What to Do If You Ever Get in an Auto Accident While Driving an Electric Vehicle
If you're in a car accident, the shock of the crash and the pain of any injuries you sustained can make it hard to think. That's why it's important to go over the actions you need to take when you're in an accident. This is especially true if it's not immediately clear who was at fault. If you say anything that could be interpreted as taking responsibility, it can greatly damage your case later. If you were driving an electric vehicle, there are some other important facts that you need to know. Because these vehicles are still fairly new, many people don't know exactly what to do if their auto accident involves one.
Electric Cars Can Catch Fire
One thing to keep in mind according to an accident attorney from The Barnes Firms' Rich Barnes is "you always want to keep your distance from an electric vehicle following an accident. You never know if it could start on fire to where the batteries explode and you or people nearby could get hurt." The lithium-ion batteries used in most of these vehicles can create a fire with different properties than a gas fire. In fact, standard fire extinguishers cannot be used to put out a fire from one of these batteries. Water can help reduce the flames, but it may not completely put the fire out. It can take several thousand gallons of water to fully extinguish a lithium-ion battery fire, which is much more than what's needed for a gas fire.
This means there is likely no way anyone at the scene of the accident can stop the fire once it starts. Firefighters should have the proper tools to do so, but few other people or businesses near the accident will.
Will the Fire Go Out on its Own?
Unfortunately, the chemicals in these batteries will continually fuel the fire, so it won't go out on its own that fast. In fact, there have been some reports of these fires re-igniting after professional firefighters have put them out. As long as the battery is active, there's a chance the car can catch on fire. Some electric cars have even burst into flames as they were being towed away from the scene.
This means if you or anyone else involves in the accident are close to the electric vehicle, it's very possible that you will get burned. You need to move away from the vehicle as soon as you can. Typically, medical experts recommend you do not move if you're injured and that you do not move injured people if it appears that they are seriously hurt. However, this is one of those cases where you may need to move people away from the vehicle, especially if you can already see flames.
Watch for Wires
Another difference between standard gasoline vehicles and electric vehicles is that electric vehicles have a number of wires running through the body of the car. This means if the car is severely damaged, these wires could be exposed. Touching one of them could hurt or even kill you because the voltage is so high. If you were driving the electric car, please do your best to let any rescue workers know it's electric. If they have to cut into the car to get you or one of your passengers out, they need to know to be very careful where they cut. If they cut into a wire, it could shock them. Don't assume first responders will recognize the model of your car as an electric vehicle, especially if the car has been heavily damaged.
Other Steps to Take
In addition to taking these extra precautions for your electric vehicle, you still need to take the same basic steps during any car accident. Check yourself for injuries, then check on your passengers. Get everyone out of the vehicle and to a safe location (the side of the road, nearby parking lot, etc.) as soon as you can. If someone is injured or unconscious, you will need to make a judgment call. If you believe the car's battery could catch fire, you may need to move them. Do your best to carefully do so, and if possible, wait for help.
You'll also want to make certain that you take photos of the scene and get the contact information of any witnesses. Don't wwwit fault, and don't even apologize for anything. This could be taken as an wwwission of guilt. Seek medical attention as well, even if you don't believe you're injured. All of this information will be needed if you have to go to court later.
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