Past Tesla Fire IncidentsWithin the last few years, there have been a number of incidents involving Tesla vehicles. Some of the most notable incidents include the following:
- In November 2016, two people died in Downtown Indianapolis after crashing their Tesla into a tree and into a parking garage shortly before the vehicle ignited.
- In May 2018, two Florida teenagers died when their Tesla caught fire after crashing into a wall.
- In December 2018, a New Hampshire woman died after her Tesla ignited after a crash.
- In December 2018, a Tesla vehicle ignited while in the shop for a flat tire; the vehicle ignited a second time just a few hours later. No injuries were reported.
- In March 2019, a Florida man died after his Tesla crashed into a tree and burst into flames.
- In April 2019, a Tesla vehicle burst into flames while parked in a parking garage; no one was injured.
Insight into the Reason Tesla Vehicles BurnTo understand why many parties consider Tesla vehicles to be dangerous – specifically, fiery death traps – it is important to understand how the fires start. First, and most importantly, it is necessary to understand that these vehicles have lithium batteries. The most common and straightforward reason for lithium batteries to result in fires is battery trauma. In crashes, the lithium battery could sustain damage – the trauma to the battery can immediately result in flames. Tesla batteries are comprised of thousands of cells. When a battery is damaged, the battery can go into thermal runaway (when temperature in a battery cell quickly increases triggering an increase in temperature in other cells); in general, thermal runaway is described as a temperature change that changes other conditions resulting in further increases in temperature. Cellular propagation occurs when the battery cells are triggering further changes (in this case temperature changes). In many cases, cellular propagation can stop itself inside the lithium battery – think of how removing just one domino can end a falling row of dominoes. When it doesn’t stop itself, however, the battery can become engulfed in flames – a fiery outcome is considered spontaneous combustion. According to experts, just one defective battery cell can trigger thermal runaway. Although defective battery cells can result from battery trauma after a collision, it is also possible for batteries to become defective during manufacturing. There has been at least two incidents in which Tesla’s batteries have been compromised. Most recently, the following two incidents have affected batteries:
- There was an oil spill on a side of a Tesla Gigafactory. The oil spill resulted in mechanical oil getting into one of the machines used to create the batteries used in Tesla’s vehicles. Because the machine was exposed to oil, all products that touched by the machine were contaminated.
- Metal tools are known to fall into the mixers used to churn the chemicals used for the batteries. These tools are eventually destroyed into nothing but shrapnel due to the force of the churning. Any shrapnel in the lithium battery could quickly result in a fire.
Tesla Features Make First-Responders StruggleAlthough firefighters have the knowledge necessary to put out car fires, past incidents have revealed that Tesla fires are not the same as any other car fires. Tesla autos have lithium-ion batteries. The fires originate from these batteries; however, they cannot be fought like the average car fire. Foam and dry chemicals usually used to fight car fires are inefficient for these fires. Instead, these fires must be fought with anything from 500 to 8,000 gallons of water, time, and patience. Even after the fire is out, it can reignite hours later – this is common of battery fires. In one incident in particular (mentioned above), the auto ignited at approximately 2 p.m. while at a repair shop. This specific fire required 2,000 gallons of water before it was finally out. However, approximately eight hours later at about 10 p.m., the vehicle reignited in the repair shop. Because the battery was so damaged after the fires, the authorities were unable to determine a clear cause of the two fires. It seems to be common for vehicles with battery fires to reignite relatively soon after the first fire. In fact, experts on electric vehicles recommend that any vehicles that have had a battery fire are kept at least 50 feet from any buildings or object for at least a few days – until the danger of a subsequent fire decreases.
Learn more about your legal options by chatting with a representative now.In at least one of the incidents previously mentioned, first-responders were unable to quickly access the victim due the vehicle’s retractable door handles. The door handles are retractable allegedly for the purpose of increasing aero-efficiency. It is also likely door handles are simply a stylistic choice. Regardless, this feature prevented first-responders from getting to the victim as quickly as possible.
Is Tesla Liable for the Harm Suffered due to Fires?Although the reasons that Tesla vehicles end up in violent fires in unclear, there is a significant possibility that a defect in Tesla batteries increase the chance of autos erupting in flames. Because of this, it is possible that Tesla be liable for all harm suffered as a result of the fires in their vehicles. Why could Tesla be liable? All companies owe their consumers a specific duty of care. In other words, they must do everything within their reach to ensure that their products are completely safe for use prior to making them available for the public. Companies must inspect their products, subject them to rigorous tests, and do everything within their reach to ensure that their products are as safe as possible. When companies fail to exercise their duty of care towards their consumers, they are breaching their duty of care; this can cause incidents which can result in significant harm. If victims and their families could prove that Tesla breached their duty of care and negligently contributed to the harm caused by the fire in their vehicles, the company will likely be liable and claims could reach successful outcomes. If you would like to learn more about Tesla potentially being liable for the harm that you and your family suffered, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with our experts as soon as possible.
The Possibility of Pursuing a ClaimDo you have the right to file a claim? Given that the fire that engulfed the Tesla was caused by the company’s negligence, victims and their families will likely have grounds to take legal action against the company. What type of claim could you file? The answer to this question depends on the specific details of your claim. For instance, if the car was engulfed in flames and a party was harmed due to a defect, claimants could pursue product liability claims. On the contrary, if the fire resulted in the death of a party, surviving family members will likely be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. In addition to these two options, there is also a possibility of participating in a class action lawsuit depending on the circumstances. If you would like to learn more about your right to pursue a claim or about the specific type of claim that you could pursue, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at our law firm as soon as possible.
The Right to Receive CompensationIf you or a member of your family suffered harm due to the negligence of Tesla, you will likely have grounds to sue. Depending on the details of the claim, you might even be eligible to recover compensation.
Find out more about how we can help you. CHAT LIVE with a representative now.The categories of compensation that you might be eligible to receive are as follows:
- Medical expenses – compensation for all the expenses associated with medical care the victim received, including any care administered before the victim’s death.
- Lost earnings – compensation for all the wages that were lost as a direct result of the harm the victim suffered, including projected wages.
- Property damage – compensation for all the property that was damaged as a direct result of the fire.
- Pain and suffering – compensation for the mental and emotional distress suffered as a direct result of the incident.
- Funeral and burial expenses – compensation awarded for the costs associated with death services.
- Loss of consortium – compensation for the lost ability to have a normal, loving relationship with the victim.
- Punitive damages – compensation awarded to the claimant as punishment to the liable party.