Exploding E-Cigarette Lawsuits
In recent years, e-cigarettes, also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigs, have become extremely popular.
Unfortunately, many different recent news stories have profiled the serious dangers associated with electronic cigarettes. Although these have been promoted as an alternative to traditional smoking, they may still pose serious risks for those individuals who are using e-cigs on a regular basis. Like any other product hitting the market it is important for companies to conduct the appropriate testing well in advance to determine what risks members of the public and consumers may face when using these products. Unfortunately, far too many individuals have realized far too late that e-cigarette explosions are a serious and life-threatening concern.
Millions of individuals around the world currently use electronic cigarettes. They have become extremely popular with people who are looking to quit their use of regular cigarettes or cut back significantly. Many people are making the decision to use these cigarettes instead of traditional smoking because they wish to live a healthier lifestyle which raises questions about how safe these items truly are. There have been numerous reports recently of these e-cigarettes catching fire or exploding.
If e-cigarettes are being promoted as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, then it’s important to conduct a complete investigation of the explosion incidents. There are numerous different questions that have to be answered when it comes to exploding cigarettes. Headlines alone can make it confusing to understand the real risks.
History of Electronic Cigarettes
E-cigarettes were first introduced into the market in the United States in 2007. They have been gaining popularity at extremely fast speeds. The market is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion annually and sales are continuing to grow. An electronic cigarette is an electrical device, and much like any other type of electrical device, carries some risk of explosion or malfunction. There are three primary components to an e-cigarette. The first is known as the tank or the cartridge where you store your liquid nicotine, the second is the heating element also referred to as the atomizer and the battery. The highest risk for an exploding cigarette or burn injury is associated with the battery itself.
What’s Behind Explosions of E-Cigs?
Approximately 80% of e-cigarette explosions, according to FEMA, happen during the charging process. In many cases this is tied to use of an alternative charger, meaning one that was not sold initially with the device when the consumer purchased it. This is the primary malfunction for the majority of e-cigarettes associated with explosions and fires. However, it’s important to remember that not all incidences associated with these problems happen when the battery itself is charging. Approximately 12% of the instances recorded in these reports indicate that the explosion or fire has happened when the device is in storage or in use by a consumer. This is tied largely to the potential risks associated with lithium batteries that hold a large amount of power into a relatively compact area.
A new study conducted in the American Journal of Medical Case Reports, however, identifies that there was no specific cause for an explosion that took place when the e-cigarette was stored inside a user’s pocket.
The Types of E-Cigarettes That Explode
Many of the news reports detailing these incidents do not make it clear what brands or makes of e-cigarettes are most likely to explode. However, research has identified few common factors.
Batteries are the primary concern associated with explosion issues, although there are still some e-cigarette models that appear to be more dangerous than others in and of themselves. The battery in a personal vaporizer or MOD will completely disconnect from the device, allowing it to be charged separately from the atomizer and the tank. These styles, according to research, appear to be safer than situations where the battery is immediately connected. Vape pens frequently have a USB port built in which allows an individual to plug in the entire device, putting the heating element right next to a charging battery. These models may be putting the user at significant risk of an injury. MODs also present unique risks as well.
A potential cause for concern with MODs is people using batteries that have wrappers. Any tear, weakness or rip in the battery wrapping can be dangerous, particularly as it relates to lithium ion batteries.
Some people might not even realize that carrying their electronic cigarette device in their pocket or purse could cause injuries. Most people using these devices don’t even think twice before throwing it in with their daily gear to ensure they have it for work or recreation. Even when the device is not plugged in, however, a risk is still present. If the device is inside your pocket when it explodes or ignites, it could be too late for a victim to do anything about it. This is one of the biggest reasons why a growing number of news reports are detailing how these injuries are happening.
A Big Market Generates Major Concerns and Confusion for Public Safety
These news stories have in turn sparked interest from government agencies and medical journals, all looking to understand what it is that makes someone likely to be hurt by such an item. While there are no conclusive factors as of yet that determine with certainty whether or not someone will be injured, the high risk of danger is present for anyone who regularly uses an electronic cigarette.
Since the market has developed so quickly, there are many different suppliers of vaping liquid as well as e-cigarettes. From an economic perspective, this might be seen as a good way to ensure that consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting what they’ll use. The downside of this, however, is that it can be harder to track where these items are coming from. It’s harder for researchers or regulators to figure out what it is about these devices that make them more or less likely to explode or the manufacturers behind certain dangerous models.
