Over the last two years, the city of Chicago has been experimenting with electric scooters as a form of public transportation. During the pilot program, which took place over four months in both 2019 and 2020, scooters were placed in various areas of the city for riders to rent via a smartphone application. Each iteration of the program saw Chicago residents take more than 640,000 rides, as the city attempted to determine if and how the scooters could be added to the local infrastructure permanently.
Of course, with any mode of transportation comes the risk of accidents and injuries, and this is definitely true with e-scooters. Careless riders can cause traffic accidents, and scooters parked haphazardly on sidewalks can lead to trip-and-fall injuries to passing pedestrians or other riders. However, there are other ways in which e-scooters can cause serious injuries, including at least one that might surprise you.
Fire Linked to E-Scooter Battery
Last month, New York City firefighters were called to a blaze on Watson Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx. According to news reports, the fire started on the fifth floor of the seven-story apartment building. Officials from the FDNY said that it took about 30 minutes to get the fire under control, but the blaze left a dozen people injured. Four of them, including a 4-year-old little boy, were critically injured. Firefighters had to use their tower ladder to get people out of the burning apartment, as well as the adjacent apartments.
Fire marshals from the FDNY determined that the fire was accidental. The cause, however, was found to be the lithium-ion battery of an electric scooter that was being stored in the living room of the apartment where the fire started. At this point, it is unclear how the scooter battery exploded or caught fire in this particular case.
Dangers of Lithium-Ion Batteries
In general, lithium batteries are considered very safe, and they can be found in a wide variety of common electric and electronic products, including power tools, laptop computers, and even your cell phone. If a lithium battery is defective or damaged, they present a serious fire and/or explosion hazard. Damage to a lithium battery can occur due to physical impacts, or it could happen gradually over time due to rough handling and “wear and tear.” Extreme temperatures can also cause damage to this kind of battery, as can overcharging.
Most commercially available electric scooters use lithium batteries as their source of power. Those who use scooters as part of a scooter sharing program like the one Chicago has been testing are not generally responsible for maintaining or even charging the scooters’ batteries. Those who own scooters, however, must take care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly use, charge, and maintain the batteries. Failure to do so could leave the person liable in the event of a fire or an explosion.
Contact an Illinois Scooter Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of accident involving an electric scooter, including a fire caused by a damaged scooter battery, it is important to work with a qualified attorney. Contact an experienced Chicago e-scooter accident lawyer at Livas Law Group, A Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwartz, to get the help you need. Call 312-804-3102 for a free consultation today.