Our personal injury law firm is concerned about the recent news regarding lithium-ion batteries causing deadly fires in New York City. According to reports, a 64-year-old man died in a Bronx apartment fire caused by a defective lithium-ion battery over the weekend, and the FDNY has reported 33 fires caused by these batteries this year, resulting in three deaths and 42 injuries.
To address this issue, Mayor Eric Adams signed five bills into law aimed at preventing fires caused by lithium-ion batteries in New York City (see our previous blog about these bills related to e-bike battery safety).
While the bills only address lithium battery safety in New York City, there is a need for federal legislation to ensure that batteries are safely manufactured and used. Currently, compliance with safety standards is voluntary, and the wide availability of uncertified or after-market tampered batteries is contributing to the problem. Additionally, a change in federal law in 2016 exempts imports below $800 from inspection and tariffs, which has made it easier for uncertified or unsafe batteries to enter the market.
As personal injury lawyers and bicycle accident lawyers, we applaud the recent decision by the Upper West Side Community Board 7 to back crosstown protected bike lanes. This move is a significant step forward in promoting safer cycling and reducing the number of bicycle accidents in New York City.
Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in New York, and it is essential to have adequate infrastructure to support it. Protected bike lanes provide a safe and secure environment for cyclists to ride, reducing the risk of collisions with motor vehicles, pedestrians, or other obstacles on the road. Studies have shown that protected bike lanes can reduce the number of crashes by up to 90%.
Bicycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or death
Defective lithium-Ion e-bike batteries have been the cause of 216 fires in NYC last year. 147 people suffered personal injury and 6 of them died in these fires. This year so far more than 20 lithium-ion battery fires have caused serious injury and death. Two weeks ago, in Brooklyn, a woman died from her injuries after being rescued from a fire in her building that was caused by batteries exploding in an another apartment that a tenant had transformed into an illegal lithium battery repair shop.
Yesterday the New York City Council voted on a legislative package dedicated to strengthen safety and prevent fires related to e-bike batteries:
- Introduction 663-A restricts the sale, lease or rental of e-bike, e-scooter or any other mobility device powered by lithium batteries as well as storage batteries that do not meet recognized safety standards. This means that these devices and their storage batteries will have to be tested by an accredited laboratory and meet the applicable Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standards. the testing laboratory or name will have to be displayed on the product itself or on the packaging or documentation.
A man died in a bicycle accident in New York City last Friday. 52 year old James Giambalvo was on his way to the supermaket, riding his bike on Wilson Avenue in Great Kills, Staten Island, NYC when he was side swiped by the driver of a SUV. The accident occurred near the intersection of Armstrong Avenue around 10:30 am.
According to the SILive, the victim was struck and pinned under the SUV which also sideswiped another car and knocked down a street sign. The driver of the car, a woman in her 30s remained at the scene of the accident. She has not been charged so far.
A large crew of police and emergency staff was deployed at the scene of the accident.
After a dip in 2020, construction accident deaths in New York State and New York City were on the rise again in 2021 according to the recently released “Deadly Skyline” report. “Deadly Skyline” is an annual report released by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). NYCOSH uses the most recent available data from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (DOL BLS) to compile an annual report on construction accident deaths in New York City and New York State.
A total of 61 hard hats died in NY State in 2021 compared to respectively 71, 69, 58, 55 and 41 in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Since 2016, during which a record number of construction workers died in NYS, the number of fatalities gradually declined to reach its lowest since 2013. While the slowdown in construction activity due to the Covid19 lockdown was a factor in the 2020 dip, the number of fatalities reported in 2021 jumped above the number of fatalities reported in 2019 and 2018.
Among the 61 construction workers who died in NY State, 20 of them died while working on a construction site in NYC. Construction workers fatalities also increased in 2021 in NYC compared to 2020 but remain lower or equal to the number of fatalities reported annually between 2013 and 2019 in the city. With the exception of 2020, construction fatalities in NYC never went below 20 since 2012 ands the only time they went down to 20 was in 2017.
Last year traffic fatalities in New York City reached their second highest level since Vision Zero started in 2014. Last year was also the first year in office for the Adams Administration and the new DOT Commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez.
Yesterday in an oversight hearing with the City Council, Rodriguez admitted that his department has been unable to reach specific street safety benchmarks required by the Council’s landmark 2019 Streets Plan. Last year the DOT only upgraded 14 bus stops out of the 500 planned and installed 4.4 miles of the 20 miles of protected bus lanes as well as 26.3 miles of the 30 protected bike lanes required.
The bills proposed by the City Council are not going far enough according to street activists
More pedestrians and more passengers died in auto accidents in 2022 than in 2021 while cyclists and motor vehicle operators fatalities declined. Bus accidents increased while truck accidents remained stable. Motorcycle accidents remain at record levels.
After reaching a record high in 2021, NYC traffic deaths reached their second highest number since Vision Zero started in 2014
According to traffic collision data provided by the NYPD, 251 people died in crashes in the city in 2022 compared to respectively 254, 239, 214, 199, 209, 223, 235, 250 and 286 in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. As a reminder, NYPD traffic collision data might differ slightly from the real data, especially for fatalities as sometimes people died from their injuries several days or weeks after the accident occurred.
18 children were injured after a fire erupted in an unlicensed daycare located in Queens. The fire was caused by a defective lithium-ion battery that exploded in the basement.
Firefighters were called yesterday afternoon around 2pm for a fire in a basement located at 147-07 72 Drive in Queens, NYC. When they arrived on location, the basement was filled with heavy fire and smoke. They removed 18 children from the building, most of them on the first floor and one of them in the basement. They found out that an illegal daycare was operating on the first floor. Most children suffered minor injuries and did not require to be hospitalized. One of them was critically injured and still remains in the hospital. Two adults also suffered injury in the fire.
A neighbor took care of the children as parents were alerted and asked to come pick up their young kids. The fire was controlled in 45 minutes.
16 children were killed in crashes in New York City last year according to a report recently published by Transportation Alternatives. This is the highest number of child road fatalities in the city since Vison Zero started in 2014.
Globally a total of 255 people were killed in traffic accidents in the city in 2022 compared to 275 in 2021. After last year this is the second highest number of road deaths in the city since Vision Zero started.
While Vision Zero studies clearly identified areas were safety improvements were needed, the city has left many of them unaddressed and as a result people continue to die. The numbers speak for themselves with 33% of all fatalities and 44% of pedestrian fatalities occurring in what Vision Zero calls “priority corridors”. These dangerous areas which have now been a priority for the last 10 years represent only 7% of all city streets. Fixing them proprely could lead to a significant reduction of traffic fatalities in the city.