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Lithium Battery Explosions and New York State Personal Injury law

A new development in the Hudson Valley has been the newfound prevalence of throttle-based bicycles, also known as e-bikes, and electric scooters. As with any new technology that gets adopted quickly, there are often growing pains or new issues that need to be considered.

Last year, we wrote a blog post focusing on the rights of e-bike riders when it comes to personal injury crashes and accidents. We wrote that if your e-bike or scooter is speed-limited at 20 MPH, then the rider is considered a “pedestrian” under New York State Law and a “covered person” under our no-fault laws, meaning that if a car is involved in a crash with you, the driver’s insurance must pay for up to $50,000 of your medical expenses and lost wages. 

E-bikes are far more prevalent in large cities like New York. But it’s been hard not to notice a rash of stories coming out about e-bikes’ lithium-ion batteries causing explosions, fires, personal injuries and even death. In New York City alone, there have been at least 250 fires caused by e-bikes since 2021, as well as close to 200 injuries and at least six deaths. The faults and explosions seem to hit low-quality and secondhand lithium-ion batteries the most, where there isn’t as high of a quality and safety standard.

While they don’t blow up while the bike is being ridden, it does seem to happen most when the bikes are being charged indoors. The inside of a battery can exceed 1000 degrees fahrenheit, causing fires that burn very quickly, and the gases released by the batteries make fires difficult to extinguish.

Once a lithium-ion battery fire gets going, some of the injuries that victims can suffer include:

  • Significant burns
  • Respiratory damage
  • Broken bones
  • Dental and facial injury
  • Ocular damage
  • Death

Can a manufacturer be held responsible for a lithium-ion battery fire? It’s certainly possible. In addition to e-bikes, lithium-ion batteries in cell phones, laptops, e-cigarettes, wheelchairs and electric cars have been known to explode and cause injuries that require financial remedy in what is known as a product liability case. If the manufacturer of the product, of the battery itself, or the distributor, wholesaler or retailer knowingly exposed a customer to risk, then it’s possible that they could be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit to recover:

  • Lost and future wages and income 
  • Current and future medical costs and out of pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering or emotional anguish
  • Permanent scarring disfigurement or disabilities 
  • Loss of quality of life

If you’ve been injured due to a faulty lithium-ion battery, the best thing to do is to know your legal options. Give us a call at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free personal injury consultation with our experienced legal team based in Kingston, NY and Poughkeepsie, NY.