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Hoverboards were all the rage as Christmas gifts last year. However, it didn't take long before frightening stories started emerging of the lithium battery packs that powered them exploding or catching fire.

The concern was so great that the U.S. Department of Transportation announced last December that hoverboards could not be transported as cargo unless they were in compliance with regulations regarding hazardous materials. They've been banned by airlines in this country.

Recall Covers Over Half a Million Hoverboards

Now, after approximately 100 incidents of fires and explosions and some $2 million in property damage caused by hoverboards, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has finally issued a sweeping recall of them. The CPSC announced on July 6 that it was recalling over 500,000 of the self-balancing scooters. The recall encompasses ten companies, but more than half of them are made by Swagway.

The problem isn't specifically with the lithium batteries themselves, which are found in many types of electronics. It's with the way that the battery packs are linked are placed due to "fundamental design flaws" in the hoverboards, according to CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye.

UL Certification Is Key

In February of this year, new standards were issued for hoverboards. They now have to be certified by UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories), which sets consumer product safety standards. However, the first hoverboard to be UL certified only went on sale in May. This means that most of the hoverboards in people's homes are potentially dangerous.

The CPSC is urging consumers to "immediately" return any hoverboards that aren't UL certified for refund or replacement, even if their particular product isn't included in the recall list provided on the CPSC website.

Although the damage caused by exploding hoverboards thus far seems to have involved property rather than harm to individuals, any product that dangerous could certainly pose a risk of injury or worse. When people are harmed by a defective product, it's often difficult to know whom to hold responsible -- the manufacturer, retailer, distributor and/or other individuals and entities. That's where personal injury attorneys with experience in product liability cases can offer guidance to ensure that all of the appropriate parties are held legally accountable.