Electric Car Accident Battery Explosion and Fire Lawsuit (2022)

Electric Car Battery Explosions and Fires

This article serves to update readers with recent deaths tied to electric vehicles due to battery explosion and door handle failure, primarily Tesla. Lithium ion batteries are still a relatively new phenomenon within the automotive industry.

Researchers are still compiling information on their long-term safety. Though Tesla has gained notoriety in recent years, there are many other automotive companies that have been making electric vehicles with similar lithium ion technologies.

It’s a high priority to understand the potential danger of electric cars in order to keep you and your family safe. If you or someone you love has been injured due to a battery explosion from an electric car, you should contact the lawyers at Johnson // Becker for a Free Case Evaluation.

Tesla Door Handles

In all of the praise Tesla has received, from its electric motor to advanced touch screen system, the door handles are a dangerous dud.

By now, many people are familiar with the luxury electric cars that look strikingly different from nearly everything on the market. From sleek lines that make it aerodynamic, to its battery-operated silence, Tesla vehicles really stand out from the average gas-guzzler.

The Model S Tesla has door handles that are flush to the body of the car when not in use. This is part of the vehicles modern and sleek appeal. They work by “presenting” themselves (or popping out) when needed, such as unlocking the vehicle.

For safety reasons, the door handles are supposed to pop out when the airbags are deployed. This was a keen level of safety-consciousness Tesla thought it put into its car. The company event went so far as to create a guide for first responders that may arrive at the scene of a Tesla-involved accident and how to work with the flush door handles.

(Video) Why Tesla, GM And Other EV Companies Have A Fire Problem

However, if the handles don’t deploy in a crash, one can only imagine the terror of being unable to get out or being rescued from their vehicle.

Tesla Door Handle Death

In February 2019 a Tesla owner died after crashing his vehicle and first-responders were unable to get him out due to the failed door handles.

Omar Awan, a 48-year-old anesthesiologist of Florida, crashed his Model S into a tree in South Florida. A police officer nearby responded to the scene but was unable to get inside the car to rescue Awan. The door handles, as previously mentioned, were designed to protrude in the event of an emergency, known as “auto present” but in this case, they failed to do so.

Subsequently, the car’s lithium ion battery caught fire and Awan ended up dying of smoke inhalation. The car was described as being completely engulfed in flames. First responders were helpless to assist. Awan’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla in Broward County, citing the Model S handles are defective and the potential fire risk had not been properly addressed.

Officially, the autopsy report obtained by The Washington Post, ruled Awan’s official cause of death was due to “inhalation of products combustion with a contributory cause of death of thermal injuries.”

The lawsuit claims Awan was still alive when he hit the tree as “he had no internal injuries or broken bones. He died from the smoke he inhaled as he sat locked inside the Tesla, despite that a police officer and others were there and ready to help, until flames forced them away.”

Tesla Owners Were Already Concerned

Tesla may have been warned of the potential risk of death or serious injury due to defective door handles on the Model S. On October 16, 2017, a user on the official Tesla forum page posted about the potential dangers of door handles that are unable to operate, a warning to other drivers.

(Video) EV fires are tough to fight and pose new hazards. Inside the race to get responders ready.

“I believe door handles on a Model S are a safety issue and horrible manufacturing defect on the Tesla part,” the user said. “If you get into the accident and first responders can’t open the door to pull you out… just use your imagination Tesla, do you really want someone to get hurt because of a microswitch and bad wire placement ? Please issue a replacement program for original wire harness door handles. You can afford to do it now, not when Model 3 rolls out. Please appreciate your loyal customers who just want to get into their Teslas :)” gornikmarcin

Another user, Farhad Orakzai tweeted and wrote to Elon Musk, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc. “this is the third time my door handle has died, and now I can’t even get into my car from the driver door. Who knows how long I’ll have to wait to get an appointment to fix it. Have to literally climb into the car from another door to drive now. Please help Elon.”

