In February, an Arizona woman got into her truck and was leaving work when something that “looked like fireworks started to explode in [her] lap,” as she told AZ Family. Melissa Madsen’s e-cigarette had malfunctioned and exploded. To escape the flames, she jumped out of her moving vehicle. The ordeal ended with her own truck running her over, breaking both her hips, in addition to the second-degree burns on her legs and thighs. Other e-cigarette and vape pen explosions have hit headlines in the last few years.
Back in 2016, Quartz did an in-depth investigation into what causes e-cigarettes to blow up unexpectedly. The problem has many factors, ranging from faulty batteries to the highly fragmented market of the Chinese manufacturers. One of the main issues is the customization options for vape pens. These larger e-cigarettes allow users to switch out components to alter the vapor’s flavor and intensity. Personalization is desirable to consumers, but with so many manufacturers creating parts, not all components are universally compatible with each other. The mix and match approach can have dangerous consequences when modifications are applied incorrectly.
What does this have to do with lawyers, you ask? Well, we’ve talked before about product liability laws, which determine who is responsible when products are faulty or cause injury. It’s important for victims to speak up, as lawsuits and recalls draw attention to flaws and help regulate manufacturing. Cases of exploding e-cigarettes are no exception.
However, e-cigarettes and vape pens also present an example of one argument often used against victims in personal injury cases. Since some authorities claim the fires and explosions can result from users ignorantly or incorrectly combining components that weren’t designed for each other, is the user to blame? After all, they put the pieces together themselves, not the seller or manufacturer. This logic can deter victims from pursuing a case, assuming the tragedy was their fault.
Reality is more complicated. As one e-cigarette user told Quartz, “Irresponsible and lazy sellers are pretty much just as responsible as uninformed/irresponsible users.” Determining liability depends on many variables, and if the seller or manufacturer did not make the instructions and risks clear to users, they share the responsibility when something goes wrong. There’s a reason we have lengthy disclaimers and waivers on certain products or services. Labeling exactly how to remove and charge batteries, which components are compatible with which vape pens, and what scenarios increase the risk of explosion are all the responsibility of the seller and manufacturer.
As the U.S. struggles to regulate the electronic cigarette market, it’s important for victims of injuries resulting from these products to step forward. Contact a personal injury attorney at Bellah Perez, PLLC today at 602-252-993 to assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.