In the last year or two, e-cigarettes and vaping devices have truly taken over. People are switching to these products versus traditional cigarettes and are calling it a healthier choice. Common brands include, Juul, Blu, and and Vuse, and you may hear these devices called numerous names, such as, vape pens, pod mods, tanks, electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDS), e-hookahs, and e-cigarettes. Although these products are advertised as a healthier option than cigarettes, aside from still having health disadvantages, they also pose a new frontier to product liability. E-cigarettes and vapes are a form of new technology that require lithium-ion batteries in order to be used. Because of this, some of these products have been known to actually explode on the user causing serious injury. In 2017, more than 120 lawsuits were filed for this reason. Some of these cases caused severe burns, facial lacerations, and, in extreme cases, wrongful death.
Simply put, product liability is when a manufacturer or seller is held liable for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer. Responsibility for a product defect that causes injury lies with all sellers of the product who are in the distribution chain. The law requires that a product meets the ordinary expectations of the consumer.
The Georgia code for product liability states that injured parties don’t need proof that they purchased the product (known as privity) to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. You can file a claim on behalf of a loved one or for injuries sustained during use of a friend’s borrowed product even if you weren’t the one who made the purchase. For the courts to rule in the plaintiff’s favor in a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff will have to prove four main elements:
The product had a defect at the time of the injury.
The defective condition caused the injury or a loved one’s death.
The item was in basically the same condition as it was when it left the manufacturer.
The plaintiff used the item as the manufacturer intended.
For more on Georgia’s Product Liability law, click here.
There has not been one single reason or explanation for the product failures. Some of the obvious problems include the lack of industry-wide manufacturing standards or testing programs, and misuse by the user who may modify their device or use the wrong battery chargers.
The lithium-ion batteries used to power e-cig vaporizers are small and powerful. When they fail, the results can be disastrous. This has also been seen with cellphones, laptops, hover boards.
Extreme temperatures can also cause some lithium-ion batteries to malfunction.
If your e-cigarette or vape malfunctions and causes injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Every company in the electronic nicotine delivery device industry holds the responsibility to design and manufacture their products so that consumers can safely use them. They are also required to warn and instruct their users about possible harm and ways to prevent said harm. If all of these things are not done correctly and a user is injured, the company can be found liable.
If you have been injured due to an e-cigarette or vape malfunction, contact Kaufman Law to discuss your potential case. Our experienced attorneys can help determine the next best steps for you!