A fire broke out on January 26, 2023, at a Queens daycare. A lithium-ion battery from an e-bike sparked the fire.
The New York Fire Department reports that the number of battery fires has doubled in New York City over the years.
Are lithium-ion batteries safe?
Lithium-ion batteries are usually safe, but there are manufacturers who cut corners and produce dangerous batteries. A battery that’s been certified by Underwriters Laboratories is usually a good bet.
Certain charging practices are unsafe, too. For example, it’s not safe to charge a lithium-ion battery inside. Many in NYC do, however, because they don’t have anywhere else to charge their bikes.
Sadly, if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage, it would not usually make sense to pursue a personal injury claim, as New York’s comparative negligence laws would wipe out most of your settlement or even all of your settlement.
Finally, if your batteries are not maintained or repaired properly, they can become a fire risk. Again, pursuing a personal injury claim would be difficult if your maintenance failure caused the problem.
How New York City is Addressing the Problem
New York City has taken a few steps to address the problem. For example, Con Edison is now installing outdoor e-bike battery chargers and storage areas around certain housing developments to prevent them from having to charge their bikes indoors.
The state is also incentivizing the purchase of safe and legal devices, increasing education and outreach about safe device use, enforcing lithium-ion fire code violations, and promoting the growth of safe e-micro mobility and cycling.
The plan also includes traffic safety measures.
How to Handle Lithium Ion Batteries in E-Bikes
Here are a few tips for handling lithium-ion batteries safely.
- Keep your battery out of the heat.
- Remember, electric bikes aren’t meant to constantly use the electric assist feature. Switch to pedal power occasionally.
- Don’t always run your battery to empty.
- Store batteries at 40% power or less at a consistent, cool temperature.
- Use a manufacturer-recommended charger or cord.
- Contact the manufacturer directly if you’re having trouble with your battery or have been damaged. Many manufacturers will replace a faulty battery, no questions asked, so long as you follow the warranty procedure and don’t tamper with the battery.
- Never open your battery for any reason.
- Don’t charge your battery overnight.
- Don’t leave your electric bike unattended when charging.
- Stop using any battery that smells funny, seems to leak, or looks like it’s undergone a change in shape or color.
- Keep batteries away from flammable items.
Even though they are more expensive, it’s often best to look for a bike with a battery with an Underwriter’s Laboratories certification. Avoid off-brand or after-market replacement batteries or chargers.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Lithium Ion Battery Fire
Start by seeking medical attention! Always take care of yourself first in any accident. Take pictures and get the names and numbers of witnesses if you can.
Burn injuries are common, so don’t worry if you can’t get photographs or witness information. You won’t be alone if that’s the case, and we can gather facts after the accident.
Once you’re medically capable of doing so, it’s almost always necessary to speak to a lawyer to launch these claims. You can’t just ask the battery manufacturer for their insurance information like you can in a car wreck.
In addition, there might be more than one responsible party. The problem may lie with the manufacturer, the charging station owner, a private party who used the battery incorrectly and burned down a building, the building owner, or any combination of these individuals. It will be up to your lawyer to sort through all the potentially responsible parties and hold each one accountable.
Get Help Today
If you’ve been injured in a lithium-ion battery accident, don’t wait. Reach out to our office to schedule a free consultation today.
We have a great deal of experience with product liability cases and e-bike cases. We have the expertise you’ll need to make the most of your case.