Thermal runaway caused the explosion.
On a recent international flight from Beijing, China to Melbourne, Australia, a woman was injured by an unlikely source — her own headphones. She fell asleep while listening to music, and as she slept, her battery-powered headphones exploded. The resulting fire burned her hair, face, neck, and hands. The flight attendants quickly placed the sparking headphones into a bucket of water, which caused smoke — causing many other passengers to cough for the remainder of the flight.
The explosion was caused by a phenomenon known as thermal runaway, which is a rapid uncontrolled increase in temperature. It is an increasingly common occurrence in lithium ion batteries, caused by internal short circuits, physical damage (such as punctures), or overheating by charging for too long or leaving a battery in hot temperatures. Thermal runaway can cause serious fires or large explosions if there are multiple batteries involved.
While there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of thermal runaway, such as only using Underwriter Laboratory (UL) certified lithium ion batteries, and being careful to take proper care of electronics that contain lithium ion batteries, as consumers, we should be able to rely on the products that we purchase to not explode or catch fire when we use them. Many of these products seem to fail minimum safety standards, and their dangerous defects are causing injuries to consumers as a result.
When people are injured from dangerous or defective products, they may be able to file products liability lawsuits. These types of legal claims are based on one of three theories. First, it may be that a product has a manufacturing defect. In the case of a lithium ion battery, it could be that the battery has something wrong with the internal wiring that caused the short circuit. Second, it could be that there was a design defect. This appears to be the case for many lithium ion batteries, as they sometimes overheat and catch fire or explode if they are charged too long or are used in a way in which many batteries are used. Third, they may have inadequate warnings or instructions. This could be the case if the battery manufacturers do not warn consumers not to use their products on planes, not overcharge them, or not expose them to certain levels of heat. There are several potential entities responsible for dangerous or defective products, including the manufacturer, retailer, and distributor.
Currently, products that contain lithium ion batteries are not banned from flights. However, passengers are forbidden from carrying spare lithium ion batteries on board with them in their checked baggage. The case of the exploding headphones serves as an important reminder that just because a product is sold does not mean that it is safe — and that we should always use our common sense and good judgment when it comes to products that contain lithium ion batteries, which have been known to explode. Always be sure that any batteries you purchase have been certified by UL, and that they are physically intact and have been properly stored.
If you have been injured by a defective product, contact the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker today at 800-333-0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our experienced products liability attorneys will help you recover the money that you deserve for your injuries. We offer free initial consultations, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.