Lithium Ion batteries are one of the most important advancements to occur in the past 10 years. These batteries are light-weight, portable, and able to be molded into an array of shapes and sizes to fit in most modern electronics. In fact, the current state of mobile phone, laptop, and other technologies would likely be profoundly different if not for the advent of batteries of this type. Furthermore, certain products, like e-cigarettes and e-vapes, are unlikely to exist at all without a lithium-ion battery.
However, despite their uses and great utility, lithium batteries store relatively large amounts of power. When these batteries malfunction or have problems, an explosion and fire is often the result. These explosions and fires can cause severe, life-altering injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured by an exploding or defective lithium battery in a cell phone, e-cigarette, a laptop, or in another electronic device the personal injury attorneys of Reiff & Bily can fight to obtain compensation for your severe injuries. To schedule a free and confidential defective product and personal injury consultation call our firm at (215) 274-0072 or contact us online today.
Lithium Battery Fires in Laptops, Cell Phones, and Other Consumer Electronics
The lithium batteries contained in laptops, cell phones and other devices can experience thermal runaway and catch fire or explode. One 2014 report of an incident with a cellphone a user reported that her cellphone battery spontaneously exploded while sitting on her nightstand, face-up, and not charging. She wrote on her Facebook page that the “Battery exploded while I was asleep waking me up with a loud popping noise. Battery [provided by cell phone manufacturer] exploded and caught fire and burnt my mattress and bedding.” She claims that the phone was not much older than a year old at the time of the incident. This report is not the sole report of such an occurrence. Other reported incidents include:
- A South Korean man suffered burns when a spare battery for his popular smartphone device allegedly caught fire while in his pocket. It is unclear if the battery was subjected to a trauma prior to the explosion.
- A Vancouver man reported that his popular smartphone was smoking and producing sparks while charging. He says he woke to smell of burning electronics and was lucky to find the problem before the fire spread.
- A Vancouver man was killed after a laptop that was left plugged in overnight overheated, the battery entered thermal runaway, and a couch ignited. The fire spread eventually resulting in the fatal injuries.
While these problems are not typically common, there have been major recalls of these batteries in the past. In 2006, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced lithium battery recalls for Apple and Dell laptops. 1.8 million and 4 million laptop batteries were recalled by the companies, respectively.
E-Cigarette and E-Vape Device Lithium Battery Explosions
Whether you call them e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-vapes, or simply a vape these devices also present a similar fire and explosion risk. However, the nature of the e-cigarette device perhaps makes this risk even more serious. When thermal runaway and a lithium battery fire occurs in a laptop, the consequences are typically confined to one area unless the fire spreads out of control.
However, e-cigarettes are designed in such a way that the weakest part of the product is located in the rear where the battery is installed. When pressure builds-up in the battery due to failure, the pressure can become so intense that the battery and other material is launched out of the e-cig and into the air. The flaming battery and other materials can travel clear across a room. This means that ignited materials can be strewn widely or launched into the mouth and face of the user of the device.
According to information provided by the U.S. Fire Administration, an agency of FEMA, lithium battery fires in e-cigarette devices can occur when they are in use, charging, or at idle. Users can minimize the risk of sere injury including burns, loss of teeth, and the loss of one’s tongue by always using the manufacturer-provided charger with the device. Charging the device in other USB ports or with other charges may result in the battery receiving excessive current and entering thermal runaway. Users should also ensure that any electronic device with a lithium battery they purchase has appropriate safety circuits and overcharge protection features.
Injured by an Exploding Lithium Battery or a Lithium Battery Fire?
Individuals who have suffered severe burns or an amputation due to a lithium battery explosion are likely to need extensive medical treatment. In some cases severe fire and smoke damage to one’s home or apartment can also occur. If you or a loved one have suffered life-altering injuries due to a lithium battery fire or explosion, the experienced personal injury lawyers of Reiff & Bily can fight to hold the manufacturer of the potentially defective product and battery financially accountable. To schedule a free and confidential personal injury & defective product consultation, call our firm at (215) 274-0072 or contact us via the web form at the top of this page’s left-hand column.