Independence Day may be over, but the resulting damage continues to cause trouble for local police and fire departments. Illegal fireworks, as well as legal fireworks used incorrectly, wreaked havoc across the United States, and the Sacramento area was no exception. The official numbers of how many fires were caused by fireworks in the Sacramento area over the weekend will be released later today. In an interview with Fox 40, Sac Metro Fire Captain Michelle Eidam noted, “[t]he saddest part . . . is, often it’s not the person who lights the fireworks who’s house got damaged.”
A home in Carmichael was severely damaged after fireworks ignited a plastic garbage can and then traveled to the home, causing over $100,000 worth of fire damage. The cars in the driveway were ignited along the way. Yesterday, a home in Antelope experienced severe fire damage as well, after someone in the neighborhood set off Bottle Rockets that ignited and traveled to their home, burning holes in their roof. And two South Sacramento homes were damaged over the weekend after someone threw a firework in the air that ignited a dry juniper tree into flames near the properties.
The Sacramento Fire District is bracing for more incidents over the next couple days, as people deplete their fireworks supplies for the year. The fire captain emphasized safety, reminding people to stay away from trees, dry grass, homes or other things that could catch on fire and to douse fireworks in water before disposing of them to make sure they are fully extinguished.
If someone has damaged your property due to their mishandling of fireworks, you may be able to hold them liable under a theory of negligence. Contact a California personal injury attorney for a free case consultation.
Independence Day festivities involving fireworks escalated too far this weekend according to the NY Daily News, as police officers and civilians suffered hospitalizations and serious injuries from coast to coast. Both a 31-year old Nebraska man and a 9-year old girl in Los Angeles lost a hand due to illegal activities involving explosives, and a small girl in Compton suffered severe blast injuries to the face. Plenty of other people across the nation suffered injuries from explosions this weekend, including a man in Auburn, Washington who lost a hand while holding fireworks that exploded and two officers in Chicago who were at the receiving end of “half a stick of dynamite” tossed from a red Toyota Camry.
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), during the month around July 4th, 230 people on average go to the emergency room every day with injuries caused by recreational explosives. In addition, an estimated 10,500 fireworks-related injuries were treated in US hospital emergency departments during 2014. 67% (roughly 7,000) of those injuries in 2014 took place between June 20 and July 20, illustrating the danger of overzealous Independence Day celebrations. In light of these statistics, it is important to exercise a bit of caution while enjoying Independence Day festivities.
In California, people are held liable for “ultrahazardous” activities regardless of the degree of care they exercise. However, courts have found fireworks not to be these types of “ultrahazardous” activities, and therefore liability for injuries caused by them is decided by traditional negligence principles. If one wielding fireworks breaches his or her duty of ordinary care in handling them, and such breach causes harm, the wielder is liable for the resulting injuries. Liability will be diminished in proportion to the percentage of fault attributable to the one injured. Consult an experienced California personal injury attorney if you or someone you know has been injured by the negligent handling of fireworks.
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