Vaping devices do not process tobacco at all, although they may deliver nicotine to the user as cigarettes do. Vaping devices work by heating up oils or liquids that may or may not contain nicotine in a vaporizing device. The vaporizing device heats the oils or liquids and produces steam, not smoke. It is the steam, or vapor, that is inhaled by the user. Thus, if the oil or liquid contains nicotine, the user is able to inhale a nicotine dosage without smoking tobacco. The nicotine in vaping oil or liquid is, however, just as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes.
Vape injuries occur due to the presence of the heating coil in the device and the process of heating oils or liquids in the vaporizer. If the vaporizer device malfunctions or is defective in some way, it can lead to:
- Explosions with attendant injuries, such as lacerations, broken bones and teeth and possible loss of vision;
- Burns cause by heat and/or fire;
- Chemical burns;
- Seizures and strokes.
Vaping accidents can cause injuries, including especially burns, to the face, including the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, lips, eyes, cheeks, and other areas of the face. Mishaps involving vaping devices have also caused injuries to the hands, because the device is held in the hand when the steam, or vapor, is inhaled.
Other vape injuries include reactions to the oils or other ingredients that are heated for inhalation, as well as lung injuries from inhaling the heated, vaporized contents. Inhalation injuries can cause symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, and chronic cough.
Specifically, lung injuries that have been documented from vaping include:
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS): This syndrome causes the lungs to fill with fluid. At least one death has been attributed to ARDS and this was of a person who had no lung issues before starting to vape a few months before his death;
- Popcorn Lung: This is a relatively rare lung condition characterized by the scarring of lung tissue. The scarring makes breathing more difficult over time. Popcorn lung is caused by inhaling the chemical diacetyl, which is used for flavoring the vapor;.
- Lipoid Pneumonia: Scientists have noted similarities between vape-related lung illnesses and lipoid pneumonia. Lipoid pneumonia occurs when fat molecules enter the lungs and cause inflammation, chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have done studies suggesting that vitamin E acetate may be the cause of some vaping-related lung injuries. The CDC took fluid samples from the lungs of almost 30 patients with vape-related lung problems. It found E acetate in every sample.
Are Vaping Implements Different from E-Cigarettes?
The term “vaporizer” is often used mistakenly in place of the term e-cigarette. Generally, they operate using the same principles and mechanisms. However, vaping devices are generally larger than e-cigarettes, and often contain a reservoir or chamber for storing the oil or liquid that is vaporized by heating. Also, the batteries of vaping devices can be removed and replaced.
E-cigarettes tend to be cigarette-sized, and their use is also often called “vaping”. However, e-cigarettes function differently in a couple of ways. An e-cigarette contains an atomizer which is the heating element. This heating element atomizes a liquid solution called “e-liquid”. The e-cigarettes is activated when the user either inhales or presses a button. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like traditional cigarettes, which are made of tobacco rolled in paper. Most versions of e-cigarettes are reusable
Most e-cigarettes have built-in batteries that can be recharged. The e-cigarette’s body also contains the connector for the atomizer, a fire button which activates the heating element, and a charging port for recharging the battery. An LED screen that helps in adjusting settings and shows remaining battery life is also available with some models..
Due to the fact that the user can change the parts, e.g. the battery, or the oil substances in a vaping device, vaporizers can pose more risks of injury than e-cigarettes. When changing the parts or the oil, the user may unintentionally alter the product in a way that creates a greater risk of fire or explosion.
Who Can be Held Liable for Vape Injuries?
In many cases, vape injuries can be traced to a product defect, which has caused the device to malfunction. These defects can take the form of a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a warning label defect. Many vape defects are design defects, which means that the product was designed in a faulty manner.
For instance, many vaporizer explosions have been linked to defects in the design of the devices’ battery. Poorly designed batteries have sometimes caused the vaping devices to explode when in use. Obviously, this can create a dangerous situation, especially if the device is inside the user’s mouth when it explodes.
Under a strict product liability theory, designers, manufacturers and distributors, e.g. retail outlets, can be held responsible for injuries caused by a product’s defects. A person who is injured by a defective product does not have to prove any negligence. Rather, they must only show that the product was defective in some manner and that the defect caused injury and loss to the person.
Under a negligence theory, a person would have to show all of the following elements with respect to a person or entity involved in the design, manufacture or distribution of the product:
- They owed a duty of care to those who would use it;
- The breached the duty of care by acting negligently,
- The breach caused injury to the user;
- The injuries resulted in losses to the person that can be compensated by an award of money damages.
Each element of negligence must be proven by evidence.
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Vape Injury?
Vape accidents and injuries can require a legal response. In many cases, a vape accident lawsuit can result in the payment of monetary damages to the person who is injured and suffers losses because of their injuries. Damages would be awarded in either a strict liability or in a negligence lawsuit.
These damages would cover losses such as doctor and hospital bills for medical treatment. Damages would also compensate the injured person for lost wages if they are unable to work.
If an inability to work is expected to last into the future, an award of damages would include a sum to compensate for future lost wages as well. Damages would also cover an amount for the pain and suffering that the injured person has sustained.
In cases where explosions or burns are involved, scarring of the face or hands may also be an issue. This could lead to permanent disfigurement or other disability; compensation for the effects of permanent injury would be included in the damages award as well.
Product liability claims can often be filed as a class action suit, if many people are injured by the same vaping device. Also, product recalls may be issued for dangerous vaping products, oils, and other related items.
Claims against manufacturers and distributors could also be based on a breach of implied warranty theory.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Vaping Injury Lawsuit?
Vaping injuries can be very serious and resolution of them may require legal action. You should consult an experienced defective products lawyer in your area if you need assistance with a legal claim for damages suffered when using a vaping device or an e-cigarette.
Your attorney can assist you in attempting to negotiate a resolution of your claim. Or, if that is not possible, then your attorney can file a lawsuit as needed. If you need to appear in court, your lawyer would provide you with legal representation during important court hearings and of course, at a trial, if that should become necessary. .