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Lithium Battery Fires and Explosions – Are We Surrounded by Ticking Time Bombs?

September 8, 2017Products Liability

Lithium batteries, commonly used in products such as laptops, smart phones, hover boards, and e-cigarettes, are compact, lightweight, and hold a powerful and long-lasting charge. Lithium batteries are designed for high-energy output with minimal weight.

Over the past few years, however, consumers have learned that these lithium batteries are extremely hazardous due to their propensity to explode and/or catch fire. In fact, several recently-reported incidents of lithium ion batteries exploding and/or causing fires are raising serious concerns.

During a recent city council meeting in Nevada, a woman’s purse suddenly burst into flames due to a battery malfunction in the bag—leaving the woman with burns and charred clothing. In February of 2016, one man’s pocket erupted in a Kentucky convenience store caused by his extra e-cigarette battery. Similarly, in December of 2016, a man in California suffered major injuries due to the battery in his e-cigarette catching fire. Another man in Florida, who was an attorney, caught on fire while in court because his e-cigarette caught fire in his suit pocket.

Other consumers have likewise complained of similar fires/explosions resulting from malfunctions in their smart phones, laptops and hover boards. The TSA went so far as banning certain Samsung phones from flights within the last year.

Lithium batteries are more likely to catch fire or explode if they are exposed to hot conditions or if the battery is somehow compromised. Consumers can take the following precautions to minimize the risk of battery fires:

  • Avoid storing the batteries at high temperatures.
  • Keep them away from hot vehicles.
  • Do not cover laptops or tablets with blankets or leave unattended on bedding.
  • Do not store cell phones in warm articles of clothing.
  • Do not carry e-cigarette devices in articles of clothing or in purses.
  • Avoid storing lithium battery products together.
  • Avoid overcharging your batteries. The batteries do not fare well if they are completely drained before recharging or if they are over-charged. Remember to charge your battery before the charge has completely left the device. Take note that car chargers are notorious for overcharging batteries. Likewise, do not allow your device to charge all night long as your sleep.
  • Avoid charging lithium batteries with power sources that are not approved by the product’s manufacturer.

In the event of a fire or explosion, it is very important to save all evidence in such cases, including most importantly the device that caused the fire and all its component parts.

Houston Products Liability Attorneys

At Ramsey Law Group, our Houston product liability lawyers specialize in product liability actions and cases involving fires and explosions. We have recovered over $100,000,000 for our clients who have been injured or killed by defective products or who have been burned or killed by fires. In 2010, we successfully tried a fire case in Harris County, Texas, which resulted in a Top Ten Texas Verdict in that year.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a lithium-ion battery fire or explosion, contact our Houston personal injury lawyers at Ramsey Law Group for a free consultation.