As the popularity of traditional tobacco products has continued its steep decline, the market for e-cigarettes has expanded at a rapid rate, particularly among younger demographic groups. These innovative devices work by turning liquefied nicotine preparations into vapors that can be inhaled, accomplishing this feat most typically with the aid of lithium ion battery power. The “vaping” industry itself has grown by leaps and bounds since its widespread appearance on the American scene in 2007 and now represents approximately $7 billion in sales each year. While e-cigarettes have been heralded by users as offering a healthy alternative to the carcinogenic composition of their more conventional counterparts, consumer advocates and safety watchdog groups have warned that they do in fact pose serious risks of their own. Explosion injuries, lung ailments, nicotine poisoning and burns are a few of the dangers about which alarm bells have increasingly begun to sound. Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal invites anyone who has been harmed by an e-cigarette to explore their legal options and possibly pursue financial compensation from negligent e-cigarette manufacturers or other responsible parties.
“Vapes,” as e-cigarettes are widely known, are a newer type of electronic system for the delivery of nicotine to users that involves the heating of a chemical vapor that mimics the appearance of smoke. These devices incorporate heating elements which work to vaporize the nicotine solution, with some mechanisms automatically engaging the heating coil system the instant a user drags on the e-cigarette. The lion's share of commercially available devices have integrated timing features meant to halt overheating, with some also featuring locks that stop the devices from being turned on inadvertently while in a purse or a pocket. Most vapes are powered by lithium-ion batteries which, under certain circumstances, pose a real risk of explosion. Heat-related battery explosions can occur for a number of reasons, including:
- battery overcharge
- short circuiting
- external sources of high heat
- cell faults from within
Explosion and Burn Injuries Caused by E-Cigarettes
Sadly, the potential benefits of e-cigarettes are frequently outweighed by the dangers posed by explosion injuries that can include severe impact injuries. Malfunctioning vapes have the potential to explode without warning, producing catastrophic injury, disfigurement and scarring to a user's face, tongue and fingers. Some victims have reported amputations, blindness, tooth loss and other profound physical harm directly resulting from vaping gone wrong. In addition to these explosion-related wounds, burns and related fire damage can quickly transform an e-cigarette from a seemingly harmless habit into an unintended instrument of real destruction.
Another potential danger involved in vaping stems from the chemically-based flavoring used to manufacture popular types of e-cigarettes. A recent study found that roughly three-fourths of all flavored e-cigarette products as well as the liquid refills sold alongside them contain diacetyl, a substance believed to cause a respiratory disorder known as bronchiolitis obliterans, often referred to as “popcorn lung.”
The illness itself is characterized by a scarring of the lungs that ultimately results in breathing difficulties and other symptoms that can include:
- shortness of breath
- night sweats
- unintended weight loss
While many vaping enthusiasts are aware of the possibility of battery overheating and subsequent explosion of their e-cigarette devices, far fewer seem to have an understanding of the risk of popcorn lung arising from their use of these products.
Nicotine Liquid Poisoning
On top of the hazards already outlined with regard to e-cigarette use, vaping aficionados need to understand the simple fact that the liquid nicotine so central to their pleasurable experience can, in some instances, prove deadly in short order. A mere teaspoon of the substance has the ability to kill a young child, and accidental deaths caused by ingesting the contents of “juice” cartridges have been reported both in the United States and abroad.
Damages Potentially Available in E-Cigarette Lawsuits
Given the variety of ways in which users of e-cigarettes may suffer serious injury or worse, the compensation potentially available to those who successfully file suit is often significant. Categories of monetary recovery may include payment for:
- medical bills past, present and future
- ongoing costs of therapy or rehabilitation
- physical pain and discomfort
- emotional distress
- permanent disfigurement
- lost wages
- reduced future earning potential
- lost enjoyment of life
- financial support for surviving dependents
- funeral costs, where applicable
As is true of all personal injury matters, a detailed investigation of the facts of each case and meticulous evidence gathering efforts are essential to building the strongest possible arguments for compensation.
Safe Handling of E-Cigarettes
While regulatory authorities, manufacturers and legislatures across the country are exploring ways in which e-cigarette sales and use can be made safer, it pays for those who enjoy vaping to familiarize themselves with some useful tips and precautions, such as:
- purchasing chargers and adapter equipment only from original manufacturers and not aftermarket providers
- purchasing vape pens and e-cigarette devices exclusively from well-known makers with solid reputations for quality and safety
- avoiding the use of computers and similar USB-accessible devices for charging devices that may not be compatible so as to prevent battery overheating
- never charging or stowing e-cigarette devices near highly flammable materials
- charging e-cigarette components only when awake and present to monitor the process
Pursuing Compensation Following Your E-Cigarette Injury
While the concept of vaping as a means to avoid some of the most detrimental effects of smoking conventional cigarettes is indeed a laudable and promising one, that is not to say that the activity is wholly without risk. Though device malfunctions are relatively uncommon, when they do occur, the outcomes can be truly catastrophic in nature. Fortunately, the law provides victims of defective products such as e-cigarettes and their various components the ability to pursue significant financial compensation for losses sustained.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a electronic cigarette or liquid nicotine pack, there is no reason to delay the process of seeking full accountability from those responsible. Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is prepared to uncover the facts underlying the harm you have suffered and aggressively advocate for your rights. For a no-obligation initial review of your case, we invite you to call 303.825.2223.