Airline passengers traveling in the U.S. will no longer be able to pack their e-cigarettes in checked baggage according to a rule now being finalized by government safety officials.
The ruling comes as a result of several reports of e-cigarettes catching fire in checked baggage. Passengers are also prohibited from charging their e-cigarettes while in the airline cabin, though they may travel with the devices in their carry-on luggage.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) published the ruling in the Federal Register on May 18. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that it would go into effect after 30 days. The May announcement follows a preliminary ruling published in October of 2015.
More than 10% of adults in the U.S. use e-cigarettes, partly due to the reputation as a healthier alternative to traditional forms of cigarette smoking. However, there have been several reports of fires or explosions associated with the devices, some of them leaving the users or bystanders badly burned, or with broken bones or missing eyes.
E-Cig batteries and chargers can be faulty, dangerous
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has documented several e-cigarette-related explosions or fires in 2015, while the on-line resource E-Cig One claims to have documented 168 instances since FEMA’s initial report. Of the 168 explosions, 101 reportedly resulted in injury or even death.
E-Cigarette fires in passengers’ luggage have disrupted recent flights. A January Hawaiian airlines flight had to make an emergency landing due to reports of a fire from the cargo area that turned out to be an overheated e-cigarette. In March, a fire in a passenger’s carry-on bag on a Delta flight was extinguished while the airplane was still on the ground, but led to delays.
In some cases, user error may be the reason behind the fires and explosions. However, a significant problem with e-cigarettes is that their batteries and chargers have frequently been defective, leading to serous accidents and injuries. The industry is new and not well-regulated; flawed or substandard batteries and chargers have flooded the market.
Lawsuits filed over e-cigarette-related injuries
Consumers who have been injured due to e-cigarette fires or injuries may be eligible to file a lawsuit over defective e-cigarette products. Several parties who have been injured while “vaping” or in connection with using/charging the devices have already filed e-cigarette lawsuits against the manufacturers that produced faulty products at consumers’ expense.
Those injured may be able to gain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other losses. A California woman who suffered serious burns when her e-cigarette charger exploded in her car was awarded $1.9 million by a jury in 2013.
If you believe that you have sustained injuries due to faulty e-cigarettes, batteries, or chargers, you are invited to contact the product liability attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye. You can set up a free consultation to learn more about your legal options by calling 1-800-469-7429.