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Noland Law Firm, LLC Legal Blog

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Vaping: The New Frontier of Personal Injury

Can a lawsuit be filed for an injury caused by an exploding e-cigarette?

Over the years, the number of cigarette smokers has dramatically declined. This is good news in light of the fact that tobacco products are known to cause cancer and a host of other health problems. Nonetheless, there are alternative delivery systems for nicotine and herbal products: electronic or e-cigarettes.

Currently, there is no evidence one way or the other that demonstrates e-cigarettes are safer than smoking tobacco. However, vaping may be tragically hip as there have been numerous reports of people being injured by explosions. Devices have exploded in users' pants pockets, causing serious burns, as well as while being inhaled, leading to significant facial and oral injuries.  

What causes e-cigarettes to explode?

Electronic cigarettes are operated by batteries which heat a liquid comprised of nicotine or other herbs and chemicals. A electrical charge heats the liquid until it vaporizes. This is then inhaled by the user, which is why it is called "vaping."  However, lithium-ion batteries are prone to exploding.

These batteries are used not only in e-cigarettes, but also in many other consumer products including Hoverboards, laptops, and smartphones. The batteries in these products have also caused fires. There were scattered reports of Hoverboards catching fire when they were first introduced and the saga of the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7s made headlines late last year. In fact, the company was eventually forced to recall 2.5 million Note 7 devices.

Exploding e-cigarettes pose an even greater threat, and the explosions are being caused by both design and manufacturing defects - two main elements for a product liability lawsuit suit.

First, e-cigarettes have a cylindrical shape, and the weakest structural points are at each end. If the battery fails, the device can easily explode due to this design flaw. In short, lithium-ion batteries contain solutions of electrolytes that are highly flammable. Once the solution overheats and reaches its boiling point, it rapidly expands and burns, causing the battery, and the device, to explode with tremendous force. The batteries in e-cigarettes may also explode due to a manufacturing defect, either a punctured cell or a short circuit.

At this juncture, it remains to be seen whether lawmakers will take action to more strictly regulate e-cigarettes or ban them outright. In the meantime, if you were seriously injured by an exploding vaping device, you should engage the services of an experienced personal injury attorney.


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