Explosions caused by lithium-ion batteries

Nov 19, 2019 | Product Liability

Lithium-ion batteries are used in many electronic devices purchased by people in the state of Washington and across the United States. The small size of these batteries easily fit into portable electronic devices that are often taken to places of work and recreation, or simply used at home. However, sometimes these batteries are defective and may explode, causing serious injury to people nearby.

A piece run in The Atlantic describes a number of incidents involving lithium-ion batteries. A New Yorker purchased a replacement battery for his laptop that exploded a few nights later, igniting his couch and inflicting burns on him that required medical treatment. Lithium batteries have also exploded in devices such as cell phones and vape pens. The U.S. Fire Administration linked lithium-ion batteries to the primary cause of 195 different explosions and fires from 2009 to 2017.

These incidents resulted in a variety of injuries and damages. Exploding batteries caused hoverboards to catch fire. In one instance, one whole house burned to the ground. Some people experienced severe burns. The Atlantic piece describes an incident when one man had to go to the intensive care unit. Other injuries have involved a person losing an eye and an explosion victim suffering serious brain injury.

The problem with lithium-ion batteries is that they may combust if they are overheated. These batteries are small, yet they conduct a significant amount of energy to power an electronic device. That makes their design all the more crucial. A lithium-ion battery that is poorly designed or constructed with cheap, poor quality materials may run past its limits to safely conduct energy and explode.

So who is responsible for exploding batteries? In the case of Amazon, it is not always easy to lock down a culpable party. Many potentially dangerous products are not actually sold by Amazon itself. They are available through third party sellers who may disappear quickly after making a few sales to try to dodge legal action. Also, many lithium-ion batteries are made in China, where monitoring their production is difficult.

An exploding battery due to poor construction is not your fault. Americans who suffer burn injuries and property damage due to exploding lithium-ion batteries have the option to pursue compensation for their damages. In addition to physical damage, such compensation may include psychological harm wrought by your burn incident and lost wages from not being able to go to work.