How Teslas and Other Electric Vehicles Threaten Buildings
When electric car batteries explode or catch on fire, the danger to vehicle occupants is extreme. Those who are present in nearby buildings may also be at risk. Defects and issues with electric vehicles can lead to building fires and a risk of serious injury.
How Can Electric Vehicles Cause Building Fires?
Owners of electric vehicles park their cars in the garage, in a carport, or in another location next to the home to recharge the vehicle’s battery. Building fires have been started by electric vehicles left to charge overnight while the owners slept, as reported in an article in the Washington Post. Several factors can cause fires to start in electric vehicles, including:
- Battery failure: Most electric cars contain lithium-ion batteries. As these batteries create electricity, the reaction produces heat. Once the reaction reaches a critical point, it becomes self-perpetuating, known as the “thermal runway.” It can cause a battery to explode violently, spewing superheated gasses and ejecting solid pieces. An internal short circuit in the battery itself most often causes the thermal runaway. Other causes include high and low charges in quick succession and extremes in temperature.
- Charging station malfunction: Electric vehicle charging stations have the same risks as other electrical installations. Wiring components, as well as the experience and competence of installers, can significantly affect their safety. Malfunctions can occur when high-voltage electricity is transferred from charging stations to vehicles. Outdated or improper wiring can short circuit, arc, or overheat, increasing the risk of a fire.
A fire that starts in an electric vehicle can rapidly spread to other nearby vehicles and structures. When electric vehicles burn, the fire is much hotter than gasoline or diesel fires. Firefighters may need approximately 10,000 gallons of water to quench an electric vehicle fire – 10 times the normal amount of water.
Building Fires Caused by Electric Vehicles
According to the Washington Post article, a couple asleep in their home late at night woke to a blaring car alarm and fire consuming their home. A fire had started in one of their two electric vehicles parked in the garage and spread to the other vehicle. The fire demolished their garage, damaged their home, and destroyed the two vehicles.
In 2021, 2,840 individuals died, and 11,400 were injured in residential building fires in the U.S., as stated by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). Many apartment buildings have built-in garages underneath them. A fire that starts in an electric vehicle parked below can spread to other vehicles and occupied apartments above, causing property damage, serious injury, and death. Residential fires can cause severe burns from contact with heat or flames and inhalation injuries when a victim’s lungs are exposed to toxic chemicals or direct heat.
Who Is Liable for Building Fires Caused by Electric Vehicles?
When an electric vehicle catches on fire and causes a building fire, there may be multiple potentially liable parties, as many parties are involved in the production of electric vehicles. Responsible parties may include auto manufacturers, parts manufacturers, materials suppliers, designers, engineers, or others.
Our experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyers can thoroughly investigate the incident that led to your injuries, determine fault and liability, and secure evidence to support your claim.
The Husband & Wife Law Team is Ready to Assist You
If you have been injured in a fire involving an electric vehicle, The Husband & Wife Law Team is here to help. We have the knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate your accident, determine liability, and pursue the compensation you deserve. Our leading Phoenix attorneys, Mark and Alexis Breyer, have recently been named among the top injury lawyers in the Phoenix Valley by North Valley Magazine.
We always have time for our clients and take pride in our commitment to providing compassionate and skilled legal counsel.
Reach out to us at (602) 457-6222 to schedule a free initial case consultation.
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