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What Do Some Cellphones and Electronic Cigarettes Have in Common?

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It sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, but there is a very dangerous answer. Recently, a professional basketball player living in Plano, Texas was injured when his LG cellphone exploded in his hand. In a related story, a vape pen exploded recently and killed a man in Fort Worth. What is going on? How are these two accidents related?

Devices like cellphones and vaping pens have batteries that are subject to the risk of what is called thermal runaway. Unless the battery is protected properly, a short circuit can develop due to a poorly designed or manufactured product or problems with the battery itself. As a result, the battery can rapidly overheat or even explode, causing injuries to the user.

While an investigation by experts is necessary to determine who is responsible for this thermal runaway, it is a very real danger lurking in our cars, purses, and pockets. Any device with a battery can suffer this thermal meltdown if the product engineers and battery manufacturers do not prevent these dangerous short circuits.

If you feel a battery-operated device beginning to become unusually hot, turn it off immediately. If it continues to heat, put it in a safe place away from others, and move yourself and others out of danger. Make sure these devices are away from closed spaces like your car, a purse, or your pockets. While there is no guaranteed way to stay safe if one of these devices burns or explodes, it is best to take specific precautions if the device appears to be malfunctioning.

If you do happen to be injured in such a failure, consider contacting an attorney who has experience with products liability personal injury cases. You may be eligible for compensation for damages caused by phones, electronic cigarettes, or another battery-operated device that cause injury. At the McCraw Law Group, we could help evaluate and prosecute such claims.