Safety advocates have renewed old safety concerns regarding the Tesla Model S erupting into flame “like a flamethrower.” Montlick & Associates is offering a free case review to injury victims and families who tragically lost loved ones in fatal accidents. Call us nationwide 24 hours day/7 days a week at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or use our website’s Live Chat feature.

According to a news article published on, a Tesla Model S owner heard “metallic bangs” coming from his Tesla Model S, and so the driver pulled off a suburban Dallas highway. Within seconds, the car began to shoot flames. The report described the car shooting flames like “a flamethrower.” The incident now has safety experts concerned about fatal accidents involving older Tesla Model S cars.

According to the owner, the sound was similar to “dropping an axle of a normal car on the ground.” However, the Tesla was intact, the man recalled. He was surprised how quickly the vehicle ignited in flames, and the fire appeared to concentrate around the “front passenger-side wheel of the Tesla.”

The news report states that this combustion incident is one of several fire incidents involving older Tesla Model X and S motor vehicles. Experts believe the fire incident is related to the vehicle’s battery, and this raises serious questions about the durability and safety of electric vehicle batteries as the vehicles begin to age. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently investigating the Dallas Tesla fire incident, and the agency has contacted Tesla about the issue. According to NHTSA spokesman Sean Rushton, the NHTSA has opened an investigation into battery defects that may have caused fires in older Tesla SUVs and sedans.

One civil lawsuit and a defect petition caused the NHTSA to investigate the issue allege that Tesla “manipulated its battery software in older model cars to reduce the risk of fire.” The manipulation of the software also decreased the vehicle’s range and increased the charging times to address the undisclosed defect. Plaintiff’s attorney stated that there had been an “alarming number of car fires” that seemed to be spontaneous.

Tesla has responded to the allegations by asserting its electric cars are “ten times less likely to catch fire than gasoline vehicles.” Telsa made this claim based on information collected by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the National Fire Protection Association, which report data on the number of events per miles driven for its fleet of electric cars vs. other motor vehicles. Tesla stated that, in 2018, its electric vehicles had only five fires per billion miles traveled versus 55 fires per billion miles traveled in gasoline vehicles in the United States.

Experts maintain that electric vehicle catches on fire at a comparable rate to gas vehicles, if not less often. However, the intensity and duration of the lithium-ion battery systems fires are much more difficult to extinguish due to the fires being fueled by chemicals and the extreme heat buildup in the batteries.

According to the Tesla Model S emergency response guide, “battery fires can take up to 24 hours to extinguish.”

A report created on behalf of the NHTSA asserts that electric vehicle fires can create a chain reaction when a single cell begins to overheat. The fire can then ignite highly flammable materials in the rest of the battery and spiral out of control as the temperature rises, a dangerous reaction called “thermal runaway.” Another report produced for NHTSA concerning the safety of lithium-ion batteries for use in electric and plug-in hybrid cars “suggests that the technology and industry have not matured sufficiently to have established comprehensive safety codes and standards that mitigate risks.”

Tesla retracting door handles has also caused problems for emergency first responders. According to one victim’s family, in one frightful incident involving a Model S, the driver was trapped inside a burning Tesla because the Model S’s electronic door handles failed to retract after a fiery accident. The victim’s family is being blamed for the design feature in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family. The lawsuit states that the victim’s death was caused by the design features instead of the accident itself. The battery reignited three more times while at the impound lot.

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If you have been injured or lost a family member because of a Tesla Model S battery fire, contact Montlick & Associates, Injury Attorneys, for your free consultation today. Our law firm has been representing those who suffer serious injuries for over 39 years. Our trial attorneys have recovered billions of dollars for our clients through negotiated settlements, litigation/lawsuits, settlement of lawsuits, jury verdicts, mediation, and arbitration awards.

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