In June 2019, an e-cigarette exploded in the mouth of a 17-year-old boy from Nevada, breaking his jaw and destroying the sockets where his teeth once sat. In February 2019, a man in Texas died after his e-cigarette exploded and a piece sliced open an artery in his neck. Last year, a man in Texas died when a piece of his exploding e-cig entered his head.
Stories like these seem sensational, but they are not. People are seriously injured by exploding e-cigarettes, and it happens often. In a 2019 report published in Tobacco Control, researchers concluded that “There are more e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries in the USA than estimated in the past reports,” and that between 2015 and 2017, “there were an estimated 2035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries presenting to US hospital emergency departments.” Since researchers only looked at injuries that led to hospital visits, it is safe to assume that the overall number of injuries is, indeed, higher than expected.
What kinds of injuries do exploding e-cigarettes cause?
The most common injuries from e-cigs and vape pens – about 80%, per a report in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) – are burns to the hands, face, groin, and legs (from people carrying their devices in their pockets). These can occur even if the pen or device does not “explode,” per se, but instead overheats, or even catches on fire. Some of the burns may require hospitalization to treat and can necessitate skin grafts.
If the e-cig does explode in the more traditional meaning of the word, you can sustain even more severe injuries. Pieces of the device can embed themselves in your skin or slice open parts of your face or neck. In both fatal exploding e-cig events, it was shrapnel from the device that ultimately killed the users.
You can also sustain permanent vision loss or damage to your eyes if a piece of an exploding vape pen hits you. The chemicals contained in the liquid (“juice”) can be toxic, and you could also suffer chemical burns to the eyes. Approximately 33% of all exploding e-cigarette victims sustain some kind of chemical burn, per NJEM.
Some of the most serious risks involve damage to the bones in your face. The young man who broke his jaw now has a metal plate in his jawbone. “Blast injuries,” the NJEM explains, “have led to tooth loss, traumatic tattooing, and extensive loss of soft tissue, requiring operative débridement and closure of tissue defects.”
Why you need an attorney if you sustain injuries from an e-cigarette explosion or fire
If you sustain catastrophic injuries from a defective e-cigarette product, you should seek legal counsel, rather than try to file a claim on your own. Companies often employ or retain an army of lawyers who will be fighting for them, and attempting to compete with that type of opposition takes skill, resources, and experience.
When you work with a product liability lawyer, he or she will do more than just fight for you in negotiations or in trial. Your lawyer keeps your case organized and moving forward, informing you of when you need to be in court (if necessary) and what types of documentation you need to supply. Your lawyer can also keep any creditors at bay if you cannot work and will deal directly with your insurance companies so you do not have to deal with that additional stress. Remember, too, that hiring a lawyer does not automatically mean you have to go to trial. Many times, simply having a lawyer is enough to encourage an insurance company or manufacturer to offer a fairer, just settlement from the start. When they do not, or when they attempt to deny your claim or deny accountability, it is your attorney who will fight to uphold your rights under the law.
McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC has represented injury victims in South Carolina and nationwide for years. Our product liability lawyers understand what your rights are under the law and will fight to secure the best possible outcome for you. To learn more about our services, or to schedule a free consultation, please call 864-651-9295, or fill out our contact form.