Vape Injury Lawyer in San Diego
With any defective consumer product, the potential for personal injury may exist. The potential becomes even greater if the product includes a lithium-ion battery – batteries use volatile materials that can catch fire without warning when operating temperatures are too high. More than ever, e-cigarette users are reporting injuries resulting from lithium-ion battery explosions.
What Are E-Cigarettes / Vapes?
E-cigarettes, also known as vape pens and e-cigs, are electronic devices that generate vapor to deliver nicotine to the user via the lungs. Some e-cigarettes look similar to regular tobacco and others resemble other items such as flashlights and small boxes.
Most e-cigarettes use components typically made in China – few quality control standards exist there, and hardware cloning is rampant. Occasionally, defective e-cigarettes find their way into consumers’ hands. Defective e-cigarettes may overheat, explode and cause severe personal injury. California law holds that any entity involved in the distribution of dangerously defective products — including the manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer — could potentially be liable for any injuries caused by those products.
Background on E-Cigarette Explosions
Varying reports exist as to how many e-cigarette explosions have occurred. A 2014 report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency describes reports of 25 e-cigarette fires and explosions.1 According to the Food and Drug Administration, 134 e-cigarettes have exploded.2 Independent website eCig One published a report listing more than 200 e-cigarette explosions.3
Victims of e-cigarette explosions have experienced severe burns, dental injuries, eye injuries, lost digits, home damage, property damage and more.
Why do E-Cigarettes Explode?
Some of the most common e-cigarette explosion scenarios include:
- Overheating and exploding while charging
- Exploding suddenly during use
- Exploding during transport in the user’s pocket
When an e-cigarette explodes, the battery is the cause. If a battery is overcharged, drained too rapidly or subjected to a short circuit condition, the chemicals in the battery may overheat. When a lithium-ion battery overheats, it begins to vent hot gas. Most e-cigarettes do not have designs that allow hot gas to escape easily, so the built-up pressure causes the e-cigarette’s casing to explode. An exploding e-cigarette can behave much like a rocket or pipe bomb.
How do Faulty Products Cause E-Cigarette Explosions?
Most e-cigarettes have mechanisms intended to keep users safe. When those mechanisms fail, explosions can happen.
E-Cigarette Explodes During Charging
An e-cigarette battery typically contains an integrated circuit that automatically ends the charge cycle when the battery reaches its target voltage. When you charge an e-cigarette battery, it is vital to only use the equipment supplied by the e-cigarette’s manufacturer.
A mobile phone charger, for example, may provide a charging current too high for the battery to handle. There have also been cases in which e-cigarettes have exploded because their internal protection circuits have failed.
E-Cigarette Explodes During Use
In some cases, an e-cigarette can explode violently during use. E-cigarettes that explode during use are most commonly “mechanical mods.” Mechanical mods include no safety features and depend on their owners to avoid unsafe usage conditions. Even if the owner knows how to use a mechanical mod safely, though, it can still explode if its battery is faulty.
E-Cigarette or E-Cigarette Battery Explodes During Transport
Some e-cigarettes have exploded while being carried in their owners’ pockets. An e-cigarette usually operates with an activation switch or button that causes its atomizer to heat and vaporize the nicotine liquid. Although it is possible to turn many e-cigarettes off or lock their buttons to prevent accidental use, some mechanical mods lack locking features. If a mechanical mod doesn’t have a lock, it is possible to hold the activation button down until the battery overheats.
The media has also reported explosions that occurred when people carried bare e-cigarette batteries in their pockets. When a bare battery explodes, the explosion usually occurs because the battery touches other metal objects in the pocket and creates a short circuit.
What Is Being Done About Exploding E-Cigarettes?
At the time of writing, the United States government has not taken action to regulate the design and quality control standards of e-cigarettes or e-cigarette batteries. The Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to regulate the safety of the vapor, though. The United States Navy has been very proactive in its approach to e-cigarettes, banning them on all ships and aircraft.4
How do E-Cigarette Personal Injury Claims Work?
Because the e-cigarette is a relatively new product, few attorneys have experience in litigating e-cigarette personal injury claims. For the best possible chance of success, it is imperative to have an attorney on your side who understands the technicalities of vape pen injuries. The first thing that your attorney will do is review the circumstances of your case — and the instruction manual for your e-cigarette — to confirm that you were using the e-cigarette in the intended manner when it exploded.
Your attorney will also want to confirm where you purchased the e-cigarette, so you should locate and save the purchase receipt if possible. If you no longer have the receipt, it may be possible to sue the manufacturer of the e-cigarette for damages relating to the explosion. If you can prove where you purchased the e-cigarette, though, you can sue the distributor who provided the e-cigarette to your local retailer.
Having the ability to sue the distributor of the defective e-cigarette is important because the distributor likely carries product liability insurance. Your local vape shop most likely does not carry product liability insurance, which means that it would not have the means to pay any award that a court might give to you.
Can I Receive an Award or Settlement for an E-Cigarette Injury?
If an e-cigarette or battery has a defect in its design or manufacturing or the e-cigarette’s instruction manual fails to offer a full warning against unsafe usage, a court may find that the e-cigarette’s owner deserves compensation in the event of an injury.
If you have been injured a result of a malfunctioning vape, you may receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Missed work
- Physical and mental pain
- Reduced ability to earn money
- Reduced quality of life
Contact Us for Help With Your E-Cigarette Injury Claim
If you have been injured in an e-cigarette fire or explosion, you deserve a personal injury attorney who knows how best to present your case and defend your rights. Contact us now for help with your claim.