Pressure cookers use steam to cook foods at a much faster rate than traditional means of cooking. Several manufacturers provide different versions of modern day pressure cookers offering easier means of preparing foods like casseroles and stews. As indicated by its name, a pressure cooker lid is designed to create a very tight seal to trap steam inside to allow pressure to build to the desired setting. The pressurized condition is created with the use of small amounts of water. The water boils, creating steam, the cooking mechanism of a pressure cooker. As the steam builds, pressure increases.
While they may provide an easier and arguably better way of preparing certain foods, pressure cookers, because of the heat and pressure created during the cooking process, pose a serious risk of injury to the cook and anyone in the immediate vicinity of the lid. While some burn injuries occur because of the transfer of heat from the inside to the outside of the units, more serious injuries are caused when the device explodes or allows its contents to escape under pressure.
To combat this risk, many pressure cookers are equipped with a safety or interlocked lid. This safety device is designed to prevent the lid from opening when the pressure inside the unit would cause the contents to explode out due to the built up pressure. In addition to the interlocked lid, modern pressure cookers commonly have pressure release valves, which are supposed to depressurize the unit safely.
Experts analyzing the design of these devices report that most brands have multiple pressure release valves to serve the same safety function just in case one or more fails to do so. Given the multiple safety features designed to prevent these devices from exploding or forcibly expelling their hot contents, one might ask why there are so many incidents of burn injuries caused by pressure cookers.
Lawyers in our firm are currently investigating a claim for a client who sustained severe burns to her arms, chest area and her stomach when the heated contents of her cooker were expelled after she waited the recommended amount of time after turning the unit off before opening the cooker. Despite following the manufacturer’s recommendations, and despite the inclusion of multiple safety devices, the woman still sustained serious burn injuries requiring multiple surgeries when the pressure cooker forcibly expelled its hot contents onto her body.
Research indicates that many pressure cookers, despite safety devices and recommended procedures, still explode leading to serious burn injuries. Manufacturers usually defend their product by accusing the victim of incorrectly assembling or misusing the devices. In the case our lawyers are investigating, the unit was assembled by the retailer and the client is adamant that she waited well beyond the recommended cool down time before opening the lid.
Many manufacturers have recalled pressure cookers due to product defects malfunctioning parts. As far back as 1983, more than 300,000 pressure cookers were recalled. In 2007, more than 50,000 pressure cookers were recalled due to defects dealing with the lids or pressure-induced expulsion of food from the cooker. We intend to file suit on our client’s behalf. Beware of these potentially dangerous devices. If you need more information, contact Kendall Dunson, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury/Products Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.
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