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Tesla Battery Causing Devastating Injuries

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

A few podcasts back, we shared news about a Tesla Autopilot causing injuries. Now there is a Washington Post article dated August 4, 2021, with the headline “While they were asleep, their Teslas burned in the garage.”

According to the article, a fire inspector cited the thermal management system in one of two Tesla Model S sedans in the garage as a possible cause of the fire.

The owners of the vehicles were asleep in their home when their neighbors knocked on their front door to tell them their garage was on fire. Both Teslas and the house were destroyed in the fire.

In November 2020, a gentleman had to pull his Tesla to the side of the road after hearing what sounded like an axle falling off. Moments after pulling over and vacating his vehicle, the car ignited in flames. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into alleged battery defects.

In 2019, Business Insider reported a Tesla battery fire in Shanghai. This time a Tesla was sitting in a parking garage. The car had not suffered any impacts and was not being charged at the time. Yet, due to an overheated battery, the vehicle burst into flames.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, tweeted out in 2019 in response to all the negative press… “Over a million combustion engines (it’s right there in the name!) car fires per year $ thousands of deaths, but one Tesla car fire with no injuries gets the biggest headlines. Why the double standard? This is a real question.”

He quickly followed that tweet with another… “Reality is a Tesla, like most electric cars, is over 500% *less* likely to catch fire than combustion engine cars, which carry massive amounts of highly flammable fuel. Why is this never mentioned?”

Chris Brown of Aristides Capital responded to Musk by posting these statistics:

From 2011-2015, 325 people in the US died each year from internal combustion vehicle fires. There are 263.6 million registered vehicles in the US. That means between 2011-2015, there were on average 1.23 fire deaths per million vehicles. Of those 58% were involved in a vehicle collision. In 2016, Tesla produced 183,000 vehicles. By 2020 Tesla had 530,000 cars on the roads all over the globe. If Tesla was an average car, they would account for 1.19 fire deaths over 3 years.

What makes Tesla’s battery different? Or what really causes them to overheat and ignite? Tesla currently uses a lithium-ion battery pack that includes nickel, cobalt, and aluminum (NCA batteries). This combination gives Tesla vehicles a bit more range over competitor electric vehicles made from nickel, magnesium, and cobalt (NMC). Automakers including Audi, General Motors, and Hyundai have recalled electric vehicles over fire risks in recent years. Chevrolet last year even advised owners of their electric cars to not charge their vehicles overnight or to keep their fully charged vehicles in their garages. When a vehicle battery is overheated or one of its many cells experiences a short circuit, the energy in the battery is released. That energy can cause a fire or even an explosion.

But, as Tesla’s CEO pointed out, cars of all types catch fire. No vehicle made is 100% safe. … Well, vehicles incorporating horses don’t spontaneously catch fire. But, steam locomotives were known to explode now and then.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”