E-cigarettes and vape pens are supposed to be a safer, healthier alternative to smoking tobacco products. Unfortunately, they come with a new and different risk: exploding batteries.
With increasing sales of these devices, a rise in exploding batteries has occurred. As a result, defective product lawsuits have also risen, establishing a history of product liability negligence in the industry.
The failure of the devices isn’t a simple manufacturing issue, either. The explosions are causing physical injuries, severe burns, and have ignited fires in nearby surroundings. This additional layer of physical harm has resulted in personal injury product liability lawsuits as well.
Why E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens Explode
E-cigarettes and vape pens run on lithium-ion batteries. The batteries consist of a heating coil and an electrolyte. When that electrolyte overheats, it can reach a boiling point. Pressure then increases inside the battery until the battery casing blows apart. Since the electrolyte is also a combustible material, sparks and fire result during the explosion.
The e-cigarette manufacturing industry has been largely unregulated to date. Vaping devices manufactured in the US typically produce higher-quality products under better standards. Most e-cigarette manufacturers–including those produced by US companies–are based in China where manufacturing standards and oversight can be lax. Counterfeit brands also abound, leading to inferior products that can (and do) fail.
E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens Need Better Product Warnings
Besides poor manufacturing, e-cigarettes and vape pens can explode through normal use due to ineffective hazard warnings. Charging an e-cigarette or vape pen battery comes with known inherent risks.
Overcharging a battery can lead to overheating and exploding. Manufacturers do warn against this practice, but questions remain about the sufficiency of the warnings versus the risks. Given the complexity of determining if proper warnings were given or if the product is defective, one should contact a product liability attorney if injured by these products.
Using an unofficial or incompatible charger also present a significant risk of overheating. Not all chargers have the same output even if they plug into a vaping device. Too high a charge can lead to overheating of the batteries, with the expected results. Compatibility and the responsibility of determining compatibility can be complex and confusing.
New data is also pointing to increased health risks associated with vape pens and e-cigarettes. While no tobacco is burned or inhaled with these devices, a number of chemicals are. A host of chemicals associated with health and safety risks comprise the typical materials used in vaping and include nicotine, diacetyl (linked to lung disease), volatile organic compounds like benzene, and even heavy metals like lead, nickel, and tin. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not even have the authority of regulating e-cigarettes until 2016, and recent changes in the administration delayed their efforts at developing regulations.
Exploding E-Cigarettes and Vape Cause Injuries
While the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are becoming more known, the immediate impact of an exploding battery displays the dangers instantly. Victims of exploding batteries experience damaged and broken teeth, soft tissue damage, and deep burns that often require surgery and skin grafting. Nearly 80% of victims experience some kind of flame burn, and 33% receive chemical burns from caustic chemicals inside the batteries.
The recovery can include ongoing doctor care, hospitalization, and surgery–with all the significant financial costs associated with them. Most injuries occur to the face and hands due to normal use of the product, and to the leg and groin areas since people often keep the devices in their pockets. The emotional toll from the pain and disfigurement cannot be calculated.
In July 2017, the US Fire Administration published a report on the growing risks and hazards of e-cigarettes and vape pens. As the evidence of the dangers increase, more consumers are considering filing product liability lawsuits. Indeed, product liability law firms have expanded their efforts in this area to hold manufacturers accountable.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of product liability negligence, contact the defective product lawyers at The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP today. We have over 48 years of experience handling personal injury product liability lawsuits on behalf of our clients and we can help you get the compensation you deserve.