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Electric Vehicle Accidents: The Challenges of Heavy Cars on the Road

Electric vehicles (EVs)  have revolutionize transportation by relying on onboard batteries instead of traditional gasoline. However, there is a significant difference in weight between an EV and a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. The batteries in EVs are significantly heavier than a full gasoline tank, contributing to a higher overall weight for electric vehicles. EVs often weigh 30% more than gas-powered vehicles.

The added weight results in more time and distance required to stop, and potentially, more crash energy, which raises concerns about the vulnerability of our highways and the potential for more severe crashes. Research has shown that as vehicle weights increase, the risk of death and serious injury goes up in incidents, even if all involved vehicles are single units. When two differently weighted vehicles collide, the consequences are grave for those riding in the lighter vehicle. Indeed, just a 1,000-pound difference in curb weight between two vehicles nearly doubles the risk.

Damage is Deceiving

In conventional car accident lawsuits, the extent of harm to an automobile tends to serve as a standard measure for assessing injury severity. When you throw electric and non-electric cars into the mix, it’s a whole new can of worms. If an electric car shows little damage, an old-style vehicle might crumple, leaving its occupants much more hurt, throwing the traditional metrics for a loop.

Data from insurance agencies shows a reduction in the number of injury claims submitted by EV drivers following accidents. Although this seems to imply that EVs are safer for those within them, these figures do not consider claims for injuries made by occupants of other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, or any other individual impacted by an accident involving an EV.

Battery Fires

In addition to the weight difference, there are other risks accompanying a crash in an electric vehicle (EV). Both electric and gas-powered vehicles pose fire and explosion hazards, however EV batteries fires are different. Battery fires are statistically infrequent, yet it stays tough to extinguish even with liquid flame retardants. Because lithium-ion battery fires emit heat and pressure, the incident must be dealt with differently from traditional gasoline or diesel automotive fires.

Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci highlights in a WBAL TV 11 article, on the rapid and intense nature of these fires, describing them as having a “tremendous amount of heat and a tremendous amount of fire,” with an added explosion hazard. In particular, the lithium-ion battery poses a significant risk when it enters a state of “thermal runaway,” where a fire can propagate from cell to cell, reaching temperatures over 1,000 degrees. Baltimore County Fire Bureau Chief Tim Rostkowski emphasizes the challenge of cooling down the batteries quickly and for an extended period to prevent re-ignition, noting that water is currently the primary tool available to firefighters.

Hurt by an Electric Vehicle?

In closing, the surge in the use of electronic vehicles has spawned a plethora of important legal issues beyond the traditional mechanisms of recovery. Understanding the weight disparity, onboard battery risks, and the unique characteristics of EV accidents is crucial for developing effective legal strategies and ensuring fair outcomes for all parties involved. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, our firm remains committed to navigating these complexities and assisting those affected by electric vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one was injured or you lost someone due to a crash involving an EV, please schedule an appointment with our skilled legal team, call Curcio Law at 703-836-3366 or contact our Alexandria office online.

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