He later wrote a longer piece on Reddit about the entire situation:

“This is getting really annoying… the first time my door handle broke was the passenger one about 6 months ago, it would not present when i unlocked the car, and Tesla fixed it after about a week. the second time a door handle died was just a month and a half ago. The driver side rear door handle failed to present itself when i unlocked the car, but it was no big deal because i don’t really use it. i called Tesla and they came out to fix it after a few days. now when i tried to unlock my car at the grocery store, the driver door handle would not present… i had to literally climb into the car from the passenger door..”

Tesla Lithium Ion Battery Explodes in Teen Crash

Another horrific accident in Florida involved two teenagers who burned to death in a 2014 Model S on May 8, 2018.

Barret Riley was driving the vehicle at dangerous speeds in Aventura, Florida neighborhood. Edgar Monserratt Martinez was the front-seat passenger, while Alexander Berry was the backseat passenger.

The car was estimated to have been going around 116 mph when it lost control around a curve and hit a concrete wall. When the car hit the wall, the battery erupted into horrific flames.Berry was ejected from the vehicle and survived the preliminary stages of the crash.

(Video) Hyundai Motor sued over EV battery fires

Larry Groshart recounts the horror of being a witness to the crash, “The fire was big enough that I couldn’t really tell [where it began],” he said. “The flames followed the car as it crossed the lanes. It was an unusual-looking flame because there was no smoke. Just big, red orange flames.”

Onlookers and passerby’s were probably in shock. “They couldn’t get closer than about 10 feet,” Groshart said. “One was standing in the middle of the street screaming an obscenity over and over and over, because he was so frustrated.”

The National Transportation Safety Board estimates the airbags deployed at 85 mph, and the car hit 108 mph only two seconds before the crash. The parents of Martinez filed a Tesla lawsuit that accuses the car manufacturer of negligence and liability in their son’s death.

James Riley, the father of Barret Riley, has filed a lawsuit accusing the lithium ion battery of causing his son’s unfortunate death. The lawsuit alleges the teens themselves were not killed by the crash, but by the fire caused by the battery.

Electric Car Accident Battery Explosion

All of the electric cars on the market are operating with lithium ion batteries. According to researchers at Temple University, the strong impact of fire and explosion due to a lithium ion battery is known as “thermal runaway.” This is when batteries catch fire following a temperature spike in the event of say, a car accident.

The lawsuit originating from Awan’s family, and what the users online were getting at, is the lithium ion batteries are a death trap in the event of a serious car accident.

Regarding the defective door handles: “Tesla failed to give any appropriate, adequate, full or fair warnings about the risks relating to the door handles or the smoke and fire,” the Awan lawsuit goes on to state.

(Video) Firefighters Not Prepared To Deal With Electric Vehicle Blazes

The fire damage was so severe from the lithium ion battery in both Awan and the teenagers’ car accident, that after extinguishing the fire, the towed vehicles reignited and burned.

Do you have an electric car battery explosion?

If you or someone you love has been injured, or you have suffered the unfortunate loss of someone you love from a Tesla, you should speak to an electric car battery explosion lawyer. Financial compensation may be available to you by filing a lawsuit. We offer a Free Case Evaluation and would be honored to speak to you.

Electric Car Accident Battery Explosion and Fire Lawsuit (1) To contact us for a free review of your potential case, please fill out the form below or call us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing: (800) 279-6386.

FAQs

What happens if an electric car sets on fire? ›

Although these fires remain rare, when they do occur, they can be extremely dangerous. During an electric vehicle fire, over 100 organic chemicals are generated, including some incredibly toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide – both of which are fatal to humans.

What happens to EV batteries in a crash? ›

Lithium batteries can become dangerous if damaged. Despite their green image, lithium batteries can turn pretty nasty if damaged. In electric vehicles, they are surrounded by coolant. If that leaks out, the batteries can heat up and catch fire.