Since many of these items are being manufactured quickly to meet such high demand, it’s possible that those creating the products don’t even realize the danger behind them until it’s too late. With so many products available, consumers may be at risk if they use certain types of e-cigarette. While there are some general steps that can be taken by a consumer to decrease their chances of being injured, there’s no foolproof way to avoid a burn or explosion with an e-cig.
Charging in USB Ports
The majority of electronic cigarettes today have a USB port that connects the device to the power adapter. When the power adapter provided by the manufacturer is disconnected, these charging cords look like they can be used in other charging situations such as connecting a to a computer. However, this has been tied to the vast majority of e-cigarette explosions around the world. It is not possible to guarantee a safe charge outside of their intended use. The damage in the majority of exploding e-cigarette cases has been maintained locally, meaning that it does not cause significant fires. However, these explosions could lead to fires and significantly damage your property or leave individuals with an injury.
Approximately one-third of reported e-cigarette explosions left behind some kind of significant damage to a room, home or vehicle in which it was stored. Being closer to paper or other items that could easily catch fire made it more likely for these instances to occur. The majority of e-cigarette explosions occur while the charging process is taking place which means that there are fewer injuries than in situations where a fire was to spread. However, in some situations, e-cigarettes have exploded in a user’s mouth, hands or pocket leading to significant injuries.
If you continue to use your e-cig, make sure you do so with care. Always use the provided charger that came with your product. If you notice any sparking or strange smells, unplug the device immediately. You may also want to report your concerns to the manufacturer and to the owner of the store where you purchased it. Taking action sooner rather than later might even save your life. Don’t hesitate to come forward if you have already suffered injuries or physical damage due to an exploding e-cigarette.
Decreasing Your Chances of E-Cig Injury
There are some safety tips that may help individuals who are using e-cigarettes to protect themselves from serious injuries. A company may be held responsible in the event that the person comes forward with a personal injury lawsuit after being significantly injured by an e-cigarette. Some of the best tips to ensure your safety when using e-cigarettes include:
- Never plug in the item into a computer or other USB-capable device
- Understanding the danger of using counterfeit materials
- Only use the power adapter and charger that comes directly with your battery
- Do not overcharge the battery or leave it plugged in while you’re away from home or asleep
- Make sure that you work with a device that has a battery that removes separately from the atomizer in order to charge
- Use cases to protect your batteries
What to Do If Your E-Cigarette Explodes
If you are currently a user and consumer of e-cigarettes, there are important steps you need to take to protect yourself as well as your right to move forward with a personal injury claim in the event that your device explodes. The first thing to do is to take any steps necessary to protect yourself as well as other individuals such as minimizing the fire and limiting your injuries. Additional steps that need to be followed after an incident include:
- Documenting all of your injuries
- Keeping all evidence including the clothes you were wearing, damaged items, the charger and the e-cigarette device
- Getting contact information for all witnesses who saw the incident
- Obtain all of your medical records for treatments you received associated with the injury
- Determine whether or not any surveillance video captured the incident as it happened
- Speak with a product liability attorney
A number of electronic cigarette injury lawsuits have been filed in recent years. Between 2009 and 2013 the FDA received 50 injury reports alone. With the rise of e-cigarettes use, there were just as many complaints in a one-year period from March 2013 to March 2014.
Dangerous Products and Liability
As with any potentially dangerous consumer product, it sometimes takes numerous reports filed with government agencies before a thorough investigation is conducted. For the victims and their family members already suffering, however, answers are needed. It’s not yet clear what manufacturers can do to make these products less dangerous, but in the interim, it’s hard for users of this popular product to ensure they are safe. Those people who have already suffered may be curious about whether or not their case meets the grounds for an injury claim.
Some lawyers and firms with experience in product liability have already begun investigating cases and helping victims who have suffered serious injuries or property damage. While the reality of the dangers behind e-cigs explosions is in the public eye, it is likely that others will continue to become victims of this phenomenon in the near future.
More people who have been hurt or lost property as a result of an exploding e-cigarette are coming forward with personal injury claims by arguing that the manufacturer knew about these dangers or failed to notify consumers about the dangers. Since electronic cigarette explosion lawsuits are a relatively new development, it is important to identify a law firm that has experience in this area, who can answer your legal questions promptly and efficiently. Do not hesitate to reach out to a lawyer who has experience handling these kinds of situations.