Smartphones have become a must in modern life. We use them for everything- keeping up with people around us on socials, watching videos, finding directions, finding food – and sometimes we even use them to make calls. As technology advances, we have become more reliant on things like smartphones in our day-to-day lives.
However, some smart gizmos have advanced so rapidly that safety isn’t always the top priority as smartphone producers rush to get the latest and the greatest products on the market.
When that happens, users often pay the price. At least, was the case with the oldest offerings from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 7. The new device runs on a lithium-ion cell battery, that is a powerful mean of charging our gadgets for an extended period of time.
As these phones overheat, the batteries can do that as well – activating a chemical chain reaction that can cause a spark, fire, or even explosion. Roughly 2 million of these devices have been produced, and there have been more than 30 reported cases so far of the phones exploding or catching fire.
Yet, Samsung isn’t the only smartphone developed to have an issue with overheating lithium-ion batteries. The same issue has been seen in other products, and manufacturers are typically held accountable for such defective products according to one of three theories.
- Fabric defects like a battery that was erroneously made to allow these chemical reactions to occur;
- Design defects, like a device that can catch on fire when is overcharged;
- Improper Labels, when a device that does not warn users that leaving it plugged in for more than a set period of time could lead to a fire.
Such events are no news. And users have their rights – if they suffer personal injury as a result of a faulty or defective device, users may have the right to bring common law damages against Samsung for negligence and the injuries this causes.
U.S citizens are eligible for a personal injury claim against the manufacturer if the device causes them physical and psychological damages. Numerous cases of smartphones imploding, exploding, bursting into flames, and causing serious harm to users have plagued smartphone users for years. Yet, to be fair, not all of them are caused to be faulty hardware.
Reasons Why Smartphone Batteries Explode
Typically, these batteries are designed to withstand the wear and tear of daily use, with a few protections built in to prevent overheating, overcharging, and other unfortunate events. Yet, every now and then, we hear about events where smartphone batteries caught fire or explode, sometimes harming users and their family members in the process.
- Manufacturing Defect
A primary reason why phones explode is a defect in manufacturing. The lithium-ion battery that powers the device must be adequately tested before it’s shipped. All it takes it’s a fault in an assembly line or a wrong component to cause the battery malfunction and then explode.
This happens when the cells inside the smartphone battery reach a critical temperature (due to overcharging, external heat, damage, or poor manufacturing), leading to thermal runaway. Typically, cheaper batteries are more likely to run into a short circuit.
- Overnight Charging
The one thing all tech experts agree upon is that smartphones are smart enough that they do not allow an overload. According to experts, extra protection chips inside make sure such incidents can’t happen with a smartphone, laptop, or even a tablet. Once the battery hits 100% of its capacity, charging stops. But that’s not the case with all makes and models. When left on charging overnight, some older models can take a toll on the battery as charging it excessively can overheat the device resulting in short-circuit, and at times explosion.
- Bad Cables
If you’re using a deteriorated or a cable that isn’t from the same device, or at least “certified” in some way, it could be a problem. The cord and connectors you’re currently relying on may not be up to the specifications needed for the device. To avoid any problem, try not to skimp on buying cheap cables.
What are my options as a consumer?
For a successful common law claim for negligence against a manufacturer, an injured individual must prove the manufacturer owed them a duty of care, and this duty of care was breached. As such, if you’ve been injured, you must be able to show that the manufacturer supplied you with a product that was either defective, unsafe, or didn’t come with appropriate warnings.
In the case of Samsung, it appears that the manufacturer was aware of the faulty battery cell long before their international recall, with shipments of the device delayed because of the additional testing for quality assurance being carried out in late August 2016.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve experienced the trauma of a smartphone battery explosion, you will likely have to deal with the long-term effects of burn injuries, which may include scarring, disfiguration, and extensive hospital stays. What’s more, the damage done to a person’s property by the resulting explosion can be extensive, and lost items of sentimental worth can never be replaced.
One of the scariest parts of a smartphone battery incident is that this device which so many of us rely on on a daily basis could potentially cause severe and lasting damage. Let alone the psychological impacts of a cell phone battery explosion and fire that are difficult to overcome.
Whether it’s a phone, a laptop, or another device, you will need an experienced liability attorney to handle your case. He or she can investigate the ins and outs of your case, assign experts to prove that the product was erroneous in manufacture, labeling, or design, and negotiate a settlement or compensation.
Anyone who has sustained injuries due to a faulty device should seek legal advice immediately, as strict time limits apply to these claims in some states.