E-cigarette malfunctions prompt product liability lawsuits

 

For a number of reasons, e-cigarettes – also known as vapes or vape pens – have become popular in recent years. For some users, e-cigarettes are a lifestyle choice; others consider them a useful tool for quitting smoking. But whether used as a quitting aid or a fashion statement, e-cigarettes pose risks to users. Besides the dangers associated with inhaling a foreign substance, users can suffer injuries from exploding batteries or fires started by batteries. In both cases, a product liability lawyer may be able to advise you on your potential path to compensation.

The rise of e-cigarette use has corresponded with an influx of e-cigarette-related lawsuits. In 2017, more than 120 lawsuits were filed in the United States by people who were injured from e-cigarette battery malfunctions. The phenomenon hit Canada as well: a Calgary man suffered third degree burns when a battery exploded in his pocket in February, and a New Brunswick man suffered similar injuries in March.

In Canada, regulating and ensuring the safety of e-cigarettes has been a challenge.

“There is no specific federal legislation for e-cigarettes in Canada,” University of Waterloo professor of public health David Hammond told Global News. “Let’s be clear: it’s a very small number of devices [exploding/causing fire], but it is a dramatic example of the need for product standards … having some basic rules about how those are designed.”

The injuries caused by exploding e-cigarette batteries can be severe. Per Courthouse News:

“At least 8 plaintiffs in 2017 filed lawsuits claiming electronic cigarettes exploded in their mouth, with some saying the blast knocked out teeth and caused third-degree burns. Dozens of other claimants allege they were scorched around their legs or groin when vaporizer batteries they were carrying in their pocket caught fire.”

If you have been injured by an exploding e-cigarette battery, contact a product liability lawyer to discuss your case. Product liability lawsuits allege one of three causes for a product’s malfunction: defects in design, wherein a product is dangerous even when manufactured and used as intended; manufacturing defects, where a product is designed well but rendered dangerous by an error during assembly; and defects in warning, wherein the company that produced the product fails to adequately warn consumers of the risks associated with its use.

For more information on product liability lawsuits in general, or to discuss the viability of your product liability claim, contact a product liability lawyer at Will Davidson LLP to find out how our team can help.

 

Image credit: Lindsay Fox/Wikimedia Commons

Overcrowding at Ontario’s hospitals puts patients at risk

 

Many of Ontario’s hospitals were dangerously overcrowded in 2017, leading to conditions that put patient safety at risk and can, in some cases, result in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Last December, leaders from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) warned in unusually dire terms that the province’s hospitals were “on the brink” of a “crisis,” according to the Toronto Star.

In a prebudget submission to Ontario’s finance committee, the OHA requested a 4.55 per cent funding increase, approximately $815-million, for 2018-19.

“An increase of 4.55 per cent in hospital funding in 2018-19 will ensure that hospitals have the resources needed to avoid a significant capacity crisis in Ontario’s health care system,” reads the document, titled ‘A Sector on the Brink: The Case for a Significant Investment in Ontario’s Hospitals.’

“The sector is heaving under enormous pressure right now,” said OHA president Anthony Hale. “Hospitals really need significant investment next year to maintain access to existing levels of services.”

Approximately half of the province’s 143 hospitals hit 100 per cent occupancy during summer 2017, and some reported 140 per cent occupancy over the course of the year. The international standard for safe occupancy is 85 per cent, the Star reports.

The effects of overcrowding in hospitals are many. The OHA’s prebudget submission lists longer wait times; increased volume in emergency rooms; and run down, past-its-prime equipment. Hospital overcrowding can also put tremendous pressure on staff, force patients to be housed in make-shift facilities like hallways and staff lounges, and increase risk of infection. In other words, overcrowding creates an environment where an error leading to a medical malpractice lawsuit is more likely to occur.

The Government of Ontario has announced several measures intended to ease the overcrowding crisis, including adding 1,200 beds for this year’s flu season; investing $40-million in home care in order to open up hospital beds; and introducing 5,000 new long-term care beds over the next four years. But without additional funding commitments, these actions are unlikely to produce lasting improvements.

Ontario’s population is expected to grow by more than 30 per cent over the next 25 years, during which time the number of seniors in the province is expected to double. By 2041, people aged 65 and over are expected to make up 25 per cent of the population. The coming population boom and overall aging trend will continue to strain hospital capacities unless substantial changes to the healthcare system are made.

If you or someone you love has been injured due to a medical error, contact the Oakville personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to discuss whether you have grounds to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit.

 

Image credit: Master Sgt. Efrain Gonzalez/U.S. Air Force

Allstate Releases Safe Driving Study; GTA Performs Badly

 

In late November, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada released its latest Safe Driving Study, an in-depth analysis of company collision claims data covering 93 regions over the 24-month period from July 2015 to June 2017. The study revealed improved safety in certain regions, but an overall 2.5 per cent increase in accident frequency nationwide. The findings are cause for concern for Ontario personal injury lawyers.

“While it’s encouraging to see that a number of regions across Canada are showing a decrease in collision frequency, we find it troubling that our 2017 Safe Driving Study is showing an overall increase in collisions, especially as the most severe collisions are involving cyclists and pedestrians,” said David MacInnis, Vice President, Product Operations at Allstate. “These results show there is still a lot of work to be done to help reduce collisions, especially as we head into what is typically the most dangerous driving season of the year.”

The Province of Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) performed particularly badly. Though Halifax, Nova Scotia, recorded the worst collision frequency of the 93 regions covered, GTA cities like Ajax, North York, Scarborough, Caledon, Brampton, Concord, and the City of Toronto all appeared in the bottom ten. Oakville fared considerably better as the 53rd safest region, but Ontario was the only province to see an overall collision frequency increase.

Ontario personal injury lawyers will be concerned, but likely unsurprised, to discover that collisions involving vulnerable road users were considered the most severe.

“It’s clear that in many communities across Canada, collisions involving those walking or cycling happen far too often,” MacInnis said. “Our study reinforces the need to talk about what can be done to help reduce these collisions to improve the safety of everyone using our roads, whether they’re in a vehicle, on a bike or on foot.”

As if to brutally emphasize this point, two GTA pedestrians, one in Etobicoke and one in Mississauga, were killed in separate collisions just days after Allstate’s release. As of late December 2017, 34 pedestrians and three cyclists had been killed in the City of Toronto alone, with many more seriously injured. Across the region, and indeed across Canada, drivers must better adhere to safe driving principles in order to limit serious injuries and fatalities as much as possible.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automotive accident in Oakville or the wider GTA, contact Will Davidson LLP’s team of Ontario personal injury lawyers to learn how we can help.

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