E-Cigarette Explosions a Widespread Issue
Anti-smoking campaigns have effectively brought about an overall decrease in cigarette smoking. Former smokers have largely turned to e-cigarettes to help kick the habit. Rather than light a cigarette that is then smoked by the user, e-cigarettes are electronic devices that vaporize a flavored liquid. The liquid often contains nicotine. The popular term “vaping” is used to describe e-cigarettes, and “vape shops” have sprouted up across the United States, offering various e-liquids, e-cigarette devices, and other accessories.
Lithium-ion batteries often power e-cigarettes, and, frighteningly, in many cases, they have caught on fire or even exploded. Severe burns and other injuries have been reported. The seemingly unstable devices have caused concern among the medical community, the legal community, and even the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration have introduced restrictions on taking e-cigarettes onboard their flights.
Last year, in Colorado, there were 34 reported cases of e-cigarette batteries exploding. In these 34 cases, 27 people required hospital treatment. Burns and other injuries were reported. At one facility, University of Colorado Hospital, physicians and medical staff treated 16 e-cigarette burn victims. The facility’s burn center director, Dr. Anne Wagner, commented, “It seems to me that the battery is the problem with them. Until somebody makes them have safe batteries, they’re not safe to be out in public.”
Since 2011, there have been 253 reported cases of e-cigarette explosions. Most of these have occurred in the past 2 years. The explosions have occurred in homes, in cars, and even while walking down the street. They have happened both while the e-cigarettes are charging and while they are unplugged from the charger. One incident even happened at Universal Studios: a 14-year-old girl on the Hogwarts Express was injured when another individual’s e-cigarette exploded, throwing flames onto the girl.
A California man’s speech is now impaired due to his e-cigarette exploding while it was in his mouth. His tongue was injured and he also lost half a finger.
In yet another case, a toddler was burned and the toddler’s car seat damaged when an e-cigarette blew up.
In the 253 reported cases, almost half—48 percent—occurred while the devices were in someone’s pocket. Approximately 28 percent occurred while the device was near someone’s face.
Although many are still trying to figure out why exactly the e-cigarettes explode, there is a common element: many of the devices that ignite provide few directions and little warning about how to properly use them. One user reported that a vape shop employee told him, “Just charge it up and you’re good to go.”
Many doctors, lawyers, and other regulators argue that there needs to be a greater effort at combatting exploding e-cigarettes. Dr. Wagner said, “They all know that it’s a battery. There’s a lot of excuses being brought up as to why this is happening, but what I’ve also been told is they’re not regulated; nobody is regulating these.”
One Chicago personal injury attorney commented that manufacturers are often located outside of the United States, so it is difficult to hold them accountable.
Products liability claims
There are three primary types of product defects that may cause injuries to users: design defects, manufacturing defects, and the failure to warn about risks associated with the product.
Design defects are issues with the design of the product itself. In the e-cigarette example, the poor design of the battery may be a design defect.
With a manufacturing defect, an issue occurs as the product is being assembled. If the wrong material was used in an e-cigarette, which led to its exploding, this would be a manufacturing defect.
The failure to warn claim is appropriate when a company does not provide adequate instructions about the use of the product. For example, if e-cigarette companies do not provide enough information about safely charging and using the devices, they may be liable for injuries.
Were you injured by an e-cigarette? If so, contact our New Jersey product liability lawyers today for a free consultation
If you were injured by an exploding e-cigarette, contact the leading New Jersey injury attorneys at Lomurro Law for a free evaluation of your claim. Our attorneys are experienced in product liability claims. To schedule your free consultation, call 732-482-9285 or contact us online.