Lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in our lives today, powering up our cell phones, tablets, laptops, MP3 players, e-cigarettes, and much more. While there are millions of such batteries out there, not all have problems, but when they do, the results can be disastrous.
According to a recent report from The Atlantic, several customers have experienced problems when purchasing replacement lithium-ion batteries from Amazon.
One New York man, for example, who bought a replacement HP battery for his laptop, was sitting on his couch when he heard a gunshot-like sound. The battery in the laptop—, which was sitting next to him—had caught fire, and also set the couch on fire.
The man was later treated for first-degree and chemical burns. Both his computer and the hardwood floor were damaged.
Amazon Lithium-Ion Batteries Exploding
Trying to gain relief from Amazon for these types of damages can be near impossible. The man mentioned above contacted Amazon to alert them to the problem—which was affecting other customers, too, according to the product reviews. But Amazon reportedly would not put the victim in touch with the seller and did not offer to compensate him for his losses.
Indeed, courts have so far held that Amazon does not have to stand behind the products sold on its website. So far, the company has managed to maintain an identity as simply an advertising platform for other manufacturers and sellers skirting responsibility for many product flaws and defects that have led to property damage and serious injuries.
Though most lithium-ion batteries work well, when companies take shortcuts in the design or manufacturer, the battery can short-circuit and overheat, potentially causing an explosion and/or fire. Copycat companies produce replacement batteries quickly and cheaply, increasing the risk of overheating.
Avoid Amazon When Purchasing Replacement Batteries
About half of the items available for sale on Amazon are offered by third-party sellers. Many of these are from China. It is impossible to bring lawsuits against out-of-country manufacturers, which leaves American consumers often holding the bag when it comes to damages.
Amazon has so far reportedly proven less than helpful when it comes to trying to track down third-party sellers. In Cheatsheet.com, tech writer Jess Bollyut advises consumers not to buy batteries on Amazon, stating that cheap, third-party batteries for smartphones and laptops are not worth the savings:
“Poorly manufactured batteries can catch fire or explode, which would not only damage the device in question but could hurt you and your family or even damage your house or your car.”
He goes on to state that these batteries are likely “produced as cheaply as possible,” and that it is wiser to choose an official model when seeking replacement batteries.
Insurance companies are getting into the fight, some of them starting to sue Amazon because of the rising number of claims filed over lithium-ion-battery explosions. So far, these cases have been dismissed, but more are pending.
Amazon’s defense is that they are not the seller of these products and therefore are not responsible for damages.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.