blog home Product Liability The Fire Danger of Modern Batteries

The Fire Danger of Modern Batteries

By Joseph Low on March 20, 2023

Smart phone with the back off exposing the lithium battery.

Our culture is permeated by electronic devices, and most of them use batteries. Advances in technology have improved batteries today. Many devices have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, often built directly into the device. These long-lasting batteries can be found in laptops, phones, vaping devices, cars, airplanes, and a wide variety of gadgets. While they are highly efficient for power storage, the design of these batteries make them potentially dangerous. In some cases, they can explode and start fires.

Why Do Some Batteries Explode?

Lithium batteries each contain a cathode and an anode – two different types of electrodes. They are separated by a layer of polypropylene, a thermoplastic substance. In smaller devices, this protective layer of polypropylene is also smaller, making it possible in some cases for the cathode and the anode to accidentally come into contact with each other. When this occurs, it can ignite flammable liquid inside the battery, increasing the temperature and causing pressure build-up, which ultimately causes the battery to explode, causing fires, severe burns, and other injuries. This is usually due to some type of defect in the battery.

What Types of Battery-Containing Devices Can Cause Fires?

Lithium-ion batteries have caused injuries to consumers in multiple machines and devices, including:

  • Electric cars (Tesla)
  • Electric wheelchairs
  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Cameras
  • Vaping devices
  • Hoverboards
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • GPS systems

What Are Some Examples of Devices With Exploding Lithium Batteries?

  • Lithium batteries in iPhones and Apple Watches may catch fire or explode, as stated in an article on iGeeksBlog. According to the article, a key reason is higher battery temperatures, and Apple believes that iPhones should be kept at temperatures no hotter than 113° F, while Apple Watches should be kept between 32° and 95° The article also attributes these explosions to using low-quality accessories, such as wall power converters, rather than genuine Apple products.
  • In January 2023, a Tesla car battery spontaneously burst into flames on a California freeway, as reported by NBC News. Firefighters used 6,000 gallons of water to put the fire out. The car’s battery cells continued to combust as the fire was being extinguished. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is reported to have said previously that only .01% of Teslas had caught fire, as compared with the rate of .08% for all passenger and heavy duty vehicles.
  • A few years ago, Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 after the lithium batteries in several of these android phones exploded. In September 2022, it was noted that batteries in Samsung phones, such as the Galaxy Z Fold 2, are swelling up at a disproportionately high rate, as reported on As lithium batteries age, they can produce gas that inflates battery cells.

What Types of Injuries Can Be Caused by Exploding Batteries?

When lithium batteries explode, they can cause a range of serious injuries, including severe burns, scarring and disfigurement, lacerations, and injuries to the eyes, teeth, and hands. A person injured by a device with an exploding battery may have a product liability claim for compensation against the manufacturer. Depending on the circumstances and the nature and severity of the injuries, damages in such a claim may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress

If you have been injured by an exploding battery, your best course of action is to consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. At The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV, our Long Beach defective product attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue the maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us today at (562) 901-0840 or toll-free at (888) 454-5569 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Posted in: Product Liability

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