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Smartphones –they are used for talking, texting, searching the Internet, checking emails, listening to music, and taking pictures.  They even make a great alarm clock among a host of other important functions for everyday users.  It is rare to find someone without their Smartphone within reach 24/7, especially teenagers.  In fact, it is not unusual for someone to fall asleep with their phone.

That is exactly what a Texas teen did.  The 13-year-old said she fell asleep with her Samsung Galaxy 4 smartphone at her side; she had been using it much of the day so the battery was being charged at the time.  Later that night, she smelled something burning but didn’t think much of it and fell back asleep.  It wasn’t until the smell became stronger that the teen looked under her pillow and found her phone melted and her pillow and bedding burned.  The teen’s dad believes the phone overheated, causing the battery to swell and ignite a small fire.

Samsung has promised to replace the phone, mattress, and bedding, despite warnings that come with the phone and battery.  A Samsung spokesperson said the phone’s user manual states:

“Covering the device with bedding, your body, thick clothing or any other materials that significantly affect air flow may affect the performance of the phone and poses a possible risk of fire or explosion, which could lead to serious bodily injuries or damage to property.”

and the “common phone” battery warning states:

“Do not use incompatible cell phone batteries and chargers. Some websites and second-hand dealers not associated with reputable manufacturers and carriers might be selling incompatible or even counterfeit batteries and chargers. Consumers should purchase manufacturer or carrier-recommended products and accessories. If unsure about whether a replacement battery or charger is compatible, contact the manufacturer of the battery or charger.”

Serious damage of this nature in electronics is almost always battery-related — as was at least two similar cases last year.  A Samsung Galaxy S3 exploded in an 18-year-old girl’s pants pocket, causing third-degree burns.  An investigation revealed that the battery was a knock-off.  Another woman said she feels lucky to be alive after her Nexus S caught fire.  The woman said she plugged in her phone, set the alarm, and went to sleep.  About two hours later, she woke up to a loud crack and the smell of something burning.  Once the flames were extinguished, she found her phone scattered in pieces.  The battery in the phone was from a third-party supplier.

Bottom line – be smart when replacing your smartphone, and all electronics, batteries.  While a cheaper price may be alluring, it is not worth the risk especially because a third-party battery will most likely deteriorate more quickly, holding less and less charge.  Additionally, avoid leaving your electronics in hot places such as the car dashboard and do not store batteries near metal.  Remember the old adage – you get what you pay for? Don’t pay with your life!

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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