The Hazard of Exploding E-Cigarettes and the Responsibility of Manufacturers
Advancements in technology are coming at a rate never before seen in human history as some new update or device is released on a daily basis. As a society, people now expect new developments to make their lives easier and/or given them tools to live longer and healthier. Given the rapid pace with which companies are releasing new products into the marketplace, it is often not entirely possible to fully and thoroughly test the safety and effectiveness of each device, especially when problems do not emerge until much later. Unfortunately, this leaves the consumer with the risk of using a product with safety risks that are unknown or lack adequate warning labels and can lead to product liability claims when injuries take place. Electronic cigarettes, or E-cigarettes as they are popularly known, fall into the class of recent technological devices that have injured users, and despite claims of being a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, now appear to pose health risks. Not knowing if a product has a tendency to malfunction or break poses a significant danger to users that manufacturers must respond to or face potential liability.
Risks Posed by E-Cigarettes
According to a report compiled by the U.S. Fire Administration, reports of injuries involving E-cigarettes began in 2009, which are typically caused by fires and explosions that occur when the lithium ion battery fails or overheats during use or while charging. The lithium battery is used as a power source to heat the liquid vapor, but heating process is susceptible to overworking the battery, leading it expand and rupture. These explosions can cause significant injury to users, including second degree burns and the loss of teeth. Injuries are most commonly seen on the user’s hands, arms, mouth and face as the explosion propels the device outward. An example of how dangerous these incidents are happened earlier this year when a woman in southwest Florida had an E-cigarette explode in her mouth and sustained injuries that required hospitalization. In addition, the explosion was so great it caused her rental car to erupt in flames and ultimately burn down to the metal frame.
Grounds for a Product Liability Claim
Exploding E-cigarettes typically have two possible legal theories an injured party could make to hold the manufacturer liable in a product liability case. First, the injured party could claim the product contains an inherent design defect that makes it unreasonably dangerous and hazardous to users. This theory is used when the defect is found all of the company’s products, and since the instability of battery is due to the design and construction of the device, this claim could be applicable. Second, an injured party could also claim the manufacturer did not provide adequate warning of the potential dangers posed by the product. Any company in the supply and distribution chain could be liable if proper warnings or instructions could have prevented the injury. It is worth noting that any recovery a plaintiff receives in a product liability case will be reduced in proportion to the degree they were at fault for their injuries due to improper use, but they will not be completely barred from collecting damages.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured due to the malfunction or defect of a product purchased from a retail store or manufacturer, it is important to talk to an lawyer about the strength of a potential claim against the manufacturer (or others) for product liability. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado has extensive experience in this complex area of the law, and can help you hold the manufacturer responsible. Contact us for a free consultation.