From 2015 to 2017, there were 2,035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries treated at US hospital emergency departments, a 2018 study estimates. E-cigarette explosions are expected to increase and have caused serious, permanent injuries and at least one death. If you or a loved one has been injured by an exploding e-cigarette, you could be eligible for compensation from the e-cigarette manufacturer or distributor. A product liability attorney from Newsome Melton can help you build a case and win the damages you deserve. To schedule a free case evaluation with an e-cigarette and vape explosion injury lawyer, call us at 888-808-5977.
What is an E-Cigarette?
Although conventional cigarette smoking has declined significantly, there has been a dramatic rise in the use of e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control – especially among teens and young adults. E-cigarettes are battery-powered electronic devices that heat and vaporize a flavored liquid nicotine solution that the user inhales like a traditional cigarette. First patented in 2003, and marketed in the U.S. in 2007, e-cigarettes are also known as e-cigs, personal vaporizers (PVs), electronic nicotine delivery systems, mods, and “vape” pens. E-cigarette use is commonly referred to as “vaping.” They now represent an estimated $2.8 billion market supported by 2.7 million e-cigarette users.
The e-cigarette industry touts vaping as a safer alternative to smoking, because they don’t burn carcinogenic tar or emit carbon monoxide. And, many users are former smokers or those who are trying to quit. While researchers debate whether the nicotine vapor created by e-cigarettes leads to lung cancer, the devices themselves have emerged as an immediate threat to public health and safety.
A September 2018 study estimated that there were 2,035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries treated at US hospital emergency departments, from 2015-2017. These injuries include the loss of a body part, second and third-degree burns, lacerations requiring stitches and facial injuries requiring hospitalizations. For example, in a January 2017 e-cigarette explosion, Andrew Hall of Pocatello, Idaho lost seven teeth and suffered second-degree burns on his face, after the e-cigarette he was smoking exploded in his face.
E-cigarette explosions have resulted in at least one death. In May 2018, a 38-year-old Florida man died when his vape pen exploded, sending projectiles into his cranium, and starting a small house fire. The man also suffered burns on 80 percent of his body.
How Do E-Cigarettes Explode?
E-cigarettes heat a solution of propylene glycol and/or glycerin, mixed with nicotine and other flavorings. The parts include a mouthpiece, a cartridge or “tank” that holds the liquid, an atomizer, which heats the liquid and to create the vapor, a microprocessor, sometimes a switch to control the heating element and a battery. Some e-cigs have an LED at the tip to simulate the glow of a cigarette.
They range wildly in price – from $30 to $300, and in the way the devices are constructed – disposable devices, rechargeable devices, variable wattage devices, variable voltage devices, those with fixed batteries and those with removable batteries. E-cigarettes use lithium-ion batteries—the same culprit implicated in many other consumer products explosions and fires, such as smartphones and hoverboards. For example, in 2017 Toshiba recalled over 190,000 lithium-ion batteries due to the risk of explosion.
Researchers say that the current generation of lithium-ion batteries is not safe sources of energy for these devices. In fact, the combination of lithium-ion batteries in an e-cigarette’s narrow cylindrical shape with tapered ends makes them more likely to explode. When the battery seal at either end ruptures, it quickly builds pressure within the cylinder, which also ruptures, propelling the battery and/or the container forward like a flaming rocket.
The U.S. Fire Administration examined e-cigarette fires and explosions from 2009-2016 and concluded that “the combination of an electronic cigarette and a lithium-ion battery is a new and unique hazard. There is no analogy among consumer products to the risk of a severe, acute injury presented by an e-cigarette.”
E-cigarette explosions usually happen at one of three times: while charging, during use, and during transportation in an enclosed place.
The risk of e-cigarette explosion is highest when the chemicals inside the lithium-ion battery overheat, usually as a result of overcharging. E-cigarettes are supposed to have built-in mechanisms that signal when the battery is fully powered and shut down charging at that point. But when this mechanism fails, the battery builds up heat from the excess charge, causing it to emit a hot gas that pressurizes the e-cigarette’s casing.
An e-cigarette can also explode while transported in confined space, particularly if that space is in the user’s pocket. Button-controlled devices — the user presses a button on the e-cigarette to activate the heating mechanism – are particularly vulnerable. The button can get pressed accidentally in the user’s pocket, causing it to overheat and explode. Users have suffered injuries from e-cigarettes exploding in their pants and shirt pockets.
The U.S. Fire Administration’s 2017 analysis found that 62 percent of the time the explosion occurred when the device was either in a pocket or actively in use.
Making a Legal Claim After an E-cigarette Injury
An e-cigarette that spontaneously combusts can suffer from a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or both. A civil lawsuit can hold the responsible parties liable for your injuries. The attorneys at Newsome Melton will investigate your case by studying the physical evidence, and the manufacturer’s safety record. Our goal is to win you every dollar you deserve in compensation for the injuries of you or your loved one.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible for substantial compensation for some or all of the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced ability to earn
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
If you or someone you loved was hurt by an exploding e-cigarette, call Newsome Melton at 888-808-5977
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