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Watch out for Exploding E-Cigarettes

January 29, 2016
Personal Injury Blog Post

Man smoking e-cigaretteIn an effort to quit smoking and avoid the health dangers of tobacco, many people across the country are turning to electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs. In most basic terms, e-cigs work by heating a fluid placed into a small chamber called an RDA (rebuildable dripping atomizer) or RBA (rebuildable atomizer). This chamber is attached on one end to a mouthpiece with an airflow regulator and on the other end to a casing, holding a battery – the e-cigarette. When fully assembled, the battery is connected to the RDA or RBA by a metal coil wire that extends out of the RDA/RBA housing. Electricity from the battery heats the coil, which in turn heats fluid-saturated cotton inside the RDA/RBA chamber, which produces vapor. The idea is for an e-cig user to inhale the vapor to achieve the sensation of smoking without the harmful effects of smoking tobacco. 

Healthy, right? Safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes, right? Well, increasingly, there is evidence nationwide that while smoking tobacco cigarettes is a long-term threat to one's health, using some e-cigarettes may subject the user to sudden catastrophic injury resulting from e-cig explosions and fires. All across America, from big city to small town, from highly educated professionals to blue collar workers, sudden and catastrophic e-cigarette explosions are happening with increased frequency.

E-cig users have suffered severe and permanent injuries, most involving severe facial burns, facial bone fractures, loss of eyesight, and even a fractured cervical vertebrae (neck), resulting in risk of paralysis.

E-cigs are not currently regulated by any federal agency and are sold by small local vape shops as well as national chains. There are many manufacturers of the components which, when fully assembled, form what is colloquially called an e-cigarette. There are also differing designs for the RDA/RBAs, the mode, or battery housing, and the manner through which the cotton and coils operate and are charged and replaced.

When the e-cig explosions have occurred, the user/witnesses report that the explosive power was substantial. Typical explosions have involved violent explosions with metal shrapnel and disengaged metal components flying like bullets in multiple directions – as well as the discharge of fire. Across the country, e-cig users have suffered severe and permanent injuries, most involving severe facial burns, facial bone fractures, loss of eyesight, and even a fractured cervical vertebrae (neck), resulting in risk of paralysis. Typical injuries also include serious burn injury, requiring hospitalization, skin grafting, and huge medical bills.

There may be no warning at all that your e-cig is about to explode. When it occurs, this violent explosion is likely to occur right in front of the user's face (after all, the point is to "smoke" like it was a cigarette). The mechanism of explosion seems to be from a suddenly overheated battery. The manner and mechanism by which the battery becomes overheated to the point of explosion is subject to differing argument. The purpose of this piece is to WARN of the sudden explosive nature of some e-cigs; to cause AWARENESS that there is a problem inherent in the exploding e-cigs.

These devices are not supposed to explode in the user's face. Claims for compensation against manufacturers and distributing of e-cigs are being prosecuted across the country.

Varnum personal injury attorneys have decades of focused experience representing burn survivors and those who have suffered serious and catastrophic injury. We are pursuing claims currently for e-cig explosion injuries. 

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