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Why North Carolina Electric Vehicle Accidents Could Be More Serious Than You Think

April 21, 2024

At Dewey, Ramsay & Hunt, P.A., our Charlotte car accident and injury attorneys understand that electric vehicles (EV) offer a compelling solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and enhance energy security in North Carolina and nationwide.

However, batteries and the frames required to secure them increase the vehicle’s weight.  The head of the National Transportation Safety Board expressed concern about the safety risks that heavy electric vehicles pose if they collide with lighter vehicles, stating, “The weight disparity can lead to devastating outcomes.”

Electric Vehicle Accidents

The National Bureau of Economic Research has shown that as vehicle weights increase, the risk of death and severe injury increases in accidents, even if all involved vehicles are single units. When two differently weighted cars collide, the consequences are grave for those riding in the lighter vehicle. The research concluded that being hit by a car with an added 1,000 pounds increases by 47% the probability of being killed in a crash.

Unfortunately, in a speech to the Transportation Research Board, the author noted the weight differential is not the only potential hazard during a crash with an electric vehicle.

Why Electric Vehicle Accidents Can Lead to Catastrophic Injuries in North Carolina

While electric vehicles offer numerous environmental and economic benefits, it’s essential to recognize and address their unique safety challenges.

They include, but are not limited to:

  • High Voltage Systems

Electric vehicles operate on high-voltage battery systems, which can pose additional risks in accidents. Damage to these systems can result in electrical fires, explosions, or electrocution, posing significant dangers to occupants, first responders, and bystanders.

  • Complex Battery Technology

Lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles contain flammable electrolytes and can be prone to thermal runaway if damaged. This can lead to difficulty extinguishing fires and may reignite even after initial suppression efforts, exacerbating the severity of accidents.

  • Inexperienced Responders

Electric vehicle accidents require specialized knowledge and training for first responders to safely manage the unique hazards of high-voltage systems and battery fires. Emergency responders may have limited experience dealing with these incidents in regions where EV adoption is less common, increasing the risk of accidents becoming more catastrophic.

  • Extrication Challenges

Electric vehicles often have reinforced structures to protect battery packs, complicating rescue efforts during a collision. Cutting through these materials to extricate occupants may take longer and require specialized tools, delaying access to medical care for injured individuals.

Continued advancements in technology, infrastructure, and emergency response protocols are critical for mitigating the risks associated with electric vehicle accidents and ensuring the safety of all road users. Currently, accidents involving EVs may lead to more catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities than their gasoline-powered counterparts—especially in high speed crashes.

Have You Been Injured in a North Carolina Car Accident Involving an Electric Vehicle?

If you were injured in a crash involving an electric vehicle caused by negligence in North Carolina, our personal injury attorneys in Charlotte at Dewey, Ramsay & Hunt want to hear your story during a free consultation by calling (704)-377-3737 or contacting us online.

We provide unique legal services tailored to each client’s needs and do not get paid unless you do.

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Because every case is different, the description of awards and issues previously managed by our law firm does not guarantee a similar outcome in current or future cases.