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E-Bike Battery Fires Causing Injuries and Deaths

Posted on April 22, 2024 in Products Liability

Electric bikes, or e-bikes, have swiftly grown in popularity in recent years. Though they have been hailed as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional motor vehicles, a “fun” way to get around and exercise, and a good method for avoiding congested traffic, they have recently been making headlines for a more sinister reason: exploding e-bike batteries have caused hundreds of fires and explosions in the last few years.

E-bike battery fires causing injuries

Lithium-Ion E-Bike Batteries Spark Deadly Fires

Lithium-ion batteries are not a new safety threat, nor is the danger specific only to electric bikes. These batteries have previously been the center of controversy in other devices after causing fires and explosions. Examples include e-cigarettes, electric scooters, laptops and cars. Lithium-ion batteries are known to overheat, catch on fire and explode. Now, they are making waves again due to an increasing number of e-bike battery explosions.

New York City has seen the highest number of fatal e-bike battery fires in the U.S. New York City is an epicenter for micromobility devices, with an estimated 65,000 electric bikes in the city. The lithium-ion batteries in these e-bikes caused more than 268 fires in New York City in 2023 alone, resulting in 18 deaths. This was three times the number of fatalities connected to lithium-ion batteries in 2022 (six), following zero deaths in both 2020 and 2021.

Why Are Lithium-Ion Batteries So Dangerous?

Not all electric bikes are at risk of bursting into flame or exploding. Only those with damaged, faulty or unstable lithium-ion batteries pose a threat. Conditions that can cause e-bike batteries to overheat and catch on fire include generic or aftermarket parts and chargers, low-quality manufacturing processes, overcharged batteries, damaged batteries as a result of a bicycle accident, and incorrectly stored or disposed-of batteries.

When a lithium-ion battery overheats and catches on fire, it is an aggressive and explosive type of fire that is difficult to extinguish and can spread rapidly. Unlike typical fires, lithium-ion battery fires cannot be put out with fire extinguishers. Water may also fail to prevent a battery fire from spreading. In addition, these batteries release toxic fumes when burning.

Lithium-ion batteries can enter an uncontrollable self-heating state, resulting in the release of gas and related explosions. Battery cells can quickly explode, causing the fire to spread to other batteries and devices. This can result in large fires and multiple explosions. These batteries are also known to reignite unexpectedly hours and even days after all visible fire has been extinguished.

Who Is Liable for an E-Bike Battery Fire Injury or Death?

Preventing e-bike battery fires is possible. Multiple individuals and entities are responsible for helping to prevent these tragedies. It begins with electric bike and lithium-ion battery manufacturers. Product manufacturers have a duty to ensure quality control and safety-test their devices. Manufacturers that use low-quality parts or release defective batteries could be held responsible for related injuries and deaths through product liability claims.

Another responsible party could be an entity that sells, rents, repairs or services electric bikes. E-bike shops are responsible for properly servicing and storing the bicycles in their possession. Negligence by the store owner, such as failing to adhere to e-bike safety regulations, could place liability with that party for any fires or explosions that leave victims with injuries, property damage or lost loved ones.

If you have recently been involved in a fire caused by an e-bike battery in California, contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP for a free consultation about your situation. You may be entitled to financial compensation through a claim with our Los Angeles personal injury attorney.