Fires from Lithium Batteries Spur New E-Bike Rules

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has signed several new e-bike battery bills into law banning the sale of uncertified bikes and unregulated lithium-ion batteries. According to an ABC news report, these laws come in the wake of a series of fires, explosions and deaths due to the lithium-ion batteries. New York City saw 219 fires related to these batteries just in 2022, causing 147 injuries and six deaths. So far in 2023 alone, 33 fires, 42 injuries and three deaths have been reported.

One of those deaths happened on March 18 when a man was killed in an apartment fire in the Bronx that was caused by a lithium-ion battery. The fire erupted in an apartment building in the 2200 block of Olinville Avenue in the Allerton section. Investigators determined that a lithium-ion battery accidentally caused the fire. On March 6, a five-alarm fire tore through a Bronx supermarket, triggered by a faulty lithium-ion battery.

What the New Legislation Does

The new legislation ensures that any micro-mobility device meets standards set by UL solutions, an industry leader in battery technology. Other measures include prohibiting the resale of bikes or batteries, changes in New York City Fire Department’s reporting standards and restricting the reconditioning of used batteries. Poorly made batteries have had a catastrophic effect on residential buildings, not only igniting fires, but also potentially causing structural damage due to their explosive nature.

Such fires tend to spread quickly causing more damage, injuries and loss of life. It is not clear how this new legislation will apply to the 65,000 e-bikes purchased prior to the laws taking effect in New York. E-bikes surged in popularity during the pandemic. More than 65,000 app-based delivery workers depend on these devices to meet their tough schedules.

Unique Dangers

About 1 million micro-mobility devices were sold in the U.S. in 2022 compared to 288,000 in 2019. At least 19 people died in the U.S. in 2022 because of fires stemming from these devices. While a framework governing e-bikes safety already exists, lawmakers have been slow to respond to the quick growth of micro-mobility devices.

That delay has proved deadly in New York City where multi-story apartments are the norm. The quick-spreading battery fires have had catastrophic consequences for not just those owning or using the batteries or devices powered by the batteries, but also their neighbors and others residing in the buildings. Another feature of these battery-ignited fires is that they can re-ignite putting firefighters in danger as they attempt to put them out.

Landlords’ (Building Owners’) Responsibilities

New York City laws require property owners and/or property managers to maintain spaces that are safe for tenants, visitors and guests. Property owners/managers maybe required to provide, install and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in each unit. The devices should also be maintained and remain in good working order.

When a fire or accident at a building is caused by negligence (carelessness) or a lack of property maintenance, the property owners and/or property managers may be held liable for the injuries and loss of life that occurs. Injured victims or families of deceased victims can file a premises liability claim against the responsible parties including, but not limited to, the property owner, property manager, maintenance/repair company, etc.

Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income and benefits, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families that have lost loved ones can seek compensation as well by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Protecting Your Rights

Whether you have been living as a tenant at a private apartment complex or in a public housing unit (NYCHA) (the Projects), please remember that you have legal rights. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of dangerous conditions, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys with the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. For over 51 years, our skilled attorneys have established a proven track record of assisting injured victims. One of our clients — a hot water burn victim — secured $750,000 in damages from the property owner and manager.

Our firm also obtained a $985,000 settlement out of a $1 million policy for two people who suffered smoke inhalation injuries because the homeowner did not have smoke detectors installed and the $15,000 that was left on the insurance policy was for a person that we did not represent. Another of our clients recovered $2,500,000 due to a faulty space heater. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury, lead poisoning and medical malpractice cases including, brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) and cerebral palsy cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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