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E-Cigarette Battery Fires and Explosions

E-cigarettes, also called e-cigs or vapes, turn liquefied nicotine solutions into inhalable vapor using high-powered lithium-ion batteries. Vape devices and accessories have created a massive industry that produces $7 billion in annual sales.

What many of the 2.5 million American e-cig users don’t know is that the batteries attached to their devices can explode, causing serious and permanent injury. If you or someone you love was injured or disfigured by a vape explosion or fire, you might be entitled to compensation. Our product liability lawyers have extensive experience helping e-cig injury victims take on big corporations, and we’re ready to help you get started today.

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We Still Know Very Little About E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are a relatively new product category, and the term itself is a broad definition for an entire class of devices. There are several different shapes and configurations of e-cigarettes. This category can include anything from e-cigs to personal vaporizers (PVs) and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

Regardless of the specific setup of a product, all e-cigarettes are battery-powered to simulate the effects of tobacco smoking. Since the battery-powered device requires heat and pressure to simulate the same effect, it is possible for defective devices to explode or cause fires.

The primary issue with electronic cigarettes is that there are plenty of misconceptions about the devices. We still know very little about the long-term effects and potential health issues linked to vaping devices. It is foolish to assume that using an electronic device is safer or smarter than traditional tobacco products like cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have only been available for sale in the United States since 2007. Since that time, their popularity has ramped up quickly, including an alarming number of young people partaking in the habit. (A ban on the manufacture and sale of most flavored e-cigs, going into effect in May 2020, seeks to make vaping less appealing to younger customers.)

There are well over 2.5 million e-cigarette smokers alone in the United States, making use of hundreds of brands and thousands of flavors to satisfy any palette. Sales of e-cig devices total more than $3 billion a year, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Unfortunately, the dangers of e-cigs are not very well documented or understood by consumers.

E-Cigarette Accident Dangers

Electronic cigarettes use an electric heating element, called an atomizer or cartomizer, to vaporize a liquid solution in the device. The liquid solution, or e-juice, is a mixture of nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and other flavorings. While some claim the e-juice is healthier compared to smoking regular cigarettes, there isn’t any factual evidence to back up these claims.

There are two types of vaping devices: those with an automatic heating coil that require a switch to energize the heating element of the device when a user takes a drag, and manual devices. While most devices have built-in timeout features to prevent overheating, there are clear hazards from e-cigarette battery explosion or fires.

There were close to 200 reported e-cigarette fire and explosion incidents in the United States from 2009 to 2016. Of those 195 separate e-cigarette accidents, 68 percent involved acute injuries. However, no deaths were reported during the study period.

Most vaping injuries were linked to devices or spare batteries that were in users’ pockets (61 accidents) as well as incidents in which the device was being used at the time of the explosion or fire (60 accidents). The third leading cause was when the device was being charged (48 incidents).

Vaping injuries are generally tied to fire and explosion (68 percent). Several of those incidents resulted in severe injury to an individual who required hospitalization. Some suffered a loss of a body part, third-degree burns, or facial injuries. Moderate injuries generally resulted in an ER visit to treat smoke inhalation, second-degree burns, or lacerations that required stitches.

In general, the dangers associated with electronic cigarettes are primarily dependent on how close the device is to an individual at the time of an explosion. Severe injuries are likely when the device is in the mouth, near the face, or in a pocket when it explodes.

The Threat of E-Cigarette Battery Explosion & Fire

The media tends to report most e-cigarette accidents as an explosion. However, is this an accurate description of what happens?

Though there is a brief period of overheating and off-gassing when a device explodes, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause, as no other consumer product on the market puts lithium-ion batteries so close to a human body.

An e-cigarette battery explosion typically consists of a loud noise, a flash of light, smoke, flames, and harsh ejection of the battery. There are reports by the media that state the battery and other components were ejected under pressure at such velocity that the product “flew across the room.” The explosion ignited combustible items where the battery landed in certain instances.

According to the previously-mentioned 2009-2016 study, 66 percent of e-cig accidents resulted in an e-cigarette battery explosion, which ignited nearby contents like clothing, carpets, furniture, or drapes. Most people were able to extinguish the fire quickly, though because some accidents started while the device was charging, it is plausible the device could start a more severe fire.

Vape Battery Fires and Explosions

Vape manufacturers aren’t required to add consumer warnings to product packaging, and e-cigarettes and accessories aren’t required to undergo safety testing before being made available for purchase.

This may put people who vape in danger, as the lithium-ion polymer batteries that power the devices may be prone to failure. The batteries have a cylindrical shape, like the barrel of a gun. The ends of the battery—the weakest point of the structure—can rupture, releasing pressure strong enough to shoot fragments across a room. Battery failures and explosions can happen at any time, including while devices are unattended or charging, which can increase the risk of a house fire.

E-Cigarette Fire and Explosion Injuries

Injuries that may be caused by e-cigarette fires and explosions include:

  • Facial and limb scarring
  • Loss of fingers
  • Severe burns
  • Vision damage or blindness

If you’ve suffered injuries from an e-cigarette explosion, you may find yourself facing lasting pain, physical damage, and financial burden. This is not something you need to face on your own. Our attorneys will review your case for free and help fight for the compensation you’re owed for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Get Help From Our E-Cigarette Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective e-cigarette or vape device, you’re not alone. There are strict deadlines to file an injury claim, so don’t wait to get the help you need. Our defective product lawyers are ready to talk to you about your e-cig case. Contact our legal team now for help protecting your rights.

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