When it comes to the Fourth of July you can usually count on the crackle and pop of fireworks across Southern California. While some firework displays are set off by industry professionals, several others are the result of youthful indiscretion. In a previous post, we discussed the dangers of illegal fireworks. Some fireworks may be legal in California, but they can carry an incredible risk for personal injury and harm. Hospitalizations for firework-related injuries skyrocket in the days surrounding the holiday, and this past Fourth was no exception.

In San Bernardino, three young boys suffered significant injuries to their hands and face after attempting to set off firecrackers and light aerosol cans over the holiday weekend. At least one of the boys required surgery for extensive injuries to his fingers, and the others received treatment for severe cuts and burns. In Anaheim, officials believe a balcony fire was the result of personal and illegal firework use. Reports from Downtown Los Angeles liken the independent use of potentially illegal fireworks to creating a “war zone.” Using illegal fireworks – or improperly using “safe and sane” fireworks – can result in fines and criminal consequences. Using fireworks of any kind can result in civil consequences if they cause personal injury or harm.

Fireworks Users Must Use Extreme Caution

Californians over the age of 18 may purchase and use “safe and sane” fireworks. If, however, these legally-obtained and used fireworks cause harm or injury to another person, a fireworks user may be held liable for resulting damages. Victims who are injured in a fireworks accident may pursue compensation on the theory that the fireworks user was negligent.

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Proving negligence generally requires an injured victim to prove (1) the at-fault party owed a duty of care; (2) the at-fault party breached this duty of care; and (3) an injury or harm resulted. In ordinary negligence cases, a duty of care is determined by asking what an ordinary person would have done under similar circumstances. When the behavior or activity is designated as an inherently dangerous activity the standard of care is heightened.

The use of fireworks in California is considered to be an inherently dangerous activity. This means that a person using fireworks has an increased responsibility to ensure the safety of those around them. This heightened duty is referred to as “extreme caution.” It is no longer enough to do what an ordinary person would do under similar circumstances. Rather, a person using fireworks must use the “greatest, highest, or strongest” care to prevent foreseeable risk of harm.

Examples of behavior that may breach this duty to exercise extreme caution include:

  • Placing, throwing, igniting, or discharging dangerous fireworks at a person or crowd where injury can occur or creating chaos, fear, or panic. California Health and Safety Code 12680
  • Selling, using, or storing fireworks within 100 feet of where gasoline or other flammable liquids are stored or dispensed. California Health and Safety Code 12679
  • Conducting a public display of fireworks without a permit. California Health and Safety Code 12685
  • Sell, give or deliver Safe and Sane Fireworks to anyone under 16 years of age. California Health and Safety Code 12689
  • Possessing dangerous fireworks without a permit. California Health and Safety Code 12677
  • Sell, offer for sale, possess, store, discharge, use, or transport fireworks not registered by the State Fire Marshal. California Health and Safety Code 12671
  • Violating local fire ordinances.

Recovering Compensation After Your Fireworks Related Injury

Fireworks can be incredibly dangerous. Common injuries that result from improperly or illegally used fireworks include burns, loss of eyesight, hearing loss, broken bones, fractures, lacerations, loss of limbs, and death.

If you are injured in a fireworks-related accident you may be entitled to recover compensation through a personal injury claim for damages. This is true even if you were partly responsible for the accident. What kind of compensation can you recover? In California, compensation is generally broken down into two categories.

Economic damages are awarded to compensate for easily calculated losses you suffer after an accident. These may include medical expenses, hospitalization, surgery, or loss of past and future wages. Non-economic damages are awarded to compensate for more subjective losses. These may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, embarrassment, or disfigurement.

Have you been injured in a fireworks-related accident through no fault of your own? Even if you are partly responsible for the accident that caused your injury you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation to learn about the possibility of filing a personal injury claim for damages.

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This article is from Citywide Law Group – a team of Los Angeles personal injury attorneys with a proven track record of success.