Question

Can I sue if my vaporizer (vape pen) exploded or caught fire in Michigan or another state?

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Wolfgang Mueller - Personal Injury - Products - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Wolfgang Mueller

Located in Farmington Hills, MIMueller Law Firm

Farmington Hills, MI
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Answer

Vaporizers, also called vape pens and e-cigarettes, entered the market as a smoking alternative. Smokers can fill the vape pen with a liquid nicotine “juice,” or even THC or CBD oil. Unfortunately, these devices can also explode without warning. If you suffered an injury in Michigan or any other state as a direct result of a vape pen battery exploding or catching fire, you may have grounds for a product liability case.

You have three potentially negligent parties you can sue: the manufacturer, the importer and the retailer that sold you the battery. Most vaporizer components, including batteries, are manufactured in China, which has few safety standards. The distant location of these manufacturers makes legal action difficult. However, it is entirely possible to file a product liability lawsuit against an importer or a retailer, such as a vape shop.

Both manufacturers and retailers are often aware of the dangers of vaporizer batteries, but rarely warn consumers. Your attorney will need to establish that the retailer had notice of the defective nature of the batteries and sold them to you without warning you about the potential dangers. 

The Problem With Vaporizer Batteries

The batteries used in vape pens were intended for other purposes and do not work properly in vaporizers. Most vaporizer batteries are lithium ion and are susceptible to igniting — in effect, becoming a small bomb — when they come into contact with coins, keys or other metal objects in your pocket. This can produce an electrical short, leading to what is known as a “thermal runaway” explosion. In addition, USB chargers can overcharge the battery (especially if they’re left charging overnight or in a car), making them more likely to catch fire or explode. These explosions are unpredictable and there is rarely any warning.

Manufacturers can produce these batteries with protective circuitry that minimizes the chances of an explosion, but they choose to skip this extra expense and continue to build unsafe batteries. Retailers continue to sell them, knowing the risk. An effective product liability lawyer can help you establish how your injury occurred and demonstrate that the vape pen battery was responsible for your injuries.

Your Injuries May Be Eligible For Compensation

Vaporizer battery explosions can cause painful and disfiguring third-degree burns, which can require skin grafts and specialized medical care to heal properly. These scars can be permanent. Victims of vape pen battery explosions may also require excruciating debridement surgery to remove dead, damaged skin.

People injured in Michigan or elsewhere may include in their lawsuit a request for compensation to pay medical bills for burn treatment, surgeries and related procedures. The lawsuits may also seek lost income if the person could not work while they were recovering. Lawsuits can also claim estimated lost future wages if the injuries will permanently affect a person’s ability to work. And plaintiffs can seek damages for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering, although these losses are harder to calculate. In some states, plaintiffs can also recover punitive damages.

Find Help Suing For Damages

Your best choice of attorney with a product liability case is a lawyer who has a background in both personal injury law and engineering or manufacturing. The size of your award or settlement can often hinge on how well your attorney documents the manner in which the defective product caused your injuries and how the defendants’ negligence is responsible. Your attorney should also be skilled at presenting forensic evidence related to the accident and employing the appropriate experts, if necessary, to back up your claims.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured by an exploding vape pen battery or device, contact an experienced attorney to find out more information and take appropriate action.

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.

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