Lithium Ion Battery

Can a Lithium Ion Battery Explode?

By Levin Simes
May 17, 2024
Lithium-ion batteries have seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last few decades. Despite their advantages, lithium-ion batteries can explode, resulting in life-altering injuries. 

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most common rechargeable batteries, powering devices like smartphones, laptops, and even electric vehicles. While these batteries offer a lot of energy despite their small size, they may come at a cost. Reports of these power sources bursting into flames, leading to severe injuries, have left many asking: Do lithium-ion batteries explode?

Amidst the increase in incidents of explosions involving lithium-ion batteries, attorneys are advocating for the individuals harmed by these dangerous malfunctions. Although a lithium-ion battery may catch fire for several reasons, a manufacturer could be responsible.

At Levin Simes, our team has extensive experience supporting individuals harmed by battery fires. We believe manufacturers have a duty to protect consumers by implementing strong safety measures, checking products carefully, and providing clear warnings.

Continue reading to learn more about what causes lithium-ion batteries to explode and how an attorney can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Contact us online or call (415) 426-3000 if you were harmed by a lithium-ion battery failure.

Enlisting the help of a seasoned attorney with experience in personal injury and product liability claims can increase your chance of successfully navigating a lithium-ion battery lawsuit and maximizing your compensation. 

What Are Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Breaking down the composition of a lithium-ion battery is important to answering the question: Why do lithium-ion batteries catch fire? 

Today, lithium-ion batteries play a major role in powering most technological devices. These batteries use lithium ions to create energy. The lithium ions float freely through a gel-like substance in the battery called the electrolyte, allowing for reliable and long-lasting energy.

Lithium-ion batteries can be safely recharged, unlike traditional batteries that are thrown away. Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries offer more power over a longer period, and retain their charge longer when not in use compared to conventional batteries. 

What Devices Contain Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Thanks to their high energy density, longevity, and lightweight design, lithium-ion batteries have become a staple in our daily lives. You can find lithium-ion batteries in a wide variety of consumer products, including: 

  • Cellphones
  • Power tools
  • Digital cameras
  • E-cigarettes
  • Children’s toys
  • Tablets
  • E-bikes and e-scooters
  • Electric cars
  • Smartwatches

However, the prevalence of lithium-ion batteries means that more people are at risk of falling prey to the dangerous malfunctions that lurk within these power sources.  

Under What Conditions Can a Lithium-Ion Battery Explode?

Although lithium-ion batteries are generally safe, they can explode under certain conditions. These batteries consist of several flammable materials that, when compromised, can result in a process called “thermal runaway.” 

Thermal runaway occurs when the lithium-ion battery produces heat at a rate much faster than it can get rid of it. The heat continues to rise uncontrollably until the battery either catches fire or explodes. Several incidents can trigger thermal runaway in a lithium-ion battery, such as:

  • An electrical fault, like a short circuit. 
  • Exposure to direct sunlight or high temperatures. 
  • A puncture or damage to the lithium-ion battery. 
  • Overcharging the lithium-ion battery. 
  • A manufacturing defect or design. 

Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Explode Due to Sunlight and Heat?

Exposure to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures can be detrimental to lithium-ion batteries. Although answers vary, the ideal temperature range for optimal performance of lithium-ion batteries is approximately between 50°F and 85°F.  

While low temperatures at or below 32°F can lessen the chemical reactions inside the battery and slow performance, high temperatures can have a far more damaging effect. Excessive heat can cause the battery to rupture, potentially leaking harmful chemicals and causing a fire or explosion. 

Therefore, it is vital to keep lithium-ion batteries out of direct sunlight and store them at a reasonable temperature to prevent them from catching fire. 

A Manufacturer May Be Responsible

Manufacturing defects are the most appalling reason for a lithium-ion battery explosion. While external influences can factor into these incidents, manufacturing failures can also increase the likelihood of a defective lithium-ion battery injuring consumers. Examples of manufacturing issues include: 

  • Use of cheap or poor-quality materials to produce the lithium-ion battery.
  • Production design defects. 
  • Introduction of foreign objects into the battery during working or repair. 
  • Incorrect assembly of the lithium-ion battery. 