Can an electric car battery explode? ›

What is the risk of electric car explosion? As a reminder, EV fires overall are very rare, but EV vapour cloud explosions (VCE) are even less likely, involved in just 10.77% of all EV battery fire incidents since 2010.

Why do electric car batteries catch fire? ›

If one cell overheats, it can enter a process called thermal runaway — basically, a positive feedback loop where it keeps making itself hotter very quickly — and ignite the neighboring cells in the battery pack until the whole thing goes up.

How many EV cars have caught fire? ›

Electric Car Fire Statistics VS Gas & Hybrid
TypeFires (per 100K vehicle)Total Fire
1. Hybrid3474.516,051
2.Gas1529.9199,533
3.Electric25.152
8 Aug 2022

How many Tesla cars have caught on fire? ›

There have been several hundred fires confirmed from Tesla cars, as many as 300 estimated so far. That's incredible in itself. Allegedly the Ford Pinto had a tiny fraction of that number yet caused international outrage. More to the point, there are now 32 recorded fatalities from Tesla fires.

What happens when an electric car gets in an accident? ›

Electric vehicle battery packs are made of hundreds to thousands of battery cells, each of which contains a flammable liquid electrolyte. This high energy density makes lithium-ion batteries a perfect power source for electric cars, but it also gives them a higher risk of fire and explosion in a crash.

What happens to Tesla batteries in a crash? ›

If the battery or battery compartment of an electric vehicle is damaged, it can explode, if wet, or catch fire, which creates a hazardous gas.

How do you extinguish EV fires? ›

U.S. authorities have conducted a substantial amount of research on how to extinguish lithium-ion batteries. A report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation found that water can be used to put out a burning lithium-ion battery, although it requires copious amounts to complete the task.

Do electric cars catch fire more than gas cars? ›

Electric automobiles catch fire less frequently than gasoline-powered cars, but the duration and intensity of the fires can make them considerably more difficult to put out due to the use of lithium-ion battery packs.

What is the biggest problem with electric cars? ›

EV owners have experienced chronic problems with the display screens, exterior door lights, failing temperature sensors, mismatched paint, and seals and weatherstripping. It's not just that these problems occur, but that they occur at a higher rate than with conventional vehicles.

How likely is an electric car to catch fire? ›

It found that hybrid vehicles, which have an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, had the most fires per 100,000 vehicles (3475), while vehicles with just an internal combustion engine placed second (1530 per 100,000). Fully electric vehicles had the fewest: 25 per 100,000.

Do electric cars catch fire in a crash? ›

Research by another firm, AutoinsuranceEZ, says battery electric vehicles have just a . 03% chance of igniting, compared to internal combustion engine vehicle's 1.5% chance.

How hot is electric car fire? ›

"What we have seen in early testing and early reports is that an electric vehicle battery fire flame can burg up to 2,700 degrees Celsius," Sutcliffe said. In U.S. terms, that's nearly 4,900 degrees Fahrenheit. FEMA says in traditional vehicles, fire burns around 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Are electric cars safer in a crash? ›

“A look at the accident statistics of AXA Switzerland shows that drivers of electric cars cause 50 percent more collisions with damage to their own vehicles than those of conventional combustion engines,” the insurance giant said in a German-language statement titled, ominously, “AXA Crash Tests 2022 — More collisions ...

How often do lithium batteries catch fire? ›

But in reality, lithium battery fires are rare. According to the tech reporting site CNET, your odds of a lithium battery fire are about 1 in 10 million.

Do EVs catch fire more than ice? ›

“Our latest research indicates that the risk of a fire for all types of EV remains less likely than for ICE vehicles.

How many gallons of water does it take to put out an electric car fire? ›

Tesla fire takes more than 4,500 gallons of water to extinguish, crews say. SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Gray News) - Firefighters in California had to think outside the box earlier this month when battling a Tesla that caught fire.

How long does it take to put out a Tesla car fire? ›

It can take as long as 24 hours to put out, according to a guide for first responders for the Tesla Model S.

