Over the past decade, electronic cigarettes – also known as “vapes” – have become very popular. Today, more than 10 million Americans use e-cigarettes. For many e-cigarette users, vaping is a means to seek a nicotine “buzz” without inhaling the harmful chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes still pose a danger, such as the battery catching fire or exploding, thereby causing injury to the user. Often, the battery malfunction is not due to user error, but to a defect with the battery or the manufacturer’s product design.
How Do E-Cigarettes Work?
To understand how an e-cigarette can injure someone, it helps to know how they operate. The primary heating element in an e-cigarette is the battery. This battery can be a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or a disposable battery. Moving up the device’s barrel, there is a heating coil that activates when the user presses the exterior power button or draws on the mouthpiece. When activated, the battery heats the coil, causing the liquid nicotine to vaporize. The user inhales the vapor through the e-cigarette’s mouthpiece.
What Makes E-Cigarettes Dangerous?
The most dangerous component in an e-cigarette is its battery. An e-cigarette’s lithium-ion battery can get too hot, which can light nearby objects on fire, or cause the device to explode. While some e-cigarettes include properties to prevent fire or explosion, the battery and or safety device become stressed over time, and eventually lose stability or effectiveness. Some standard safety features are vent holes, button locks, and overcharge protection. The batteries used in various brands have different charge levels. Typically, the devices are sold with charging cables that provide the appropriate charge levels for that specific device’s battery. When an e-cigarette is sold without a corresponding charger, users have no choice but to use third-party chargers for their devices, such as a cell phone charger. These circumstances can lead to overcharging. Failure to provide proper instructions or product warnings may also produce dangerous outcomes. Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures, and when exposed to extreme temperatures for a prolonged period, they can leak or explode. Additionally, exposure of an e-cigarette battery’s negative and positive terminals to other metal surfaces or objects, may cause a fire.
How Can I Be Injured by an E-Cigarette Battery?
- An e-cigarette battery can lead to fires and explosions. These fires and explosions can result in burns, bone fractures, broken teeth, loss of eyesight, and soft tissue damage for the user. Additionally, a victim can suffer mental and emotional trauma from being subjected to an e-cigarette explosion or fire. Injuries like these can have a severe, long-lasting impact on a victim, potentially causing them to lose wages from missing work, suffer anxiety, depression, or possibly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After an E-Cigarette Failure
- A personal injury claim allows you to pursue financial compensation for your injury-related losses from the company that manufactured the e-cigarette involved in your accident.
Although no amount is guaranteed, you can pursue compensation for the following damages:
- Your medical bills (as well as ongoing medical expenses)
- Your lost wages due to having to leave work temporarily or permanently
- The projected future wages you now cannot earn because your injury rendered you unable to work
- Expenses related to the lifestyle changes as a result of the injury
- Your pain and suffering related to the injury
A personal injury claim alleging injury by a defective product, requires sufficient evidence to prove that your injury resulted from a preventable accident involving the product. The following documents are needed to support your case:
- Photographs of your injury on the date of the accident and as you work through your recovery
- Copies of your medical bills
- Documentation of the specific brand and model of the e-cigarette and battery involved in your accident
- Documentation showing the time you had to spend out of work to recover and the wages you lost as a result
- Testimony from your doctor discussing your ongoing medical needs
- Testimony from a mental healthcare provider discussing your psychological trauma related to the accident
- Statements from witnesses discussing the accident and your injury
- Documentation showing the injury’s future impact on your earning capacity and quality of life
Wrongful Death Claims
In unfortunate instances where a product defect leads to death, close loved ones may be able to recover compensation for the losses they experience because of the victim’s passing. Losses suffered by the victim’s estate include the victim’s medical bills (between the accident and his death), funeral expenses, and pain and suffering (between the accident and his death). Losses suffered by the victim’s loved ones can include financial support, projected future income, emotional trauma related to the death, and loss of the victim’s companionship and consortium. Specific limits regarding who can make these claims and the amount varies by state. These limits are known as “caps,” and they may be applied broadly or only to specific types of damages, like non-economic damages. Some states also impose caps on compensation recovered in wrongful death claims. If you have lost a loved one in an e-cigarette accident talk to a Wrongful death lawyer in your state about the laws and limits applicable to your case.
Reporting the Incident to the FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the manufacturing and sale of e-cigarette products in the United States. By reporting any accidents and injuries involving e-cigarettes you experience to the FDA, you are protecting current and future users by helping the FDA create stronger, safer policies.
Reporting also strengthens your case. You can file your report with the FDA easily and for free through its online safety reporting portal.Your reportmust include the following:
- Your name
- The date of the accident
- Your resulting injuries
- The brand and model e-cigarette involved in the accident
- The serial number of the e-cigarette involved in your accident
- Where and when the e-cigarette was purchased
- The brand name and model of the battery used in the e-cigarette
- Whether the e-cigarette was modified in any way
- Whether you used the e-cigarette according to its manufacturer’s instructions or if you deviated from these instructions in any way
You need to be honest about whether you modified your e-cigarette in any way or if you used it in a manner contrary to its manufacturer’s instructions – these points matter because they help regulators pinpoint how and why accidents occurred.
Keep in mind that if you did use your e-cigarette or its battery in a way that violated its manufacturer’s instructions, including modifying it with third-party add-ons, you could face difficulty recovering compensation for your damages. Typically, a manufacturer is only liable for damages related to its products when injured victims use the products as the manufacturer meant for them to be used.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love were injured in an e-cigarette battery explosion contact Van Law Firm at (702) 529-1011 today to schedule your free legal consultation. You could be entitled to a significant amount of money to cover your related medical expenses and other losses.