Posted in Our Blog on September 5, 2022
A vape pen exploded like a gunshot inside a 21-year-old New Orleans man’s mouth in August 2018. He had picked up vaping over smoking cigarettes, but now faced several years of reconstructive surgery after his jaw was broken in three places, broken pieces of the vape pen were wedged inside his mouth, and most of his teeth were knocked out.
The man’s recovery from using the VGod brand vape pen also included coming back from the loss of work and earnings, loss of weight because he could only ingest liquids, increased bouts of depression, and a pileup of hospital bills totaling more than $300,000. He hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit.
Millions of people in the United States and worldwide use vape pens every day without any issues, but injuries are still possible and are increasing.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 35 cases of EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury) were reported in the state between August and January 2020 in those ranging from ages 17 to 71.
There may be more cases, however, that go unreported, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not officially track the number of vape pen injuries due to explosions. They just recently began recommending that manufacturers provide more information to consumers about the dangers of vape pens.
The lithium ion batteries (LIBs) found in vape pens, which fuel extremely hot fires, are known to be a common culprit for injuries and explosions.
The Louisiana Vaping Association states that LIBs can be corrupted or misused. Inside each LIB is a strip of polypropylene that keeps electrodes in the battery from making contact, but if the strip is damaged, the battery will quickly heat up, expand, and explode. As vape pen explosions increase in the news, like the one described in our first example, hopefully, more regulations will follow.
Here are several other factors to blame for vape pen injuries:
Vape pens, like cell phones and other electronic devices, are designed to be small and easy to slide into a shirt or pants pocket. They are not designed, however, with recessed buttons, so the device can be activated, pushed, and heated by accident.
Many vape pens nowadays can be plugged into a charger with a USB cable. Still, some vapers use a cheaper universal charger or carry spare batteries when a charger isn’t available nearby. These battery charger accessory options, however, may not meet the same vape manufacturer’s safety standards or only meet the voltage for some devices, not all.
Vape user error can be cited for the reason there are injuries from explosions as well, whether the person used the wrong charger or a spare battery, or made a non-standard modification to the device. On top of that, these user errors are not always reported as the true reason for vape pen explosions, which can be misleading when reported in the media.
Because new models of vape pens and LIBs, like most electronics, are released on the market fairly regularly, the competition among manufacturers to have the best product with the most capacity at the smallest size first could overshadow the importance of user safety.
Manufacturers could do this by:
With the guidance of a personal injury attorney, victims of a vape pen injury can file a lawsuit to receive financial compensation. There are a few types of vaping lawsuits that will depend on the victim’s situation, including:
An experienced attorney can help determine which type of lawsuit is best for the plaintiff to file. Typically, about 95 percent of these personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court, which is a faster process, versus going to a lengthier, riskier trial.
The attorney will:
For those who have experienced serious injuries, lung disease, or other sicknesses caused by vape pens, it could mean they are entitled to significant compensation from a lawsuit they – and their attorney – file.
It depends on the circumstances of the case, of course, but the compensation received by those who file a lawsuit could cover damages, such as:
While some vaping companies are starting to warn users of the dangers and risks of these devices they make and sell, vape pen injuries are still a problem in New Orleans and across the country.
By June 2021, there were 122 FDA warning letters sent to a number of small vaping manufacturers that did not submit Premarket Tobacco Applications (PMTAs) for some or all of their products by the FDA’s deadline.