April 20, 2023
Electric Bike Battery Fires: Safety Tips & Recovering Damages in New York
By Jonathan Damashek
Getting around town in a city like New York can be a hassle. There are taxis, the metro, or even personal vehicles, but another option has risen in popularity, boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic: electric bikes.
Although they have many benefits that other modes of transportation may not offer, they have drawbacks. In the last few years, there have been reports of fires caused by e-bike and e-scooter batteries. These fires are dangerous. A fire reported in early March injured several people: two of them were in critical condition. More than 200 firefighters responded to handle the call.
What happens if your property is damaged in a fire caused by an electric bike battery?
What Makes E-Bike Batteries Dangerous?
For all of their convenience, compact batteries do have some drawbacks. They use lithium-ion, which allows them to store energy while still being portable, lightweight, and powerful. These batteries are used in all manner of products, from small electronics to large electric vehicles.
These batteries can be dangerous when they aren’t being recharged as intended or if the battery wasn’t correctly manufactured.
These batteries also use highly flammable materials. If a fire starts in one battery cell, a chain reaction could send other cells flying away, so the fire can easily spread beyond the close vicinity of the battery. Fire extinguishers are not effective in stopping these fires once they begin.
What Kind of Damage Can an E-Bike Battery Do?
Because the batteries range in size, the size of the fire can differ. Any defective lithium-ion battery can cause significant damage, but it makes sense that bigger batteries can cause more significant fires.
A defective cellphone battery may be enough to start a small fire, but the larger models used in e-bikes or e-scooters will have more cells, meaning they have more potential to cause widespread reactions.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Recover for a Defective Battery?
Under New York tort law, you can collect compensation for damages caused by a defective product. There will likely be questions on who is liable for your defective product. It could be the bicycle’s owner, the manufacturer, the vendor, or the distributor at-fault for the battery fire. In an e-bike fire, you will likely have a negligence-based or strict product liability case.
Negligence-Based Product Liability
In these situations, you’ll need to show that another party failed to use reasonable care when using or making the product. For instance, if an e-bike battery fire damages your property, you might need to show that the bike’s owner didn’t take precautions while charging the bike. Because they didn’t meet the right standards, the battery caused the fire that damaged your property.
Strict Product Liability
In a strict product liability case, showing that other parties did something wrong is unnecessary, and you don’t need to prove fault. Instead, you must show that the other party was responsible for the product and that the defective product harmed you.
If a bike’s e-battery exploded because it wasn’t manufactured properly, you just need to show it was defective.
Product Liability Compensation
You might be able to recover damages if you think a defective battery has disrupted your life. Whether pursuing a negligence-based case or following a strict liability lead, you can pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the out-of-pocket expenses associated with your injuries or property loss. You could recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or reduced earning capacity.
On the other hand, non-economic damages are conceptual. These losses can be difficult to calculate, but an experienced New York personal injury lawyer will be able to help you quantify your losses. These damages can include things like the pain and suffering caused by physical injuries, the mental anguish you suffered in the incident, and reduced quality of life.
It’s important to gather documents and evidence immediately after the battery fire. You have three years to file a lawsuit for a defective product in New York. There might be some exceptions to the rule, so time is of the essence.
Some Battery Safety Tips
Even if you don’t own an electric bike, it’s essential to recognize what’s safe or unsafe when handling these batteries. You might be able to stop a fire before it starts, saving lives, property, and resources. If you understand how these fires can be prevented, you might have a lead on how to pursue compensation in the case of a fire.
- Properly dispose of the battery: lithium-ion batteries can be replaced. That’s part of their appeal. However, they shouldn’t be pitched at the first sign of trouble. It’s illegal to throw them away in the trash. Instead, you need to find the correct facility to dispose of them properly.
- Carefully charge the battery: don’t charge the battery near flammable objects. That means don’t charge it on furniture like couches or beds. Don’t charge the battery while you’re sleeping. It’s best to stay alert in case something goes wrong.
- Use the proper equipment with the battery: don’t mix and match charging cords. Use the recommended cords with the battery. Batteries can overheat if you use the wrong cord, leading to fires.
- Check the batteries’ condition: some batteries can show signs they’re defective, including swelling or odd smells. Check the battery before use.
Why do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney After an E-Bike Battery Fire?
After an electric bike battery fire injures you or damages your property, you could be unsure how to start the recovery process. A personal injury lawyer with product liability experience will be able to advise you on your options and where you can turn to recover compensation.
To prove a product was defective, you’ll need to gather evidence about the manufacturer and who owned it. Your attorney will be able to help investigate your case, calculate your total damages, and work with you to strengthen your case. It can be daunting to tackle a product liability claim alone. Turn to an experienced New York attorney for help.
Call a New York Defective Product Lawyer
Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. has decades of helping New Yorkers recover compensation after someone’s reckless or negligent behavior caused their injuries. We know there are factors outside your control, like someone else’s defective bicycle battery. When these things hurt people, their owners or manufacturers must be held accountable.
You deserve compensation after a defective bicycle battery fire disrupts your life. Get help from HKD getting the most money available. Schedule your free consultation with our online form or call (212) 490-5700.