert product liability lawyers secured a settlement from Costco for the Ensell family, both for JoAnn’s injuries and the damage done to the family home in the explosion. Matthew Newbould, representing the case, also went on the ITV Tonight programme with the family to talk about the case as part of Irwin Mitchell’s SafetyAsStandard campaign: a drive to tighten up consumer rights and manufacturing laws around counterfeit products, to protect people from these kinds of accidents.
Matthew said: "The huge range of consumer products available in today’s market place inevitably means that some products are less safe than others, especially given the number of counterfeit products being sold.
Buying a fake electrical product can pose a serious safety threat, from leaking batteries to products overheating and exploding.
"Even reputable retailers can unwittingly end up with counterfeit products on their shelves – we advise customers to take precautions such as checking for the CE mark and registering the warranty with the manufacturer.
"If you are able to pay with a credit card this also provides an extra level of protection, as claims can often be made against the credit card issuer as well as the manufacturer or retailer in the case of a faulty product.”
JoAnn spoke of her ordeal and cautioned others against buying similar products from anyone but a trusted retailer.
"I was taking the hoverboard off charge and it suddenly exploded like a bomb had gone off. I suffered excruciating burns that carried all the way from my hand and up to the top of my arm, and even my hair caught fire. My blistered skin was the worst pain I have ever experienced but I was more worried about the safety of my son.
"My burns have healed since the accident but I still have scarring and the terrifying memory of what happened. I would advise anyone buying an electrical gift this Christmas to only buy from a reputable company, check all parts of the product and to never leave them unattended when charging."
If you’ve been injured by a faulty product we urge you to get in contact on 0370 1500 100. Our product liability lawyers have extensive experience dealing with a wide variety of cases and could help you get the compensation you deserve.
Visit our SafetyAsStandard page to read more about the campaign, including top tips to help you buy safely as well as information on your consumer rights.
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