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Exploding Vape Devices On the Rise, Along with Lawsuits

Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys on Vaping Device Injuries

When e-cigarettes were first introduced around 2007, they seemed like a great alternative to traditional cigarettes and a way to help heavy smokers kick the habit. Unfortunately, e-cigarettes and vape pens have opened up a whole Pandora’s box of health and safety problems.

By now, you’ve no doubt seen at least one news story about a vaping device exploding and injuring—or even killing—the vaper. Deaths have been fairly rare, but are shockingly horrific. In May 2018, a 38-year-old Florida man became the first e-cigarette fatality when a vape pen he was using exploded and sent fragments of metal into his brain. Then, in January, 2019 a 24-year-old Texas man died after a vape device explosion tore open his left carotid artery—while sitting in his car outside a store that sells vape equipment.

Far more common than fatalities are the burn injuries caused by exploding vape devices, and there have been plenty of those—approximately 2,035 between 2015 and 2017, according to a study by researchers supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That’s an average of 2.78 incidents per day.

Most vape device explosions have been traced to a battery known as an 18650 battery. Slightly larger than a AA battery, these rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are used in vaping devices called “mechanical mods.” Unlike most vaping devices, mechanical mods have no internal safety circuitry and any damage to the outer insulating wrapper of the battery can result in metal-to-metal contact inside the device, which can cause the batteries to overheat and explode.

In addition to short circuit issues, these lithium-ion batteries can explode due to overheating from extended exposure to heat, from overcharging, and from using the wrong charging device or cable. Per data compiled by the U.S. Fire Administration, about 80% of all vaping device explosions occur while the device is being charged.                   

Injuries range from relatively minor to severe. In June, 2019, for instance, a 17-year-old Utah boy was vaping at home when his device exploded. With his jaw shattered, several teeth broken and a hole in his chin, the boy’s parents had to drive him 250 miles to the nearest hospital with doctors able to handle the surgery required.

Who’s Liable for Injuries Caused by Vape Device Explosions?

Per Wisconsin law, the manufacturer and retailer of a product that has caused injury due to unsafe design, unsafe parts, or a manufacturing defect can be held liable for those injuries. For purchases made online, such as Amazon or eBay, the online retailer can also be held liable.

Warshafsky Law has extensive experience holding the manufacturers of faulty products accountable for the injuries they cause. While cases involving vape devices are still relatively new, and many are still making their way through the legal system, the basic premise of accountability still applies.

It’s essential to have an experienced personal injury attorney represent you, though, because in most cases the manufacturers point the finger at the battery maker (typically located in China or South Korea) while the retailer points the finger at the victim, claiming misuse of the product. Our personal injury attorneys have dealt with all sorts of attempts by manufacturers and retailers to obfuscate the issues and dodge liability, and we’ve always prevailed.

Injured by a Vape Device Explosion? Take these Steps:

  • Retain whatever vaping device(s) and vaping fluids (“juice”) you’ve been using
  • Document how long you’ve been using the device and how much of the fluids you use in a typical day
  • Keep records of all doctor appointments and charges you’ve incurred
  • Keep track of all time you’ve lost from work due to your injury
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Request a Free Initial Legal Consultation

If you or someone close to you has been seriously injured by a vaping device, a personal injury lawsuit is likely your only chance at restitution. Take advantage of a free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. If you’re unable to meet at our Milwaukee office, we can set up a phone conference. Although based in Milwaukee, we handle cases all over the U.S.

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Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys


Warshafsky is a based-in-Milwaukee personal injury law firm serving the injured since the 1950s.

Warshafsky has brought hundreds of successful lawsuits against auto makers, drug companies and insurance companies. Many clients choose us in part because we are able and willing to fund a case fully through trial and even appeal. Insurance companies value your claim based on the quality of your lawyer. No other Wisconsin law firms boast a board-certified accident investigator and a doctor who is also a lawyer and an attorney who represented insurance companies.

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