New Jersey Electric Vehicle Accident Attorneys
The Injury Lawyers at Our Firm will fight for your rights to secure the compensation you deserve after an Electric Car Fire Accident.
It’s common to see ads for electric cars or to see them in our neighborhoods and on our highways. Maybe you are considering getting one or know someone who is. Businesses like Uber propose that 75% of their fleet will be electric by 2025. The government is in on the change as well. They are calling for increased electric car sales in the coming years. In 2024, 22% of cars sold must be electric, 52% by 2028, and 80% by 2030, completing the transition to 100% in 2035.
Countries are looking to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels while reducing toxic emissions simultaneously. Countries such as France, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Denmark, and the UK are concentrating their efforts on substituting combustion engines with electric cars and trucks, hoping that by 2030, all gas-powered vehicles will be a thing of the past.
If you have been in an accident involving an electric car, it is crucial to look beyond your physical injuries. You may be entitled to compensation for financial damages, such as missed work, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs. Our attorneys at Cohen and Riechelson have over 50 years of combined experience in handling personal injury claims and are well-equipped to help you win your case in Monroe, Edison, South Brunswick, Ewing, Mount Holly, Pennington, Princeton, and towns around Mercer County and Middlesex County, NJ. Time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation today to discuss your New Jersey car accident. Contact Cohen and Riechelson at (609) 528-2596 for a free case evaluation.
Implications of Driving and Owning Eco-Friendly Vehicles
As car makers focus on using a more significant portion of their budget for research and development of electric vehicles, many more models and brands with the latest technology attract consumers. Keeping variety and technology in mind, there are 3 kinds of ecologically friendly vehicles. The hybrid-electric car combines gas or diesel with a battery recharged internally. These cars have been available since the early 2000s and are the least expensive and most common. The plug-in hybrid has recently become more popular as the infrastructure for fully electric cars is not as widespread. This vehicle can be externally charged and used for longer trips without gas. What consumers like about this car is the ability to rely on gas when it is not possible to recharge.
All-electric vehicles are the most expensive and require more charging time. Short trips or city driving allows the driver to recharge in small increments. Longer trips require longer charging times, up to four or five hours on long trips, and while charging stations are becoming more common, careful planning is a must.
How Safe are Electric Cars?
Electric fires are unusual. Fuel-powered vehicles have fires much more often (35 times more) during the car’s life. Since 2010, researchers have studied this problem and found that electric vehicles worldwide have experienced 200 fires in the past 12 years. Research also indicated that the cars most likely to have a fire were at least 20 years old.
An example of how this type of accident can happen was seen in Richmond, Canada when a late-model Toyota sedan impacted against a late-model Audi SUV and crashed into a power line pole. The Audi, an electric car, ejected its battery back after colliding with the pole, and the battery burst into flames. The police indicated that it was the first time they had seen an electric car battery catch fire.
Batteries as the Main Cause of Electric Car Fires
Some electric cars use regular fuel, and others rely on a battery 100%. The lithium-ion batteries are some of the most potent batteries able to fit in a small space. Batteries work when they create a chemical reaction that makes electrons move from one place to another with lithium ions. Sometimes, the combination is in liquid form. The battery creates electricity, producing waste heat. Batteries get hot if you use them for extended periods.
The fire risk comes from what is known as a “thermal runway,” when the reaction inside the battery reaches a critical temperature. The battery can smoke, catch fire, or explode. Short circuits, overcharging, temperature extremes, and overcharging can all create a thermal runway. This does not mean that if a thermal runway is created, it will cause a fire, but the existence of a thermal runway is cause for concern.
Impact of Electric Car Battery Recalls
For the manufacturers, defective batteries require recalls, which cost millions of dollars. When a car is recalled, it must be brought to the dealership and repaired at no cost to the owner. In 2018, Toyota recalled more than a million hybrid vehicles. Hyundai’s Ionic 4 and 5 series have also struggled with battery issues. There have been three partial recalls in the past four years. In 2019, GM recalled its entire fleet of the Chevrolet Bolt due to concerns about a manufacturing defect in the lithium batteries that could make them spontaneously combust if the vehicle was charged above 90%. The estimated cost was more than $300 million.
Potential Effects of Faulty Electric Vehicles
Regarding consequences for the vehicle owner, recalls are time-consuming and a real inconvenience. Also, it can cause customers to feel anxious about using the car, even after it has been corrected. But the most significant consequence is the fire caused by the battery. The majority of problems arise from the fuel and electric hybrids. A fire started by some sparks from the battery can ignite the fuel and cause a dangerous fire.
For owners and drivers of electric cars, there are many dangers. Batteries can release toxic fumes if they are damaged or malfunction. As electric vehicles are more expensive than regular cars, they are also the target of car thieves. After an accident, first responders are exposed to fumes and fire when rescuing drivers and passengers. Pedestrians and bicycle riders are also at risk if an electric car suffers a mechanical malfunction and the driver loses control. Also, electric cars are very quiet and may not be heard by people around.
Injuries Linked to Electric Car Fires
The most common injuries are sprains, strains, and bruises, but a car fire can cause severe burns and even death. The problem with electric car fires is that they burn hotter and longer due to the lithium battery. A fuel-driven car can take firefighters an hour and 1,000 gallons of water to put out. An electric car fire can require up to four hours and 30,000 gallons of water. Leaking batteries can release caustic liquid and gas, injuring bystanders as well.
Who Carries the Burden of Responsibility in EV Fire Incidents
When tragedies like this occur, the buck is passed around considerably. No one wants to take responsibility for a flawed design or build that could cost their business millions of dollars in a lawsuit, a recall, or a temporary halt to all production. Depending on why the fire ignited and who knew about the possible danger, the liable parties range from engineers to manufacturers and even the people on the salesroom floor- if they knew about the problem. Responsibility could also be shared in any combination of percentages between them. For example, suppose the design engineers reported to the manufacturer that a wiring problem could cause the battery to malfunction. Still, the manufacturer is unwilling to eat the cost of a recall and sees a probable tank in sales due to consumer concerns. In that case, they will take the risk and keep it quiet.
Essential Prevention Measures with Electric Vehicles in NJ
Critical fire prevention tips include charging the car according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring that the charging station is free of water, debris, or loose wiring. If there is any doubt, another station should be used. Use only approved charging stations and monitor the battery during charging. Keep the battery clean and remove any debris immediately. Check the battery for cracks, bubbles, deformities, or any other signs of damage. If there are any anomalies or concerns, the vehicle should be taken immediately to a licensed mechanic or dealer.
Have You Been Injured in an Electric Vehicle Fire in New Jersey? Contact Cohen and Riechelson Today
As you have seen, an electric vehicle fire can have devastating effects. Batteries from electric vehicles can release toxins that can cause permanent damage to you and your passengers. Determining liability can require extensive investigation. At the law offices of Cohen and Riechelson, we have the resources to help you with your electric vehicle case.
Our hard-working personal injury attorneys will listen carefully to every detail of your case, utilizing their resources to interview witnesses, medical staff (if you were injured), and electric vehicle experts. We know each case is unique and are ready to present the facts to get you the settlement you need in Trenton, Hamilton, Woodbridge, Trenton, West Windsor, Robbinsville, Lawrence, and Hopewell.