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Battery Failure and Explosion Causing Injury

New York Fire Hazard Attorneys

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular sources of power used in electronics today. They are especially popular in laptops and smartphones. Lithium ion batteries have a high energy density, small memory effect, and lose charge very slowly when not in use. Over 650 Million lithium ion batteries are produced each year. Although battery failure is relatively rare, with the ever increasing demand for lithium ion batteries comes an increase in injury frequency.

If you were injured as a result of a lithium battery malfunction, call our New York product liability attorneys at (212) 684-1880.

Dangers of Overheating

Lithium ion batteries can overheat to the point where a component reaches its ignition point. Overheating can easily start a fire and injure those using or around the affected product. Over the years, millions of batteries have been recalled because of potential explosions due to manufacturing defects.

Lithium is an extremely light metal and has the highest energy density by weight, making it a great choice for rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are used in a variety of products, including:

  • Cellular phones and cordless phones
  • Laptops and tablets
  • Smart watches
  • Power tools and garden tools
  • Electric cars, scooters and bicycles
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Digital cameras
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Variety of toys
  • GPS devices, etc.

Despite dangers, lithium is a very popular battery because of the light weight and ability to hold a charge for a long time. Lithium-ion batteries are able to charge to about 80 percent capacity in only about two hours.

How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work and Why They Explode

Batteries can explode due to a process known as thermal runaway, where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature. If the battery produces more heat than it can handle it can cause an explosion. Lithium ion batteries are composed of layers of metallic material separated by a porous liquid electrolyte film. Because this flammable electrolyte is kept pressurized, when heated too much it can form a gas and explode from the battery container and cause a fire.

Lithium-ion batteries can be damaged when exposed to heat in excess of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, overcharging, manufacturing defects (cut off switch and temperature regulation defects), and product tampering can cause battery failure. Once the battery fails and explodes it can burn users or result in a fire when contacting clothing or other flammables. Injuries from battery failure include:

  • Facial burns
  • Body burns
  • Fires causing destruction of personal property
  • Fires causing destruction of a dwelling.

Notable Recall & Liability

In response to accidents and failures certain lots of lithium-ion batteries have been recalled by companies. Notably, Sony recalled over 9.6 million batteries in 2006. Over 4 million of the recalled batteries were in Dell laptops and 1.8 million in Apple laptops. Anyone injured by one of these batteries may have grounds for a lawsuit to recover financial losses.