It seems as if Lithium-ion batteries are used in practically every product these days. The global move towards effective climate Solutions has caused demand for lithium to skyrocket. The element is used in rechargeable batteries And practically every portable technological device. In most cases, lithium-ion batteries provide effective power storage solutions and increase the battery capability of things like your smartphone. However, lithium ions have also been known to pose safety risks for product users. Specifically, lithium-ion batteries have occasionally been known to explode, causing serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured by an exploding lithium-ion battery, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Common Devices that Use Lithium-ion Batteries
Here is just a partial list of devices that may rely on a lithium-ion battery:
- Bluetooth devices
- Handheld gaming devices
Now, lithium-ion batteries feature prominently in electric cars. As the world moves away from the gasoline-powered vehicles, even more lithium will be demanded. Accordingly, numerous countries have stepped up their efforts to mine for lithium. There are some estimates that the demand for lithium can grow by nearly 40 times in the coming years. Numerous countries have pledged to meet certain targets under the Paris Agreement, and lithium batteries feature prominently in their efforts.
How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work
Lithium-ion batteries rely on an active electrical current. Here are the parts of a lithium-ion battery:
- Two current collectors (positive and negative)
The lithium is stored in the anode and cathode. The electrolyte carries the positively charged lithium ions back and forth from the anode to the cathode. The movement of the lithium ions in the battery creates free electrons in the anode, thereby creating a charge at the positive current collector.
Why Lithium-Ion Batteries Catch Fire or Explode
Lithium-ion batteries may catch fire or explode under certain circumstances. The current in the lithium-ion battery means that the battery itself can be flammable. Therefore, it is essential that manufacturers design these batteries with safety in mind and using high-quality components that are not at risk of degrading.
Here are some of the top causes of lithium-ion battery fires and explosions:
- Impurities may seep into the battery during the manufacturing process or the separations may be thinned
- Manufacturers may design the battery with performance in mind as opposed to worrying about safety. For example, a car manufacturer may want the battery to allow for the car to have a sleek and dynamic appearance, and they may take design or safety shortcuts.
- The customer may not properly use the battery because the manufacturer has not given the right instructions for the optimal safety. For example, they may use it close to an open fire because they have not been told that it is dangerous.
- The battery charger may be defective And can damage the battery itself.
- Manufacturers may take shortcuts to save money and maximize their own profits by using low-quality components. Poor quality components can increase the risk of battery failure or a serious accident such as a fire or explosion. The skyrocketing cost of lithium itself can mean that manufacturers are trying to find other ways where they can cut corners.
Lithium-ion batteries have all of the elements needed to self-sustain a fire. The battery may contain combustible gasses that may explode when exposed to certain stresses.
Manufacturers Are Cutting Corners and Companies Like Amazon Profit
It is essential that manufacturers ensure that buyers receive a safe product. They must do quality control, both when they designed the product and in the factory. Quality control can help prevent some serious accidents that can injure customers and others. However, many manufacturers are simply out for profits, and they do not take the proper safety precautions. Given the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries, the number of people who were injured in these fires and explosions will increase in the future.
One of the major problems is that third-party platforms such as Amazon feature extremely cheap products that are sold with little recourse or accountability. It is always very difficult for an injured buyer to locate the cellar because they often disappear after the transaction. Consumers have only recently had more ability to sue the third party in a product liability lawsuit. However, the lack of accountability and the temptation for quick profits have spurred product manufacturers to cut as many corners as they can in the name of profits.
Local reports detail increasing numbers of lithium-ion battery-related injuries. For example, the FDNY has reported that 66 people were injured and five killed In just the first five months of 2021. These statistics just cover one large city, and they do not even detail injuries caused by exploding batteries.
E-Cigarettes and E-Bikes Frequently Catch Fire or Explode
The rise in e-cigarette usage has shown the public the risks of lithium-ion batteries that are carried around in pockets and are used in close proximity to the face. Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to explode when they get too hot. That is exactly what occurs with extensive usage under the wrong conditions.
Another recent major cause of lithium-ion battery explosions has been e-bike batteries. New York City has banned e-bikes from apartment buildings in light of their risks. In one case, a luxury East Side apartment building erupted in flames due to an e-bike located in one of the apartments.
Injuries in a Lithium-Ion Battery Explosion
Exploding lithium-ion batteries can cause the following injuries:
- Severe burns
- Broken teeth
- Facial fractures
- Broken neck
- Impact wounds
These injuries can cause significant damages, both financial and otherwise. You may need extensive medical treatment for your injuries. In addition, the physical scars of the attack could leave you permanently disfigured.
Lawsuits for Defective Lithium-ion Batteries
If you have been injured by an exploding lithium-ion battery, you may be able to sue the manufacturer in a product liability lawsuit. The company that made the product that contains the battery could be liable to you if its defects caused you to be injured. You may also sue the company that made the battery itself.
First, you must prove that the lithium-ion battery had one of the following defects:
- Something went wrong in the manufacturing process that caused the lithium-ion battery to be unreasonably dangerous.
- There was a design defect that caused the product to be unreasonably dangerous for its intended use
- There was a marketing defect, where the manufacturer knew or should have known of a danger and did not alert the public or pull the product from circulation
There have been numerous instances in which product manufacturers have been shown to have known about the danger of their products. For example, in one 2012 Consumer Product Safety Commission enforcement action, Hewlett-Packard was fined because it knew of 31 different incidents involving notebook battery packs that it failed to report to the CPSC.
Currently, companies like Apple are facing a multitude of lawsuits for exploding iPhone batteries. The number of lithium-ion battery lawsuits continues to grow. If you or a loved one has been injured, you should seek legal help immediately. An experienced attorney can help you file a product liability lawsuit that could lead to financial compensation. As always, you do not owe an attorney anything unless you win your case.