Can Lithium Batteries Explode?

Can Lithium Batteries Explode?

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Can Lithium Batteries Explode?

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: 

Cell Phones 

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. 

Electric Scooters 

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 Wheelchairs

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. 

Electric Cars

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.

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  • Can Lithium Batteries Explode Due to Heat and Sunlight? 

    Lithium batteries can react to extreme temperatures, particularly extreme heat. Their best performance range is at about 50-85 degrees. Below this temperature range, the battery’s performance can suffer, but you will notice few other effects. However, exposing a device with a lithium battery to extreme heat can have more serious consequences. High temperatures can, over time, lead to a degradation of the electrodes within the battery, which can shorten its lifespan. Merely leaving your phone out in the sun for too long should not cause a battery explosion or fire. However, if a lithium battery is exposed to extremely high temperatures for long periods, an explosion could occur. 

  • How Can I Extinguish a Lithium Battery Fire?

    Generally, it is best to let the experts, such as qualified firefighters, handle a lithium battery fire. Traditional fire extinguishers usually cannot extinguish a lithium battery fire safely. However, if a small device such as a phone or laptop caught fire and you want to limit damage to your surroundings, you can use water to extinguish the fire. Make sure your device is unplugged beforehand. 

    Once you have extinguished the flames, you should continue to cool the battery with water to stop it from igniting again, as the remaining lithium cells in the battery could cause another fire. Avoid picking up the device as this could cause injury.

  • What Should I Do After A Lithium Battery Explosion?

    A lithium battery explosion can be dangerous. Your best next steps when your device catches fire or explodes are: 

    Call 911 

    Call 911 for help and advice. Your best step is to let professionals handle an explosion, especially if a fire is involved. In the meantime, if you can do so, take the device outside and place it on the sidewalk or a concrete driveway. You can then cool the device and extinguish the fire with copious amounts of water while waiting for help. Since the battery can catch fire again and emit toxic gas, ensure to keep everyone away from the area, including pets.

    Seek Medical Help

    If you suffered any burns from the explosion, ensure to see a doctor immediately for treatment. Consider seeking medical advice even if you feel fine and have no visible injuries. Since batteries include toxic compounds and gases, you may not be immediately aware of any adverse effects on your health. A medical report can be essential if you later want to pursue legal action against a manufacturer or another responsible party. 

    Document the Incident

    Take photos of the damaged device or battery. Do not throw away the item. Instead, keep it in a safe place once the fire is completely extinguished. Make sure to take photographs of your injuries and property damage, such as damaged clothes, furniture, and furnishings. Make detailed notes about what happened, including the time, date, and events leading up to the explosion. Did the battery get hot? Did the device develop a bulge? If the fire department attended, ask them for an incident report. Do not forget to get a copy of the medical report from your doctor.

    Contact a Product Liability Lawyer

    Experiencing a lithium battery explosion can be frightening and cause emotional, physical, and financial consequences. Manufacturers must bring safe products to the market and warn consumers of known risks. If you or a loved one got hurt and suffered property damage, you could have a case. Our product liability lawyers can walk you through your legal options.

  • What Is My Lithium Battery Explosion Case Worth?

    The damages you could recover can depend on various factors, including your medical costs, property damage, and the extent of your physical and emotional suffering. As every case is unique, and victims will have varying injuries and expenses, there is no average settlement in such cases. However, some lawsuits have settled for considerable amounts, especially when victims suffered permanent injuries and disfigurement due to a battery explosion.

    While the outcome of a case can be difficult to predict, our attorneys will leave no stone unturned to fight for a fair settlement for victims of a lithium battery explosion or fire. We can determine the potential worth of your case once we know the scope and long-term effects of your injuries, calculate your expenses, and assess all available evidence.

  • Our Product Liability Lawyers Are Here for You 

    Many devices with lithium batteries, such as e-cigarettes and cell phones, are used close to our faces. Therefore, injuries caused by an exploding lithium battery can be severe, disfiguring, and permanent. Astronomical medical bills are sure to arise after any significant injury. If this has happened to you, Morgan & Morgan has your back and could help you seek compensation from a manufacturer. 

    As the largest personal injury firm in the country, we have the resources to fight even complex product liability claims. Our attorneys have years of experience in the field and have helped countless victims of defective products receive the compensation they need and deserve. We could help you too. You don’t pay a dime unless we win and successfully obtain damages for you. Contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation. 

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