When Kailani Burton bought her 17-year-old son a vape pen, she did so with the best of intentions: she wanted her son to stop smoking. What she did not anticipate was that the pen would explode in her son’s mouth, forcing her to drive 200 miles from her home to the closest trauma center for treatment. She did not expect the explosion to be powerful enough to blow out a 2-centimeter piece of her son’s jawbone and several of his bottom teeth. She did not expect her son to need a plate in his jaw.
But that is what happened. And it isn’t the first time.
Per a study published in BMJ, “From 2015 to 2017, there were an estimated 2035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries presenting to US hospital emergency departments.”
- This doesn’t account for anything reported in the last 18 months.
- This doesn’t include injuries that did not necessitate a trip to an emergency department.
- There is currently no set formula for tracking these types of incidents and injuries.
The short version is this: thousands of e-cigarette and vape pen injuries have been reported, and the chances are excellent that there are many, many more injuries that have not been.
Why do e-cigs and vape pens keep exploding?
In this particular story, the explosion was related to the battery. Most of the examples are linked to the lithium-ion batteries, which can overheat. The New York Times also suggested the problem “can be caused by product defects, or by a short circuit of the battery, when they are in contact with metal objects — for example, keys or coins….” Even the Food & Drug Administration is vague about the causes.
The paper also cited the Mass General Research Institute blog, which found that closed system vapes (the ones with pre-filled cartridges) are less risky than open system vapes (the ones you fill with your own choice of liquid) because of a lack of regulatory oversight. (The entire blog post is both compelling and frightening; you can read it here.)
Other risks posed by electronic cigarettes and vape pens
One of the primary reasons people start vaping is to quit smoking cigarettes. They believe, as Ms. Burton did, that it is a safer, healthier alternative.
But it isn’t.
Aside from the risk of life-altering explosion and burn injuries, vape pens and e-cigs pose significant dangers when it comes to toxic inhalation. The liquid still contains nicotine, so the highly addictive qualities are there. They also contain substances like formaldehyde acrolein and methylglyoxal, which are potentially carcinogenic. And many of these companies have either outright targeted minors – or, by their silence, been complicit in minors promoting the use of their products on personal social media pages and sites.
Your rights if you are injured by an exploding vape pen
If you used a vape pen or electronic cigarette and suffered burn injuries, you may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer through a product liability lawsuit. When you come to your consultation, bring the remains of the pen or cigarette, as well as copies of your medical records and any photos you have of your injuries. From there, we can investigate whether or not the device you used was defective in some way. If it was, or if the packaging on the device failed to warn you about potential risks from using a vape pen or e-cig, we can help you file a claim to cover your medical costs, any lost wages, and your pain and suffering, among other losses.
There are some things you need to know, though, about your potential claim. First, you only have 2 years to file the claim, so it is important that you speak with an experienced Phoenix injury lawyer quickly.
Second, Arizona has placed restrictions on product liability claims: if you are responsible in some way for your injuries, the total amount of your award could be reduced. Furthermore, if you are only seeking economic damages, you must be able to prove that you were exposed to an “unreasonable risk.”
That being said, having an e-cigarette that is touted as safe to use suddenly blow up in your face seems pretty unreasonable to us. That is why the attorneys of Plattner Verderame, P.C. will keep fighting on behalf of injured vape pen users throughout Arizona, and keep advocating for better, stricter regulations. To learn more about our services, or to schedule a consultation at our office in Phoenix, please call 602-266-2002 or contact us today.