Vape Pen Explosion Injury – What Happens Next?

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William Brown of Texas was just one of a number of individuals who have died using vape pens. After taking the device in to get it looked at, the battery exploded. This has been identified as a trend in the United States, with 196 vape pen explosions and fire incidents between 2009 and 2016. In the case of William Brown, shrapnel from the e-cigarette severed his left carotid artery – a major source of blood to the brain. This left Brown severely injured with cerebral infarction and herniation. 

Brown was rushed to the hospital from the vape shop parking lot where the incident occurred and placed in a medical coma for his injuries. Much of the device remained lodged in his throat, causing an extreme threat to his life. He would eventually pass away from a stroke days later in the hospital.

The severity of these incidents is extreme as the devices are close to victims’ heads when they explode in most cases. One particular story concerning a central-Florida man seized headlines due to the nature of his death. Shrapnel propelled by the explosion of his vape battery sent material into his head, killing him almost instantaneously.

Vape pens have been marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes for years now. Despite this claim, a new risk has been presented to the American public that has nothing to do with the traditional risks of smoking. Recent news has shown that e-cigarettes have the potential to injure – or even kill – those smoking the novel nicotine devices.

E-Cig Explodes in Mouth of Nevada Teen

Similarly, a rural Nevada teenager by the name of Austin Adams was driven nearly five hours to the hospital when his e-cigarette exploded, shattering his jaw and knocking out a number of teeth. The lower portion of his jaw was determined to be cracked down the center of his chin. Adams additionally suffered burns around his mouth and left holes in his gums. Doctors commented that the tissue in and around his mouth “kind of got vaporized.” 

Vape pen explosions have been known to cause a number of different types of injuries to victims. 

  • Broken or fractured bones and teeth
  • Lacerations and excessive bleeding 
  • Blindness
  • Loss of appendages 
  • Scarring
  • Blistering, burns 

Only shortly before Adams’ incident in 2019 did the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) finalize a guide for manufacturers in regard to the batteries they use in their e-cigarettes. They recommend that the manufacturing companies give detailed information about their batteries and action plans for explosions, fires, and similar events. Many critics think that these “guidelines” and “recommendations” do not go far enough and have done a poor job of protecting consumers such as Adams. 

Vape Pen Injury Statistics 

Some of the primary issues with e-cigarettes involve the combination of a lithium-ion battery and the vape pen itself. This combination is categorized by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) as “a new and unique hazard” that poses the “risk of a severe, acute injury.” 

Out of the 195 separate incidents between January 2009 and December 31, 2016, 133 of them were designated as “acute injuries.” Of those, 29% were labeled “severe” and had long-lasting implications on the lives of the victim. Although the incidence of death is uncommon, there have still been reports of individuals dying from e-cigarette explosions. 

Furthermore, data suggests that the devices are more likely to explode during or shortly after use. 62% of explosion and fire incidents involving vape pens occurred while the devices were in-use or used shortly before and placed in the victim’s pocket. Pockets may pose additional risks as they are able to insulate the heat and provide a flammable material for e-cigarettes that ignite.

The Aftermath of a Vape Pen Explosion Injury

The fallout of a vape pen explosion injury can be quite severe. The first things that most victims have to deal with are lengthy medical examinations, surgeries, and similar procedures. Victims subsequently may be saddled with plenty of expenses and debt as a result of their injuries. 

Despite using the products as a willing consumer, it is rarely the fault of the victim in the case of an exploding vape pen. As previously discussed, many problems have arisen in the public sphere due to the use of lithium-ion batteries in conjunction with e-cigarette devices.

Many victims choose to take the route of hiring an attorney and filing a claim. Due to the faulty nature of many of these products, liability for a victim’s injuries may fall to the manufacturer for defective design. This would be pursued with the help of an attorney who will be able to best recommend what path someone should take while filing a claim. Certain victims, for example, may be better suited to join an ongoing class action lawsuit. Others may benefit more from a direct claim with the manufacturer. 

Previous Court Decisions

Previous rulings may prove favorable for victims filing suits against manufacturers and retailers. 2021 saw the end of a one-day suit against Vapor Life LLC and Vapor Life 5 LLC. The plaintiff, Manuel Ortega, suffered third-degree burns from his vape pen. The pen was only a month old and idle in his pocket when it exploded, leaking acid and setting his flesh alight. 

Ortega claimed that there was a design fault in the e-cig as it lacked adequate thermal protection. The issue caused the public to point to the previously passed FDA guidelines for batteries in critique. By the end of the first day of trial, Ortega was awarded $21,000 for the medical bills he incurred after the accident. The jury additionally ordered that Vapor Life pay $5 million in past pain and suffering and $10 million for future pain and suffering, leaving Ortega with a grand total of over $15 million in compensation for the incident. 

The cases of Brown, Adams, and Ortega are just a few in the grand number of people who have fallen victim to combusting vape pens in the United States. Legal action against negligent manufacturers and retailers is of great importance due to just how life-changing an incident with these types of devices can be.