You’ve likely heard whispers about pressure cooker lawsuits, maybe even seen a headline or two.
But what exactly is going on?
Recent years have seen an increase in legal action against some pressure cooker manufacturers, stemming from incidents involving malfunction, burns, and even explosions.
While these cases don’t paint a picture of every pot in every kitchen, understanding the scope and concerns can empower you to make informed choices for your safe cooking journey.
In this blog, we will break down the key aspects of pressure cooker lawsuits that you should be aware of.
Understanding Pressure Cooker Explosions
A pressure cooker creates a pressurized environment within the pot to help increase the cooking speed.
It creates high-pressure steam by trapping the heat from the boiling water within the sealed pot. This steam allows cooking temperatures within the cooker to reach as high as 266° F (130° C). To relieve this pressure, traditional cookers use ‘jigglers,’ whereas, modern electric cookers use safety mechanisms such as pressure release valves, locking lids, seals, and venting systems.
However, if the pressure cooker is flawed or used incorrectly, it can explode and cause severe injuries. When pressure cookers fail, they let out extremely hot contents under high pressure and cause severe scalding. The sudden, violent rupture can also hit bystanders with shrapnel-like fragments.
Reported injuries from explosively failed pressure cookers range from minor burns and cuts to blindness, hearing loss, blast damage to vital organs, amputation of limbs, PTSD, and even death in the most extreme cases.
For instance, in 2015, a two-year-old girl suffered life-threatening injuries when a pressure cooker exploded in her home in Florida.
The damage was so severe that she was scarred for life and also had to amputate her leg. About 60% of her body was covered with second- and third-degree burns. Following an investigation, her family was compensated with $27 million.
In a similar case, Beth Morales was injured with second-degree burns on her upper body when her Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL exploded. Beth later sued the manufacturer, Tristar Products, alleging that the popular brand advertised their products to be convenient, affordable, and safe.
As time went by, lawsuits were filed against over a dozen Power Pressure Cooker models sold between March 1, 2013, and January 19, 2018.
While Tristar Products, Instant Pot, and Crock Port are some well-known brands involved in the lawsuit, there are other lesser–known brands included as well. Knowing about these brands and incidents helps provide context to the rising concerns and also helps users comprehend the gravity of the situation.
Legal Recourse for Victims
To file a claim in the lawsuit, you must have purchased one of the named pressure cooker models and have proof of purchase.
The claimants must also have documentation of any injuries and damages caused directly by a pressure cooker explosion. This can include medical coverage, lost income due to missed work, disability costs, property damage, pain and anguish, and more. Immediate family members of someone injured or killed by a defective pressure cooker may also be eligible to file a claim.
Individuals can file a lawsuit by submitting their contact information, proof of purchase, evidence of injury/damages, and details of the incident to the lawsuit administrators before the stated deadlines. Claims can be filed online through settlement websites or by mailing/emailing the required documents. You can select what type of claim you want to file.
According to TorHoerman Law, there are three types of product liability claims in the pressure cooker lawsuit:
- Defective manufacturing,
- Defective designing, and
- Failure to adequately warn claim.
Depending on the claim, you can choose to pursue a personal claim or a class action lawsuit. If you’ve suffered extensive injuries, an individual claim will be the better option, as you can be compensated for the spectrum of costs you’ve incurred.
If you don’t have any experience with the law, it is better to hire a qualified lawyer, as the legal process can be overwhelming.
Recent Developments and Settlements
Pressure cooker lawsuits have been in the works for years. Multiple cases are underway and are being processed individually.
A few lawsuits have been settled, but people are still filing individual lawsuits. This might continue for a while as people discover more of the defective pressure cookers. The year 2023 was a significant one, as in August, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) identified over 850,000 Sensio pressure cookers as a ‘potential burn hazard’ and pulled them off the market.
The recall included models from the brands Bella, Bella Pro Series, Crux, and Cooks. According to the CPSC, Sensio received over 61 complaints, which consisted of 61 second and third-degree burn injuries to the upper body.
Following this, the CPSC announced another recall for INSIGNIA multi-function pressure cookers. This recall involved over 925,000 units that had incorrect volume markings on the inner side of the pot. According to the CPSC, Best Buy, the parent brand of INSIGNIA cookers, received over 30 complaints, of which 17 involved severe burns.
When it comes to compensation, plaintiffs can seek financial compensation through class action settlements or verdicts. The average payout for minor injuries, such as minor scarring, and first and second-degree burns, could be anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000.
For significant injuries, such as third-degree burns, you can expect the payout to be around $125,000 to a million dollars or even more, depending on the extent of your injuries. However, keep in mind that the settlement amount will vary as per the brand involved.
In addition to monetary compensation, some settlements may also include free replacement lids, repair costs, extended warranties, and product buybacks for consumers who still own an affected pressure cooker model.
In conclusion, pressure cooker lawsuits have become increasingly common in recent years due to incidents involving malfunction, burns, and explosions.
While not all pressure cookers are dangerous, it’s crucial to understand the dangers associated with these devices and take appropriate safety measures. If you’ve suffered injuries due to a defective pressure cooker, you might be eligible for compensation. By staying informed and following the safety tips outlined in this article, you can use a pressure cooker safely and avoid potential accidents.
Remember, precaution precedes potential payouts – prioritize safe cooking practices, stay informed about recalls, and choose informed cooking methods over fleeting convenience.