How long do Tesla batteries last? ›

According to Elon Musk, Tesla batteries last between 300,000 to 500,000 miles. The average person drives 273 miles a week, so you can expect your Tesla battery to last anywhere from 21 to 35 years, depending on your driving habits. Point being, Tesla batteries will rarely (if ever) need to be replaced.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car? ›

If electricity costs ¢10.7 per kWh and the vehicle consumes 27 kWh to travel 100 miles, the cost per mile is about $0.03. If electricity costs ¢10.7 per kilowatt-hour, charging an EV with a 200-mile range (assuming a fully depleted 54 kWh battery) will cost about $6 to reach a full charge.

Does an EV have a 12 volt battery? ›

Yes, It Does Have a 12 Volt Battery

“That separation allows us to safely disconnect the high voltage from the low voltage when the vehicle is not being driven or in the event of a crash.” This sums it up pretty well. Many subsystems within the EV electrical system utilize low voltage power to run them.

How many batteries are in an electric car? ›

Electric cars have two batteries each with their own specific function. Like traditionally fuelled cars EVs have a lead-acid 12-volt battery which helps to turn the vehicle on as well as power some of the electrical systems and accessories in the vehicle.

How many airbags does a Tesla Model 3 have? ›

Model 3 has a passenger front airbag that is always ON. Children must ride in the rear seats only. The Passenger Airbag On indicator displays in the top corner of the touchscreen to indicate that the passenger front airbag may inflate if a collision occurs. The front passenger seat has an airbag that is always ON.

How Long Will electric car batteries last? ›

“Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.” It's also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries' lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

Will water put out a lithium battery fire? ›

Why it works better than powder, water or foam. Traditional fire extinguishers, such as foam and water, don't work on lithium battery fires. The only way to extinguish a lithium battery fire is to flood the battery with water.

Do hybrid batteries catch fire? ›

It found battery electric vehicles have a 0.03% chance of catching fire, compared to the internal combustion engine of a gas car, which has a 1.05% chance of igniting. It found hybrid vehicles actually have the most fires per 100,000 sales.

What car catches on fire the most? ›

Turns out, hybrids lead the way when it comes to the risk of catching fire — electrics are least at risk.

What happens when a lithium-ion battery catches fire? ›

During thermal runaway of battery, a reaction can occur, which vaporizes the organic electrolyte and pressurizes the cell casing. If, or when, the case fails, the flammable and toxic gases within the cell are released. Once a thermal runaway starts, the process cannot be stopped, even by unplugging the battery.

Why electric cars will never take over? ›

Consumers can't service or repair their EVs

EVs need regular maintenance, maybe not as much as gasoline-powered vehicles, but they also need maintenance and repairs. You can't perform this maintenance in your driveway because of the technology involved, which means taking your EV to the shop every time.

What year will all cars be electric? ›

Every new passenger car sold in the world will be electric by 2040, says Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods. Even Exxon Mobil thinks electric vehicles are the future. The oil giant is predicting that by 2040, every new passenger car sold in the world will be electric, CEO Darren Woods told CNBC's David Faber in an interview.

How long does it take an electric car to pay for itself? ›

EVs are a great way to ensure fuel savings. While an EV can promise great savings, it is not guaranteed that an EV will ever fully pay for itself. If your vehicle were to eventually cover its own costs, it could take approximately 10 years for your car to finally break even in fuel savings.

Why do Tesla cars catch fire? ›

Teslas have lithium-ion batteries that can present fire and explosion hazards when damaged, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "Even with direct penetration, the vehicle would still re-ignite due to the residual heat," the post said.

How common are Tesla fires? ›

2021. From 2012 – 2021, there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 210 million miles traveled. By comparison, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation shows that in the United States there is a vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled.

Why do some cars catch on fire after a crash? ›

The extensive wiring in modern vehicles may be damaged in an accident. A severe collision can sever cables and cause sparks that can ignite fuel. Faulty wiring in ignition systems may short and spark fires.

