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Injured by a Vape Pen – What You Can Do

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.

How Common Are Vape Pen Injuries?

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. 

What or Who is to Blame for Vape Pen Injuries?

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:

Design Flaws by the Manufacturer

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. 

Defects in Battery Charger Accessories

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.

User Error and Misinformation in the News

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.

Rushing the Safe Rollout of Vape Products

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:

  • Using cheaper safety elements to save millions of dollars in the large-scale production
  • Using a cheaper battery

Ways to File a Vaping Lawsuit

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:

  • Personal injury lawsuit, which is filed if someone gets hurt or sick and feels another party is at fault. 
  • Class-action lawsuit, which is jointly filed by many people who have experienced the same injuries or sickness. For instance, there have been several class-action lawsuits filed against the JUUL vape pen company, among others. 
  • Wrongful death lawsuit, which is filed by the family of the victim whose vape pen injury resulted in death.

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:

  • Represent the client with the client’s best interests in mind
  • Build a strong case, based on the situation of the lawsuit
  • Communicate with each client every step of the way
  • File the claim flawlessly and by the required deadline
  • Keep the client updated on all settlement options

Ways That Lawsuit Compensation Can Help Victims of a Vape Pen Injury

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:

  • Wages lost from recovery time
  • Income lost if the plaintiff is not able to return to work at all because of the injury
  • Any medical bills accumulated from the injury
  • Any pain, suffering, or emotional distress experienced as a result of the injury

What is Next for Safety Requirements for Vape Company Manufacturers?

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.