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Fourth of July Fireworks and Explosion Injury Attorneys

Independence Day Safety and Fireworks Laws.

July 4 Parade
MAMMOTH LAKES, CA/USA – JULY 4: Independence Day Parade guard of honor at Mammoth Lakes California on July 4, 2011. This is an annual event.

Independence Day arose from our bloody American Revolution. The date chosen to celebrate is July 4, 1776. The real date remains in dispute. But the United States’ holiday became the official national holiday in 1941 (Source.) Each year we celebrate another Independence Day.

The purpose is to hearken the birth of American freedom. The flashes and explosions represent the price paid in wounded, killed and maimed to secure that eroding freedom. And this is the reason we look back and enjoy every Independence Day.

The true Significance of this Grand Holiday and Fireworks.

The 4th of July celebrations typically have become more of a summer celebration than the original intent. The men of the Revolutionary War of the 13 colonies declaring their liberation from Great Britain and the Continental Congress voted for freedom. Two days after the Congress’ approval, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Today 4th of July celebrations begin the day with parades and family get-together. Also, parties, boating, barbecues, and concerts have become a mainstay.

The Rocket’s Red Glare – Bombs Bursting in Air.

The rocket’s red glare and the bombs bursting in air remain a tradition memorializing our many battles for independence from an oppressive, overreaching government. The central authority was taxing us at such a high rate, no one but the King’s Men could make a profit.

An estimated three percent of the populous rose up on behalf of the “fence sitters.” In fact, when the king threatened the colonist’s powder houses, the colonists – who considered themselves English – finally broke into a real bloody rebellion. In fact, they even swore an alliance with France, the enemy of all Englishmen.

Firecrackers or Fireworks?

In any event, bombs, rockets, and small arms fire set America free from an oppressive government. By use of the regular and irregular militia (We the People), the outcome was decided. America ultimately recognized certain of the King’s Rights to lands in America in the Paris Treaty of Peace.

“provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects” (Loyalists); (Source.)

So some would say we were never actually free from the yoke of England. In any event, America gained enough autonomy to believe itself free.

The Misconception of Dangerous and Unusual.

But as society has “progressed,” the government is again slowly taking away your powerhouses. Some would argue the government is doing exactly what King George did. But in my opinion, it would be dangerous and unusual to carry a rifle openly at a shopping mall. So too, it would be just as wrong to launch bottle rockets in a crowded neighborhood.

This common law principle does not bar the use of powder or any small arms (See also the Second Amendment.) It only says the time, place and manner in which you openly carry the weapon remains at issue.

So most local and state laws prohibit non-licensed firecrackers and exploding mortars. And this is why we now attend organized fireworks shows. But even some of those go bad and bomb attendees with flak and artillery. Deaths happen. Explosives, whether legal or illegal, kill. After all, they are inherently dangerous.

As a result of the spirit of revolution, alcohol, and fireworks are usually part of Independence Day celebrations. Apparently, this can become a dangerous combination.

Due to the dangers, fireworks can pose, The National Council on Fireworks Safety has created a list of safety tips.

  • Before purchasing or setting off fireworks check the state and local codes and statutes about the permitted use of this colorful pyrotechnics.
  • Read the description and warning labels before lighting fireworks.
  • Only use fireworks outside. Also, never use them inside of a dwelling.
  • The area where the display will be lit should be away from houses, outbuildings, cars, trees and debris that could catch fire.
  • Wear eye protection when setting off fireworks.
  • Do not light fireworks while drunk.
  • A bucket of water and hose should be near where the fireworks will be lit.
  • When lighting fireworks, move away quickly.
  • If a firecracker is a dud, it is suggested to wait 20 minutes and then immerse it into the bucket of water.
  • Firework disposal should be done by wetting them down and then placing the remnants in a metal garbage container. The container should be away from any combustible materials or structures until the following day.
  • Supervise children even though items like sparklers may seem harmless they can cause severe burns.
  • Fireworks of any kind should never be carried in pockets.
  • Firecrackers of any type should never be shot into glass or metal containers.
  • M-80’s and quarter sticks are illegal explosives and should be reported to the police or fire department.
  • It is dangerous to experiment with homemade fireworks and should not be done.
  • It is against FAA regulations to transport or possess fireworks in baggage.