How are batteries for electric cars disposed of? ›

The recycling process typically involves shredding batteries, then breaking them down further with heat or chemicals at dedicated facilities. That part is relatively simple. The harder part is getting dead batteries to those facilities from wherever they met their demise.

Can Jaws of Life be used on electric cars? ›

For those reasons, an EV or hybrid vehicle must be stored and monitored differently after an accident. In addition, the L-Ion battery must be completely disconnected before responders can use the Jaws of Life; however, most newly released models have an automatic shutdown feature in the case of crash.

Are electric cars safe? ›

“Electric vehicle batteries are mounted on electric vehicles after passing severe safety verification tests such as crash test, watertight test, immersion test, and combustion test, and deemed safe thanks to its design, which protects the battery from physical shock.”

Are electric cars safe from fire? ›

AutoinsuranceEZ analyzed data from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and Recalls.gov. It found battery electric vehicles have a 0.03% chance of catching fire, compared to the internal combustion engine of a gas car, which has a 1.05% chance of igniting.

How do you put out a EV fire? ›

Once a battery cell fails, it is impossible to extinguish the failed cell as the chemical reaction inside the cell happens far too quickly. The only way to stop a thermal runaway is by directly cooling the cells involved to ensure that the failed cell does not cause the cells around it to also fail.

Are electric cars more prone to fire? ›

Myth: EVs are more prone to catch fire and more dangerous than gas cars. Myth Busted: Just as it's true that your gas car can catch fire, it is true that an electric vehicle (EV) can catch fire. However, EVs are some of the top-rated cars for safety and are less likely to catch fire compared to gas cars.

How common are EV fires? ›

It's unlikely that your EV battery will be involved in fire, with far less chance of it occurring than with traditionally fuelled vehicles. Our research found there's a 0.0012% chance your passenger electric vehicle battery will catch fire, which is a much smaller risk than we expected to find.

How do you extinguish a Tesla fire? ›

Electric vehicle fires can be extinguished with water.

Are electric cars safer than gas cars? ›

In all, NHTSA concluded that the likelihood of passenger injuries in crashes involving electric vehicles is actually slightly lower, meaning that they are safer to passengers, than those involving vehicles with gasoline and diesel engines.

How many gallons of water does it take to put out an electric car fire? ›

Tesla fire takes more than 4,500 gallons of water to extinguish, crews say. SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Gray News) - Firefighters in California had to think outside the box earlier this month when battling a Tesla that caught fire.

How many gallons of water does it take to put out a car fire? ›

“Normally a car fire you can put out with 500 to 1,000 gallons of water,” Austin Fire Department Division Chief Thayer Smith said, according The Independent.

How do you fight a lithium battery fire? ›

Traditional fire extinguishers, such as foam and water, don't work on lithium battery fires. The only way to extinguish a lithium battery fire is to flood the battery with water. A Lithium Fire Blanket will safely isolate a lithium fire battery for hours, until it can be flooded and extinguished.

Which car catches fire the most? ›

It found that hybrid vehicles, which have an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, had the most fires per 100,000 vehicles (3475), while vehicles with just an internal combustion engine placed second (1530 per 100,000). Fully electric vehicles had the fewest: 25 per 100,000.

How long do electric car batteries last? ›

“Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.” It's also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries' lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

How often do lithium batteries catch fire? ›

But in reality, lithium battery fires are rare. According to the tech reporting site CNET, your odds of a lithium battery fire are about 1 in 10 million.

Can a car battery catch fire while charging? ›

The unfortunate answer to this question is yes. In the past, EVs have definitely caught on fire while charging. In fact, in the summer of 2021, Chevrolet recalled over 60,000 of the Bolt EVs for this exact problem.

Are EVs safer than ice cars? ›

Another reason why EVs are safer is due to sturdier upfront construction. They do not have a front-mounted engine like conventional cars do. EVs typically transmit crash energy toward the back of the vehicle since there's no ICE in the front of the car. Their batteries will deform and absorb energy during a crash.

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