Lithium-ion batteries provide many conveniences to consumers. They are used widely for portable devices because they are lightweight and do not require frequent re-charging. In many devices, lithium-ion batteries are already installed in the devices themselves. However, lithium-ion batteries pose risks to users since they are composed of highly flammable parts. When the energy released in the battery encounters a malfunction, the battery can explode and cause serious injury or death to the user.
Dangers of Lithium-Ion Battery Use
Several popular devices use lithium-ion batteries including headphones, e-cigarettes, cell phones, laptops, and hoverboards. Malfunctioning batteries can cause significant injury to the face and body. One consumer of e-cigarettes was killed when the battery exploded and the cigarette damaged his skull and brain. One man’s laptop exploded on his lap, causing him to sustain first degree and chemical burns on his body. Airlines have banned hoverboards on flights, and the U.S. Postal Service has ceased shipping packages containing hoverboards due to the risk of battery explosion. In 2016, Samsung made headlines when its Galaxy 7 smartphones were recalled due to a manufacturing defect in the batteries that generated excessive heat and caused explosions.
Why are Lithium Batteries Prone to Explosion?
Reports of exploding lithium-ion batteries have circulated for years even though lithium batteries have been available on the market for over three decades. Lithium-ion batteries contain flammable components and use a significant amount of energy in a small package. The cathode and anode components are divided by a thin polyethylene separator. When the separator is ruptured, a short circuit triggers a process called thermal runaway, which is a major cause of fires in devices that use these batteries. As the chemicals inside the battery continue to heat, the battery can rise to temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The battery can then explode when exposed to oxygen.
Lawsuits Against Manufacturers of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Since the early 2000s, there have been several warnings and recalls associated with exploding lithium-ion batteries. When a lithium-ion battery explodes, it can cause serious property damage, such as fires. A battery that overheats and explodes can result in significant bodily injury, including burns, pain, scarring, hearing and vision loss, disability, and even death. The manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries and those companies that use the batteries in their devices have a responsibility to consumers to provide them with a safe product. A manufacturer’s negligence may contribute to the injuries caused by devices with exploding batteries. In some cases, the manufacturer does not warn the consumer about the presence of a lithium-ion battery and the dangers associated with its use. In other cases, the lithium-ion battery is poorly designed and more susceptible to explosion. Experts have warned that the drive to pack more power into ever-shrinking batteries in cost-effective ways is bound to have poor outcomes.
Levy Konigsberg is a leading national law firm dedicated to protecting the legal rights of its clients. LK has won large settlements and precedent-setting verdicts in a variety of matters. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a lithium-ion battery explosion, please call us at 1-800-988-8005 or submit an email inquiry above to schedule a free and confidential consultation.