E-cigarettes were once widely touted as an acceptable substitute for regular cigarettes, but they've rapidly become controversial. For one thing, smokers of traditional cigarettes don't have to worry that their cigarettes will explode on them—a danger faced by those who vape. Learn more about the potential harm caused by e-cigarettes and what you should do if you're injured.
How dangerous are they?
When the battery pack of an e-cigarette explodes, it can easily land you in the burn unit of your local hospital. While the exact number of injuries sustained so far isn't known, at least 25 have been reported between 2009 and 2014 to the U.S. Fire Administration. The Food and Drug Administration has 134 reports of similar events between 2009 and 2016. Doctors say that they are seeing the numbers increase, probably because the numbers of e-cigarette users has been increasing. The Arizona Burn Center has recently documented 12 cases of injuries due to e-cigarette explosions in 12 weeks.
The explosions, which are caused by either a short or some other malfunction in the lithium ion battery, are said to be super hot, and they can literally propel the e-cigarette forward like a rocket. While explosions are most common while the battery is charging, they've also exploded while in people's pockets, purses, and mouths. This has lead to burns severe enough to require skin grafts, broken teeth, burnt fingers and hands, blindness, facial scars, and significant emotional trauma.
Who is responsible if you're injured?
Many of the injuries are caused by cheap, defective batteries. In some cases, users simply aren't informed that doing something like putting the battery part in their pocket along with other metal objects, like keys or coins, can cause the battery to short out and explode. Users also end up overheating the batteries by leaving them plugged into a USB charger too long. Most of the e-cigarettes lack adequate warnings about the risk of explosion or the dangers of overheating and overcharging, leaving consumers unprepared for the possibility.
Because many of the manufacturers of e-cigarettes are overseas, lawsuits typically focus on everyone in the chain of supply between the manufacturer and the consumer. If the manufacturer is known and has sufficient economic ties on U.S. soil, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer liable. If not, product liability laws allow victims of defective goods to hold anyone in the display chain responsible for their injuries, including the wholesaler, the distributor, and the retail chain that sold the end product to the consumer.
If you've been injured due to an exploding e-cigarette, contact a personal injury attorney today, such as those found at King Law Firm, about the possibility of a case. You may be able to recover payment for your hospital bills, lost work days, future medical care (including reconstructive work), and pain and suffering.