Lithium-ion batteries used in electronic cigarettes have gained notoriety
for causing catastrophic injuries to people. These batteries can explode
when they undergo uncontrollable overheating, a process known as a thermal
runaway effect. However, due to the design of e-cigarette batteries, thermal
runaway effects are more likely to cause injuries when they occur. Many
batteries in e-cigarettes are cylindrical, meaning flames can shoot out
from both ends. In addition, people may be using the devices when they
undergo uncontrollable heating.
The University of Washington Regional Burn Center (UW Burn Center) treated
15 people for injuries caused by e-cigarette explosions. They compiled
these cases into a paper published in the
New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Although the number of victims mentioned in the paper is small,
it does describe the types of injuries caused by exploding e-cigarette
batteries. Victims of e-cigarette explosions have suffered injuries that include:
Burn injuries caused by flames: The UW Burn Center claims 80 percent of e-cigarette injuries are caused
by exposure to flames. Some of these victims suffered disfiguring
third-degree burns that required skin grafts.
Chemical burns: According to a report released by the UW Burn Center, 33 percent of victims
suffered chemical burns. Hydrofluoric acid used in these batteries can
spread on the skin and continue causing damage even after the flames have
Blast injuries: E-cigarettes may explode while they are being used. Some victims have
suffered blast injuries to the face. In one case reported by the UW Burn
Center, a young man had his teeth blown out when an e-cigarette exploded
in his mouth. These types of injuries are not uncommon. In another case
not mentioned by the NEJM paper, an exploding e-cigarette battery blew
a hole in the victim’s tongue.
Can I File an E-Cigarette Lawsuit?
These are not minor injuries, and some people injured by exploding batteries
have suffered permanent disfigurement and other complications.
Product liability lawsuits have been filed against e-cigarette retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.
Most e-cigarettes are produced overseas in China, but some are made domestically.
In addition, many retailers and wholesalers are based in the United States.
Depending on the circumstances, people who were injured by exploding e-cigarettes
may be able to file lawsuits against these parties. Damages from an e-cigarette
lawsuit can help pay for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one were harmed by a defective product, the
Washington DC product liability attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC can help you discover available legal options.