Vape Pens Can Kill: The Dangers of Exploding E-Cigarettes
Vaping is promoted as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, but that’s not always the case. For some, vaping is seen as a way to quit smoking, but in youth populations, e-cigarettes have been attracting teens who never would have smoked cigarettes. About 40% of teens who vape reportedly never smoked a cigarette. As vaping has become a trend of its own, many researchers have started looking into the truth of vaping and are trying to determine whether it really is beneficial as an alternative to tobacco products. As our knowledge of these products increases, new risks are surfacing, including the alarming possibility of e-cigarettes exploding and killing the person using them.
In May 2018, a Florida man lost his life when his e-cigarette exploded and part of the device became lodged in his brain. This gruesome occurrence is not the only known case of an e-cigarette exploding and causing vape injuries. Consumers are now starting to take action against the companies that profit from these dangerous devices, and at Parker Waichman LLP, we’re here to help. Call us for a free consultation today and a skilled e-cigarette lawyer with our firm will help you hold manufacturers accountable when they sell products that injure and kill people.
What Is an E-Cigarette?
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are devices that contain a cartridge filled with a nicotine liquid, which comes in a variety of flavors. The battery-powered e-cigarette heats the liquid, turning it into a vapor that is then inhaled. In this way, vaping mimics smoking, though the device creates vapor, not smoke. But when someone vapes, they are still consuming nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, at about the same level as if they were smoking.
The Risk of E-Cigarette Explosions
When Tallmadge D’Elia was found dead in his burning home, investigators released a statement saying that the cause of the Florida man’s death was a projectile wound in his head. According to officials, the 38-year-old victim was using an e-cigarette when the device exploded, shooting part of the e-cigarette into his brain like a bullet.
The cause of the explosion was the lithium ion battery used to power the device. Lithium batteries are used in many modern electronic devices, including laptops, smartphones, and Teslas. On rare occasions, a part of these batteries can get too hot and cause a type of chain reaction known as “thermal runaway.” Some batteries contain safety features that can reduce the risk of this occurring, while other products do not.
In the case of D’Elia’s exploding e-cigarette, the problem could have been the result of the battery overcharging and then experiencing a short. The device D’Elia was using was one of the larger units, which in turn had a more powerful battery.
Not an Isolated Case
The e-cigarette explosion that killed D’Elia was not the only documented explosion of an e-cigarette. Between 2009 and 2016, the United States Fire Administration received reports of 195 fires and explosions caused by e-cigarettes. While D’Elia was the first person reportedly killed by one of these devices, there have been many other injuries, including a teen who was injured on a Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, when an e-cigarette in someone else’s pocket exploded, a man who sustained third-degree burns after his vaping device exploded in his pocket, and another man who suffered burns to his lungs, face, chest, and hands when his e-cigarette blew up in his face.
A Nevada 17-year-old suffered serious injuries to his mouth and face in 2019 after the vape pen he was using allegedly exploded in his mouth. Like many others, Austin Adams had turned to electronic cigarettes (also known as “e-cigs” or “vape pens”) to help him break his tobacco addiction and quit smoking. However, the lithium-ion battery in the device allegedly exploded during use, inflicting blast and burn injuries to the teen’s mouth and causing Adams to lose several teeth as well as part of his gums.
Why Do Vapes Explode?
The FDA and other organizations have conducted research to answer the question, “Why do vapes explode?” Their findings determined that the battery causes vapes to explode. The vape that caused Adams and others to sustain injuries used a lithium-ion battery, a common power source that is used to power everything from vape pens and cellphones to electronics on jumbo jets. They are popular because of the amount of power they can produce compared to their relatively small size. The safe operation of these batteries depends in part on a thin separator that is meant to keep the positively charged cathode and the negatively charged anode separate. If this separator fails, a short-circuit can result, causing the battery to reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more. At this temperature, the liquid electrolyte in the battery that allows the electrical charge to travel between the cathode and the anode can ignite, causing dangerous vape injuries.