Additionally, manufacturers must provide proper warnings and advice to the public in order to mitigate the risk of lithium-ion battery fires. For instance, manufacturers are responsible for cautioning users against overcharging or outlining best practices for safely storing and using lithium-ion batteries. 

Correctly identifying the party responsible for a lithium-ion battery incident is critical to launching a claim and pursuing the appropriate compensation. Contact Levin Simes online or call (415) 426-3000 to learn about the best course of action. 

Lithium-Ion Battery Recalls

The widespread increase in injuries and incidents related to lithium-ion batteries has prompted several recalls. 

In September 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 501,000 hoverboards due to a fire hazard. An investigation revealed that the lithium-ion batteries in the hoverboards could overheat, causing sparking, smoking, and explosions. The agency reported at least 99 incidents of injury and property damage from the hoverboards. 

Shortly after the hoverboard recall, Samsung recalled 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in July 2016, citing issues with the lithium-ion battery that caused the phones to catch fire or explode. 

Signs of a Lithium-Ion Battery Failure

Unfortunately, there are not always clear indications that a lithium-ion battery is nearing failure. However, some visible warning signs to look out for include:

  • Swelling or bulging: if your device has a lump or leakage, this could indicate the battery is compromised.
  • Hissing, cracking, or popping: if you notice your device emitting these sounds, discontinue using your device immediately. 
  • A strange odor: lithium-ion batteries tend to release toxic fumes when they fail.
  • Overheating: when the device is hot to the touch, specifically near the battery area, it may be a symptom of a failing lithium-ion battery. 
  • Decreased battery life: A malfunctioning lithium-ion battery may result in reduced battery life or irregular and inconsistent charging. 

Injuries in a Lithium-Ion Battery Explosion

Lithium-ion fires present a significant concern for public safety and can lead to catastrophic injuries. From 2019 to 2023, the fire departments in New York and San Francisco announced they responded to at least 669 lithium-ion battery fires, with New York recording a whopping 326 injuries. 

Lithium-ion batteries, commonly found in mobile devices like cellphones, vapes, and laptops, are typically used close to the face or stored near the body, making any potential explosions highly dangerous and capable of causing severe injuries, including: 

  • Eye damage
  • Facial disfigurement
  • Dental injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Neck injuries
  • Finger and hand injuries
  • Respiratory distress
  • Broken bones
  • Death

A lithium-ion battery catching fire is a shocking and traumatic ordeal. Dealing with the aftermath of these explosions can be exhausting, especially when trying to recover from your injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer can handle your claim from start to finish while you focus on your health and well-being without added stress. 

Can I Recover Compensation in a Lithium-Ion Battery Claim?

Injuries stemming from a lithium-ion battery fire are often life-changing, and, sadly, even fatal. Moreover, the financial expenses related to your treatment and recovery can be costly and overwhelming. A lawyer can help you obtain compensation for the following: 

  • Loss of future income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Decreased quality of life 
  • Permanent disability 
  • Mental and emotional anguish 
  • Property damage

The amount of compensation available varies from case to case, depending on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the situation. Also, the type of relief may differ based on the laws and jurisdiction where the lawsuit is filed. 

An experienced attorney can be invaluable in determining the fair and accurate amount of compensation you deserve. Navigating a lawsuit alone can seem intimidating, but don’t let that prevent you from seeking justice. Reach out to Levin Simes to connect with a team of accomplished attorneys who care about achieving the best possible outcome for your case. 

Contact Levin Simes for Exceptional Legal Representation

At Levin Simes, we have assembled a team of knowledgeable attorneys who, not only strive for fair compensation and favorable outcomes but also genuinely care about your well-being on a personal level. 

We have a proven track record of successfully fighting for our clients and a background in battery explosion litigation. Contact Levin Simes online or call (415) 426-3000 if you were injured due to a defective lithium-ion battery.

Related Resources

If you found this lithium-ion battery content helpful, please view the related topics below: 

Contact us if you have specific questions on the matter or if you’d like to schedule a free consultation.

Ready For Your Free Consultation?