A jury has awarded a woman who filed a product liability lawsuit just under two million dollars in damages after she was seriously burned by an electronic cigarette.

The Fire

The plaintiff was on her way to build a community center in Brazil when she stopped at the airport to charge her e-cigarette. The device malfunctioned and sprayed her with hot metal, which then caused her dress to catch on fire.

Her husband was able to put the flames out by pouring his iced coffee on her, however, the damage was already done. The plaintiff suffered second-degree burns on her hands, thighs, and buttocks. She was taken to the emergency room and ended up in the burn unit instead of in Brazil. It took her months to heal. 

She chose to file a complaint against VapCigs, alleging that the company had sold a defective product and as a result she had been seriously injured. She requested compensation for her medical expenses, lost wages, lost travel expenses, and physical pain and suffering.

Product Liability

Despite safety standards that have been put into place to protect the American consumer, thousands of people are injured every year because the product they are using is defective in some way.

Under product liability law, those who are responsible for the design, creation of, and distribution of the defective product may be held responsible depending on the case. There are several types of product defects:

Design Defect

This type of defect has to do with the way the product is modeled – the defect occurs even before the manufacturing process takes place.

Manufacturing Defects

This occurs when the defect arises from the way in which the product has been put together or assembled.

Marketing Defects / Failure To Warn

Marketing defects most often deal with how products are labeled, incorrect or insufficient safety warnings, and insufficient instructions.

If any of these defects caused an injury, the victim may be able to obtain compensation for those injuries through a product liability lawsuit.

If I File A Lawsuit What Do I Need To Prove?

If you choose to pursue legal action, there are a few things that you will need to prove:

  1. That you were using the product for it’s intended use and not for a purpose outside of that use.
  2. That the product had a defect.
  3. That while using the product you were injured.
  4. Your injuries were the direct result of the defect.

What Can I Gain From Filing A Lawsuit?

Whether a the plaintiff takes a settlement agreement or is awarded a favorable verdict from a jury, the compensation obtained is called “damages”. Damages are intended to cover the plaintiffs:

Medical Expenses

Injuries that are commonly sustained due to a defective product are often not inexpensive to treat. Hospitalization, surgery, medications, and physical therapy can leave the victim financially burdened due to an injury caused by another party’s negligence.

Lost Earnings

Not being able to work places additional strain on the finances – not only on the victim but also on anyone who depends on them.

Physical Suffering

In cases where the injury leaves the victim suffering from constant physical pain for an extended period of time, or if the injury leaves them disfigured or scarred, monetary compensation may be provided for these losses.

Emotional Trauma

If the accident left the victim with psychological trauma compensation may be provided for this as well.

What If My Loved One Died Due To A Defective Product?

If your loved one passed away after being injured by a defective product, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

In order to establish a wrongful death claim a plaintiff must prove:

  • that a death occurred
  • that the death occurred because of the wrongful conduct of the defendant
  • that the deceased could have pursued a personal injury claim if they had lived
  • that the surviving family members have suffered a loss as a result of the death
  • damages exist which the estate can recover

In New York, the only person who may pursue a wrongful death complaint is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. However, this representative can seek damages for the losses that are suffered by other loved ones, including the deceased’s heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees.

When damages are awarded to the representative, the court treats them as though they hold those damages in trust for the other surviving family members.

Damages That May Be Awarded

The damages that can be obtained from a wrongful death claim include:

  • wages that were lost by the deceased due to their death
  • benefits that were lost due to the deceased’s death
  • the monetary value of any support and services that the deceased offered their family
  • the cost of any medical care the deceased required because of the injury which resulted in their death
  • funeral and burial expenses

How Quickly Does A Claim Need To Be Filed?

In New York, the statute of limitations for product liability claims is three years from the date that the defect caused the injury.

Do I Need To Retain A Lawyer?

Bringing a claim against a manufacturing company or retailer would be very difficult to do without the help of a lawyer. These companies typically have excellent resources and their own legal teams who will immediately come to their defense. It is always a good decision to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.

A lawyer can assist you by gathering evidence that may end up being crucial to your case. It is important that any evidence be obtained before someone else has the chance to make it disappear. They will also take care of the process of filing, can work to negotiate a fair settlement, and explain the complicated aspects of the law.

In the majority of cases, working will a lawyer will ensure that you are able to obtain a larger sum in compensation than you would be able to on your own.

What If I Was Injured By A Defective Product On The Job?

Injuries stemming from defective products happen to workers on a regular basis, especially in industries where employees use power tools and heavy machinery every day.

Injured workers are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, the problem with workers’ comp is that it will only cover medical expenses and a fraction of any wages lost by the employee. This claim will never provide the worker with compensation for physical or emotional pain and suffering.

To add insult to injury, a large percentage of these claims are denied outright by the insurance company. The denial can be appealed but the process of filing an appeal is long and complicated.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim prevents the employee from suing their employer, however, it does not prevent them from pursuing a lawsuit against a negligent third party, such as a manufacturing company. In many cases, a product injury lawsuit is the only way that an injured worker is able to get the compensation they need to get back on their feet.

How Much Is My Case Worth?

This is the question that all of our clients have asked and the answer is that until we review the details of your case, there is no way to know how much you may gain from filing a lawsuit. Even after the facts have been reviewed, only an estimate can be given.