Pressure cookers, which heat food to temperatures approaching 250˚F in an enclosed, pressurized environment, have a long history of malfunction and injury. Few household appliances generate as much heat and are routinely left alone, but this is the basic premise of a pressure cooker. This means that every product malfunction could put the safety of you and your household at risk of burns or worse.
Source: Wikipedia. Shared under a CC BY 2.0 license
The Laws Protecting Consumers
When a customer purchases a product in the U.S., they are protected from unexpected risk and injury involved in the use of the product through a suite of laws which cover manufacturing defects, design defects and communication about known product dangers. These laws avail consumers of a basic right to the implied safety of a purchased product.
These laws also come in handy when injuries result from the use of defective products. Consumer safety laws apply throughout the chain of distribution, to manufacturers, distributors, retailers and everyone involved in the lifecycle of the product. These safeguards aim to ensure that preventable accidents like pressure cooker explosions and burns never occur, and that there is a mechanism for redress if they do.
How Defective Pressure Cookers Cause Accidents
It is impossible to know whether it’s safe to open the lid of a pressure cooker after it’s done cooking — users rely on the proper functioning of the product for that. When pressure cookers malfunction because of defects, they can explode and cause injury through the sudden release of built-up pressure or electrical charge.
The following models of pressure cooker have all been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission due to injury risk:
- Breville Fast Slow Cookers: The sealing gasket can be incorrectly inserted upside down on the lid, which can cause burns through the unexpected release of pressure.
- Instant Pot “Smart” Model Pressure Cooker: The thermal probe in the base can conduct electricity throughout the cooker, posing a risk of electric shock.
- Manntra Pressure Cooker: If not closed properly, the lid can open and allow hot contents to spill out.
- Nutrex Pressure Cooker: It can discharge steam at lower pressures than intended, which poses a burn hazard.
- QVC Welbilt Electronic Pressure Cooker: The lid on these pressure cookers can open prematurely while contents are under pressure, causing what’s inside to be expelled.
- Ultrex-Brand Pressure Cooker: Its lid can open while its contents are under pressure.
Unrecalled Pressure Cookers with Known Defects
The following pressure cookers are still in people’s kitchens, despite growing evidence of product defects:
- Tristar Power Pressure Cooker, various models: Tristar recently settled a class action lawsuit which claimed that Tristar pressure cookers do not seal properly and open while their contents are under pressure.
- Gourmia Express Pot Electric Pressure Cooker: Problems with sealing and pressurizing have been reported by consumers.
What Types of Injuries Can Pressure Cookers Inflict?
When pressure cookers open unexpectedly, releasing steam created at 40˚F past boiling and other scalding contents, they are known to cause catastrophic accidents. This can be devastating to bystanders, such as a Fort Lauderdale toddler whose exploding pressure cooker injury led to second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of her body. Doctors had to amputate one of her legs to save her life.
Other pressure cooker injuries have been nearly as damaging. Exploding pressure cookers are the functional equivalent of having a bomb on the kitchen counter, and they’ve been known to cause:
- Eye injuries, including blindness
- Burns, lacerations and blisters
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Property damage to the surrounding cabinets, appliances and kitchen furnishings
Source: Wikipedia. Shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license
When to Consult with an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer
At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we have over 30 years of experience in litigating product liability cases. We take all claims on a contingency basis, and will only charge you attorney fees if we are able to obtain financial compensation for your losses.
McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt welcomes clients local to our Philadelphia offices and those from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and further afield. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-866-694-5578.