Toward the end of 2019, emergency room visits began to increase, with patients suffering from symptoms such as fever, stomach pain, chest tightness, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, lung damage, and in some cases, death. The cause was apparently due to a vaping-related illness. E-cigarettes were originally presented as a safer option to tobacco and nicotine cigarettes, but according to the CDC, there has been an outbreak of illness related to vaping, known as E-cigarette/Vaping products Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI). If you have experienced a vaping injury, then you may be entitled to recover compensation. Speaking with a personal injury attorney could shed some light on this for you.
Here you can learn more about illnesses caused by electronic cigarettes and what you may be able to do if you or a loved one is suffering from EVALI.
What exactly is vaping?
Vaping is a term used to describe smoking e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered alternatives to tobacco cigarettes. The e-cig is usually shaped like a pen or USB drive. Attached to this is a liquid-filled cartridge containing “vape juice” that is heated and produces an aerosol, which is then inhaled by the user. This aerosol contains nicotine and other substances that are harmful to the user, and some users may also add THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, to their e-cig. While many thought of using e-cigs as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, it is becoming evident that vaping is not safe, either.
What side effects are caused by electronic cigarettes?
There are many side effects that can occur when these types of cigarettes are used, and in some cases they lead to very serious injury or even death. E-cigarettes have actually exploded in some cases and, while this is rare, according to the FDA, they can be quite destructive and dangerous. The battery itself is what causes the explosion. It can potentially explode while you are using it, carrying it in your pocket, or while it’s being charged. In one case, a 17-year-old boy’s electronic cigarette exploded in his face, shattering his jaw and breaking his teeth, leading to him to require multiple surgeries to repair the damage.
Damage caused in these types of situations may require a specialist to install oral appliances or perform other types of medical treatment such as maxillofacial surgery.
While explosions are rare, the use of e-cigarettes can also be the cause of other symptoms such as neuropathic pain, lung disease, lung injury, seizures, strokes, and much more. Types of lung injuries that can happen include lung failure or collapse, pneumonia, bleeding, and fluid gathering in the lungs, or infections, amongst others.
Along with EVALI, e-cigs may also cause orofacial pain, which may require orofacial pain treatment for gum inflammation and similar problems. These pen-like cigarettes can also cause other undesirable side effects that could affect you for quite a while. Along with shortness of breath, you may experience chronic pain in your jaw.
What should you do if you have EVALI or other vape-related diseases?
If you receive an EVALI diagnosis, there are some steps you should consider taking so that you are not stuck with a large number of medical expenses and end up paying for medical supplies without the help of health insurance. You should collect evidence from the cigarette itself and document what company manufactured it so that you know who should be held accountable. Make sure to keep all medical records of treatment and, if possible, get photos of what happened. You will need all this evidence should you decide to move forward with filing a claim.
Adults often fall victim to these cigarettes and should be compensated for what happened to them. Unfortunately, many vape marketing campaigns target the youth, making electronic cigarettes seem more appealing to children and teenagers. Families of these children are often shocked by their diagnosis and feel unsure of what to do next, especially when they are told that their child now has a lowered lung capacity, an acute lung injury, or the lungs of a 70-year-old. Reaching out to a personal injury attorney may provide you with some guidance as they can help you to file a lawsuit against the companies that created and marketed these products to teens and young adults.
How can a personal injury attorney help your case?
Filing a personal injury claim sounds straightforward, but you may want an attorney on your side who knows the laws of your state and will know when to file your claim and what to include in it so that you can get the most compensation possible. Things you may be able to put in your claim could include:
- Medical Bills: Medical equipment, healthcare provider treatment, hospital bills, and more are just some of the medical costs that could be incurred after e-cigarette use. Even if you have Medicaid or other health insurance, all of this can still be quite expensive.
- Evidence of Lost Wages: You may miss out on some time at work helping your loved one recover from this illness, and you can claim those lost wages in your lawsuit.
- Wrongful Death: Sadly, some people have lost their lives to the side effects of e-cigarette usage. If you lose a loved one, there is obviously no amount of money that will compensate for the loss, but you still deserve to recoup costs of the funeral, the loss of their income, loss of their companionship, and more.
- Pain and Suffering: These claims measure the emotional and mental toll that this disease can take on you and your loved ones. While this is not a quantifiable amount, you can claim an amount that you feel accurately reflects everything you have been through.
Depending on what state you live in, your claim may have a two-year statute of limitations. This means you have two years from the day of the injury to file your claim with the courts, otherwise, you will not be eligible to file. Other states may have a shorter or longer statute of limitations, but your personal injury lawyer will know when to file in a timely manner. Along with this, you will have to show negligence on the part of the company that manufactured the electronic cigarette so that you can collect fair compensation. Some states use comparative negligence laws while others follow contributory negligence, and each type affects how best to approach the case. Your attorney will determine the best strategy to follow when they negotiate with the company and their insurance company to get you the settlement you deserve. Negotiation may take some time, but the personal injury lawyer will work to keep the case from going to court as it is usually preferred to settle outside of the courtroom.
If you suffered illness due to the use of electronic cigarettes or a related lung injury, then that is considered a personal injury and you may be entitled to recover these kinds of compensation. Reach out to a personal injury attorney near you for more information. It is natural to be concerned about how much it may cost to hire a personal injury lawyer, but do not let that deter you from reaching out for a free consultation. Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay out legal fees or any kind of retainer right when you hire them. Instead, the lawyer will get an agreed-upon percentage of the total settlement after you receive your award.