Lithium batteries are the most common rechargeable batteries today and power many devices and appliances, such as cell phones, laptops, and even electric cars. Although generally safe, lithium batteries can explode or burst into flames, causing severe injuries.
While lithium batteries can explode for many reasons, a manufacturer could be responsible. Therefore, if you suffered injuries from an exploding lithium battery, you could be entitled to damages such as medical costs, income loss, pain and suffering, and others. Morgan & Morgan is here for you. Contact us today to learn about your legal rights in a free case review.
What Is a Lithium Battery?
Lithium batteries, specifically lithium-ion batteries, find use in many different applications and power laptops, cell phones, tablets, power tools, cameras, e-cigarettes, and many other devices. Lithium batteries use lithium as their main electrochemical compound and generate a relatively large amount of power for their size. Lithium batteries have become popular since they can deliver three times more power than other battery technologies. Lithium-ion batteries are also generally rechargeable.
However, lithium batteries also have some disadvantages. They can overheat, which may lead to explosions and fire. Therefore, lithium batteries require some additional safety mechanisms that can increase an appliance’s weight and impact performance. Lithium batteries are also more expensive than many other types of batteries.
Lithium Batteries Can Explode
Lithium batteries are generally safe. However, we use millions of lithium batteries in a broad spectrum of consumer products, and malfunctions can occur. A lithium battery can explode or burst into flames due to various reasons, including:
- Manufacturing defects
- Use of low-quality materials
- Product design defects
- Incorrect assembly of the battery
- Lack of proper insulation
- Inadequate ventilation
- Improper storage
- Improper charging
- Exposure to extreme temperatures
- Physical damage
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 25,000 lithium battery-containing consumer products overheated or caught fire over a five-year period. An exploding battery can be hazardous and cause painful injuries. Lithium batteries contain flammable substances and toxic chemicals that can cause skin burns and other injuries.
Injuries From Exploding Lithium Batteries
Exploding lithium batteries can cause injuries from fire and release toxic compounds during an explosion. Examples of injuries due to an exploding or burning lithium battery include:
- Significant burns
- Respiratory distress
- Broken bones
- Facial and dental injuries
- Eye damage
A Manufacturer May Be Responsible
When a lithium battery fails and catches fire or explodes, the manufacturer could be responsible. Manufacturers sometimes take shortcuts with research and development, leading to design mistakes when integrating the battery into a product. Moreover, manufacturers are always trying to find ways to fit more powerful batteries into smaller appliances, which can result in overheating and explosions of products such as phones.
Moreover, if a lithium battery charges too quickly, it could also overheat and explode. Therefore, manufacturers should include safe chargers with all their products and warn consumers that using another charger could lead to battery overheating or explosion.
Examples of Products With Lithium Batteries
These days, lithium batteries power a large variety of consumer products, such as:
Lithium batteries power most, if not all, modern cell phones. In recent years, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone made headlines as it was linked to several explosions. The phone was subsequently banned on flights and recalled by the manufacturer.
Tablets and laptops have had their fair share of issues linked to lithium batteries exploding. So much so that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found it necessary to release safety tips on notebook use, such as:
- Avoid incompatible batteries and chargers
- Do not use your computer on your lap or soft surfaces to prevent overheating
- Avoid dropping a laptop as this can cause damage to the battery
Exploding lithium batteries have caused problems in electronic cigarettes such as vape pens. Since vape pens are becoming increasingly popular, incidents with exploding batteries are on the rise. When an e-cigarette explodes or bursts into flames, severe facial, eye, and dental injuries can result. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), e-cigarette batteries may be more prone to fire and explosion due to a design defect.
There have been instances of electric scooters bursting into flames for no apparent reason, which could be traced to a lithium battery catching fire or exploding. Causes for the fires and explosions of scooters can be manufacturing defects or improper handling and storage of the scooter and battery.
Electric wheelchair lithium batteries have caught fire and exploded. A recent incident occurred on a plane due to fly from Paris to Israel in 2019. A wheelchair lithium battery in the aircraft’s hold exploded, leading to a grounding of the flight. Batteries in wheelchairs can potentially explode due to wiring issues or problems with the battery itself. Wheelchair users could suffer severe injuries since they may be unable to move away from a burning wheelchair.
Most electric cars use lithium batteries as their fuel source. However, electric car batteries can potentially catch fire, release toxic gases, and explode in an accident. Several lawsuits filed against electric car manufacturer Tesla allege lithium battery defects caused spontaneous car fires.
While lithium batteries are known to carry some risks, manufacturers are generally aware of the potential dangers of the batteries and how to minimize problems with adequate product design. However, accidents can occur when manufacturers put profits before safety. If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries due to an exploding lithium battery, our attorneys could help. You may be entitled to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation for your medical bills and other damages.
You Could Have a Product Liability Case
Generally, manufacturers of consumer products such as cell phones and cars must ensure their products are safe. If a product carries dangers, manufacturers must warn consumers adequately to prevent injuries and deaths. However, in some cases, corporations cut corners, endangering consumers. Impacted victims could file a product liability case and recover compensation. If you got hurt due to an exploding lithium battery, you could potentially file a lawsuit against:
- The manufacturer of the defective product
- The lithium battery manufacturer
- A distributor, wholesaler, or retailer of the defective product
Compensation Victims Could Receive After a Battery Explosion
If you suffered damages from a device exploding or catching fire, you could pursue compensation from the liable parties. The following damages and others may be available:
- Lost wages
- Future lost income
- Medical expenses
- Future estimated medical costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Permanent disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of life quality
Compensation will depend on the circumstances of your lithium battery incident, your injuries, and the damages suffered.