Will My Vape Pen Explode?
If your vape pen uses a lithium-ion battery, then it could explode if it overheats. The FDA has a few recommendations for what to do to lessen the risk of your vape pen exploding, like using certain safety features and protecting your loose batteries from contact with metal. But unfortunately, nothing can guarantee whether or not a vape that uses a lithium-ion battery will explode.
Can Disposable E-Cigs Explode?
So far, there have been no reports of disposable e-cigs exploding, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. Think carefully before purchasing one, and always follow the packaging instructions to make sure you’re using the product as instructed.
How Many People Have Died From Exploding E-Cigarettes?
At least two people have died due to exploding vapes, and scores more have suffered non-fatal but severe injuries such as burns and shattered jaws.
How Do I Keep My Vape Pen From Exploding?
The FDA has recommended that users of vape pens take the following steps to reduce the risk of their vape pen exploding unexpectedly:
- Do not use a phone charger or tablet charger to charge a vape pen: Only use the charger that came with it.
- Replace wet or damaged batteries.
- Do not leave a vape pen charging overnight or under a pillow, on a couch or anywhere else where the device may overheat.
- Keep spare or loose lithium-ion batteries in a separate case away from other metal objects.
- Do not expose a vape pen or batteries to extreme heat or cold.
- Do not mix old and new batteries or use batteries from different brands.
- Look for vape pens that have features such as firing button locks, vent holes or a feature to prevent overcharging.
Liability for Injuries From Defective Products
When a person suffers an injury due to a defective product, the manufacturer or seller of that product can be held liable. This means that the injured individual can be compensated for the harm caused to them. Products can be defective by design, because of an error in manufacturing or because the company selling the device did not provide adequate warnings or instructions to consumers about the product’s risks.
What Types of Vapes Are Exploding? Vape Pen Manufacturers With Risky Products
Any vape that uses a lithium-ion battery runs the risk of explosion, but here are a few brands and products associated with explosions to help you determine which vapes are exploding most frequently:
- Smok-E Mountain
- Advken Kennedy
Legal Rights for Those Hurt in Vape Pen Explosions
Vape pen explosions may be caused by a defect in the lithium-ion battery used in these devices, which means that those who have been injured in vape pen explosion incidents may be entitled to file an e-cigarette explosion lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vape pen, the manufacturer of the lithium-ion battery or both. The compensation recovered can help victims address the expenses associated with:
- Emergency medical room treatment and follow-up care
- Reconstructive surgeries
- Time missed from work and any loss of income from not being able to return to your former job or position
- Emotional and mental distress that stems from having disfiguring injuries, experiencing physical pain, and being limited in the ability to participate in typical and customary family and social activities
Work With a Skilled
Vaping Injury Lawyer
Across the country, people who have been injured by dangerous exploding batteries are starting to file lawsuits against the manufacturers. While many products use lithium-ion batteries, most products are not being used in a person’s face, creating the incredible risk that e-cigarettes present to consumers. Cases against manufacturers have been mounting, with a 2018 Efest lawsuit among the first to go to trial. That case led to a $2 million verdict against the seller of the defective battery. Meanwhile, a lawsuit against e-cigs is pending in federal court in San Francisco, and many more legal claims are piling up as people discover the dangers of vaping, which can also include a variety of health problems.
Predictions show that the e-cigarette market is likely to be worth a massive $32 billion by 2021. The companies profiting from this technology should be held accountable for the injuries their products are causing.
If you have been harmed by vaping, Parker Waichman’s attorneys are here to help. We have decades of experience trying complex product liability cases, and we take pride in our work as advocates for individuals who have been harmed by defective and dangerous products. We have recovered more than $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for our personal injury clients, and we can help you get the compensation you deserve, too.
If you have suffered injuries from vaping, you may have grounds for an exploding e-cigarette injury lawsuit. Contact us today at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.
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