The dangers of smoking cigarettes are well known. Not only does smoking cause cancer, but it also damages the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, skin, and bones. While most smokers are aware of the risks, the addictive nature of cigarettes makes it incredibly difficult to stop. One of the ways cigarette smokers attempt to quit is by switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping with e-cigarettes.
Most researchers agree that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes because they don’t contain tar or most of the other poisonous gases found in cigarette smoke. However, these electronic devices come with other dangers you might not expect.
Why are e-cigarettes dangerous?
E-cigarettes are a type of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) in the same class of devices as vaporizers, vape pens, and hookah pens. Within an e-cigarette, a lithium ion battery is used to power an atomizer, which is a component that converts liquid nicotine into the vapor that a user inhales. These batteries are small and powerful and have proven to be dangerous with cell phones, laptops, hoverboards, and now, e-cigarettes.
The shape and construction of e-cigarettes makes these devices extremely likely to catch on fire when a battery fails. Because e-cigarettes are cylindrical, a combusted battery can shoot out with extreme force. The lack of industry-wide manufacturing standards and testing programs also means low-cost, low-quality lithium ion batteries are being marketed and sold. These cheap products have a greater chance of being defective than well-made batteries.
E-cigarette batteries can also explode if the cells are overcharged or charged too quickly. Extreme temperatures may lead to a device malfunction as well. These accidents can happen without warning – even when an e-cigarette is being used or if the batteries are loose in a user’s pocket.
E-cigarette product liability jury verdicts
Most consumers don’t expect to be harmed by the products they use every day. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. While devastating and often life altering, victims have the power to hold product manufacturers, distributers, retailers, and wholesalers accountable for their negligence. Take a look at the two jury verdicts below to see how a product liability lawsuit can unfold.
- E-cigarette charger starts fire; victim awarded $1.95 million
In 2013, the plaintiff purchased an e-cigarette kit containing a lithium-ion battery and decided to charge the battery in her car’s USB power port. Liquid began dripping from the battery and a chemical smell filled the car. Moments later, the battery exploded and sprayed shards of metal throughout the car, setting the plaintiff’s dress and the passenger seat on fire. The plaintiff suffered second-degree burns to her legs, buttocks, and hands. She sued the distributor, wholesaler, and retailer for strict products liability and was awarded $1.95 million for her injuries.
- Gainesville man awarded $2 million after e-cigarette explodes in his mouth
In 2016, the plaintiff brought his e-cigarette device to his lips and, when he inhaled, the battery and vaping device exploded in his mouth. The explosion blew out four of the plaintiff’s teeth and caused severe bleeding in his mouth. He was rushed to the hospital where was treated for his injuries. The plaintiff’s medical expenses totaled $27,800 and he anticipated an additional $20,000 worth of medical bills. After jury deliberation, the eBay retailer who sold the plaintiff a faulty battery was ordered to pay $2 million for pain and suffering plus the $47,800 for medical expenses.
Which e-cigarette and e-cigarette battery brands are unsafe?
Lithium ion batteries make it possible to charge your cellphone, laptop, and other portable electronic devices. What makes one battery safe and another prone to catching on fire? Most experts agree that it comes down to manufacturing defects and lack of quality control. The E-Lites brand came under scrutiny in 2014 when an e-cigarette exploded while charging, starting a fire that damaged a family’s flat in the U.K. In 2017, a lawsuit claimed a Wisconsin woman suffered severe burns on her legs, hips, thighs, and buttocks from carrying two e-cigarette batteries in her pocket and named Liion Wholesale as the offending battery brand. More recently in 2018, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. issued a nationwide safety recall of all of the Vuse Vibe power units used for about 2.6 million e-cigarettes after consumer reports that the batteries overheated, creating a fire risk. Other brands known for selling faulty e-cigarettes and e-cigarette batteries include V2 Cigs, Smokin T, Bellos, Crown Seven, and Kangertech, and 88Vape.
Have you been injured from an e-cigarette failure? Contact Harlan Law today.
A report from the U.S. Fire Administration showed that 195 separate incidents of explosion and fire involving an electronic cigarette were reported by the U.S. media between 2009 and 2016. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to an e-cigarette accident, we recommend contacting a personal injury and product liability attorney right away.
At Harlan Law, we have helped countless people get justice for their personal injuries so they can heal and get closure. While nothing can erase the pain and anguish of a burn injury due to an e-cigarette failure, you can hold the negligent party responsible.
Call us at (619) 870-0802 to schedule your free consultation today.