If you were seriously burned by an exploding e-cigarette (also, personal vaporizer or “vape”), you may have a claim against the manufacturers of the vape device and battery, and possibly others. This means you can sue for money damages, which should include amounts for:
- pain and suffering
- medical expenses
- lost wages
- loss of quality of life
- emotional distress
- other losses resulting from your injuries.
What is a Vape and Why Does it Explode?
A vape (e-cigarette) is an electronic nicotine delivery system that produces a heated vapor, resembling smoke. They have been for sale in the United States since 2007. Now, more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. are using them.
The devices have a heating element used to vaporize a liquid solution, sometimes called “juice.” Some vapes activate the heating coil automatically when a user takes a drag from the device. Some are manual. Most manufactured devices have built-in timeout features that prevent overheating, and many have locking features to prevent the switch from being activated in a pocket or purse. The energy used to generate this heat is obtained from a battery, generally a cylindrical lithium-ion battery.
Lithium-ion batteries are made with alternating layers of metallic anode and cathode material separated by a porous film. The porous separator film holds a liquid electrolyte which is generally flammable or combustible. If the lithium-ion battery overheats, the flammable electrolyte may explode. Overheating can be caused by one of the following:
- overcharge of the battery
- external heat
- short circuit
- internal cell fault.
Burns and Other Injuries
From 2009 to 2014, the U.S. Fire Administration found “25 reports [in the media] of explosion and fire involving an e-cigarettes. Nine injuries and no deaths were reported with these 25 incidents. Two of the injuries were serious burns” (1). We found several other reports of serious injury in 2015 and 2016 (see list below).
From CBS Local News (2):
Evan Spahliner, 21, was put into a medically-induced coma after his electronic cigarette exploded while he was smoking it.
“I found my brother not breathing with his whole face burned and his neck burned,” his sister, Jenny, told CBS2.
Jennifer Ries was also injured from an e-cigarette when it burst into flames as she was charging it in her car. Reis’ dress caught on fire, and she suffered burns on her thighs and buttocks.
“The battery started shooting fire toward me and then exploded and shot the metal pieces onto my lap,” Ries said.
Below is a list of some of the vape explosions in the United States that have caused serious injury. If you are aware of another incident or if you want a free case review, please contact our law firm at 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or use our free case consultation form.
- January 2017 – (Pocatello, Idaho) A man gets second-degree burns on his face and several teeth are blown out.
- January 2016 – (Jackson County, Indiana) A truck driver lost control of his big rig and crashed after his e-cigarette ignited (3). The man was taken to the hospital with facial injuries.
- November 2015- (Colorado Springs, CO) A man is seriously injured after a vape exploded in his face. Injuries included a broken neck, facial fractures, burns to his mouth and shattered teeth (4).
- October 2015 – (Naples, Florida) After a vape blew up, a man is found with his “whole face burned and his neck burned. The device went down his throat after the first explosion and exploded again” (5). He was placed in a medically induced coma.
- October 2015 – (Bakersfield, California) An e-cigarette blew up in a man’s face, damaging the mans mouth and index finger, which required amputation (6).
- September 2015 – (Cobb County, Georgia) An e-cigarette exploded in a man’s face, causing severe injuries. His father told Fox 5 News: “He had burns to his hand and a fractured neck and finger, and burns to his cornea. It blew a hole through his pallet and at the same time, flames went down and he got first-degree burns on his chest and up on his face. It forced his front tooth up into his gum- out of sight -and chipped the other one and damaged a few other lower teeth” (7).
- February 2015 – (Ramona, California) a man suffered burns and lacerations on his face after a vape blast (8).
- July 2013 – (Corona, California) Charging in car led to ‘blow torch’ fire. Debris flew into occupant’s lap, resulting in 2nd degree burns on upper thighs and lower buttocks (9).
- June 2013 – (Sherman, Texas) After a 2 hour charge, the battery blew up in user’s hand, resulting in 2nd and 3rd degree burns on a man’s hand and smoke inhalation (10).
- February 2012 – (Niceville, Florida) E-cigarette explodes in mouth causing severe burns, lost teeth and part of tongue (11). Some news stories report that the device may have been modified by the user.
- November 2011 – (Greely, Colorado) A man was hospitalized for 8 days after an electronic cigarette exploded in his face, sending burning debris and battery acid into his mouth, face and eyes (12).
Electronic Cigarettes Banned from Airplanes
In October of 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued an interim final rule (IFR) to prohibit passengers and crewmembers from carrying battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices (e.g. e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-cigars, e-pipes, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems) in checked baggage and prohibit passengers and crewmembers from charging the devices and/or batteries on board the aircraft.
“We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure” (13).
- “Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions.” U.S. Fire Administration, October 2014. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/electronic_cigarettes.pdf.