In 2015, Americans purchased over 114,000 electric cars. Electric cars are automobiles that use electric motors, often powered by a series of rechargeable batteries. Electric cars do not have internal combustion motors and therefore do not need gasoline or oil. They are also quieter and more efficient than traditional vehicles.
Electric car accidents can occur in the same manner as internal combustion vehicles. However, they may present additional safety concerns in a collision due to the electrical components. Some issues that may be of concern in an electric car accident include:
There also may be risk of electronic or computer malfunctions that result in injury or damage. However, fires, chemical exposure, and electric shock are the largest concerns.
Electric vehicles contain a rechargeable battery (or batteries). In an accident, these batteries can cause the frame of the car to become electrically charged, placing the driver or passengers in danger. This is a serious concern, especially if anyone is trapped in the vehicle. Rescue personnel may also be in danger of electric shock.
A collision may also cause damage to an electric car’s complicated battery system. This damage may result in spontaneous fires—even when a collision seemed minor. And, if a battery is damaged, it may leak corrosive and harmful chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals may cause burns and other serious injuries.
Who May be Held Liable for an Electric Car Accident or Injury?
In many ways, liability for electric car accidents is determined in the same way as a regular car accident. For instance, if one driver was driving negligently, he or she may be held liable for the injuries and property damage sustained by the other party.
However, liability may attach to additional parties. For example, an electric car injury may be traced to a product defect (especially design defects). This has been the case for some electric car fires where the engine spontaneously combusted due to battery or other defects. In these cases, the auto manufacturer may be held liable for injuries resulting from the defect.
Other defects that may be associated with electric cars include:
- Manufacturing Defects: These types of defects involve errors that happen during the assembly or construction part of the process. For instance, if the manufacturer fails to include an important seat belt part during the assembly line process, it could result in serious injuries if an accident occurs.
- Warning Defects: These types of defects involve informational statements and labels that inform the purchaser of risks involved with the product. If the electric vehicle fails to include proper safety warnings and safety risk information, it could result in legal liability for the manufacturer. An example of this is where the product manual fails to include important information regarding driving safety and safety instructions.
Motor vehicle accident and product liability laws vary from state-to-state, so make sure you understand your community’s laws and filing procedures.
Are There any Legal Remedies Available for an Electric Car Accident?
If you were injured in an accident involving an electric car, you may be entitled to compensation and damages. Depending on state law and the facts in your case, you may have multiple claims—including automobile insurance, third-party negligence, and product liability claims.
Depending on your case, you may be entitled to:
- Economic damages (which reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses, like lost wage, medical bills, and property damage),
- Non-economic damages (which pay you for your pain and suffering), and
- Punitive damages.
A calculation of damages depends on many factors, including the severity of your injuries, the presence of pre-existing injuries, and any limitations based on state damages laws. Damages awards may commonly provide the injured party with compensation for expenses including:
- Hospital bills;
- Medication and rehabilitation therapy costs;
- Loss of income;
- Loss of future earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering; and/or
- Property damage.
In cases involving manufacturer defects, remedies may also include a product recall. Product liability may also result in class action lawsuits if many consumers are affected by the defect.
In some cases, electric car accidents can be fatal. In such instances, legal action may be required to address any wrongful death legal issues. In these types of lawsuit, the damages may cover expenses such as funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and other losses.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with an Electric Car Accident Claim?
Electric car accidents can present additional dangers and potential for injury not found in internal combustion cars. These can result in serious injuries and in some cases, wrongful death claims. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need legal representation or guidance.
An attorney can guide you through the claims process, file a lawsuit, and help protect your rights. Injury laws can vary from state to state, and there may be strict filing and notice deadlines. A lawyer can ensure that you meet these deadlines and other legal requirements.