Fireworks Accident Statistics.

Over 10,000 fireworks injuries took place last year according to research. Also, 11 people died from firework-related incidences. Three of them involved those not engaged in or watching displays. In other words, these deaths happened to innocent bystanders. One young woman died after someone tossed a lit sparkler into her apartment window. So she died from smoke inhalation.

The other two deaths also had no involvement in a fireworks display. Lit fireworks set their roof ablaze. So making all these laws did nothing to protect these decedents. These were all legal. In the three cases, it was people acting unreasonably. This is one reason most residential areas ban bottle-rockets and flying fireworks. But this has never stopped people from throwing or launching fireworks in the air.

The statistics show that sparklers cause children under the age of five accounts for approximately 1/3 of all fireworks injuries and 23% of fireworks injuries.

Fireworks and the Law.

The State Fire Marshal and other legal entities determine the laws for the use of fireworks, which means that some states specific types of fireworks are legal and in some countries fireworks of any kind are illegal. States will have very specific rules about the types of detonation allowed. So they often disallow those that “explode” so as to scatter a flak pattern. So most explosions are illegal.

Also, the can’t launch, even if they don’t technically explode. So ground-based or handheld fireworks can’t propel themselves in the air. Also, regulations exist barring chemical compounds containing more than 100 grams capable of a spark. In many states including California, the illegal firecrackers include ones such as Roman candles, skyrockets, or any fireworks that contain explosives or flammable compounds.

Southern California Fireworks Accident Lawyers

Accidents can happen in the vicinity of fireworks even when a person is a bystander enjoying the show. These mishaps can result in severe injuries resulting in costly medical expenses, loss of income, pain, and suffering, loss of quality of life and other damages.

The seasoned attorneys at Ehline Law Firm have the experience necessary to help you recover financial compensation if negligence caused the harm suffered. Contact our lawyers toll-free at (888) 400-9721 to discuss your case and let our skilled attorneys evaluate your claim with a free consultation.

“Fireworks Safety Tips.” The National Council on Fireworks Safety. Accessed March 11, 2017.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Burn Injuries Spike

Ehline Law Griffin Logo
The Griffin logo of Ehline Law Firm Los Angeles.

Burn injuries within the home increase dramatically from the end of November through January 1st. The answer should be obvious why. The large amounts of cooking for guests and stress related to the holidays cause inadvertent injuries.

And this is especially the case for the most significant number of people coming to eat at your house. When preparing food for Christmas, Chanukah, or any other holiday, it’s important to remember several tips on how to avoid burn injuries during this festive time of year.

Simple Tips Can Save Your Skin.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help.

Don’t be afraid to ask your family members for help cooking. You may be the rock of the family or the house chef, but there’s no reason that others can’t contribute as well. Any side dishes, desserts, or parts of the main course that can become outsourced should be. There are a lot of opportunities to reduce your stress and time used over the stove or oven.

Slow it Down.

With a large crowd coming and the dinner table set and ready for a meal, you may feel especially rushed. But this isn’t the case. There’s always time to double check things, set timers, and make sure that your cooking schedule is not accelerated for no reason. You are in control. Take this into consideration when preparing that meal. You set the time, and you make sure that things get done the way that you want them to be.

Careful When Doing Tricky Cooking.

This one should be obvious but isn’t for many revellers. Instead, more complex forms of cooking present the largest risk of injury. This is especially the case with deep frying turkeys. Such a method provides a delicious meal but can be dicey for amateurs. Make sure that you leave an adequate amount of room. So now, nothing catches fire. Also, make sure that the turkey is placed in the fryer slowly so that oil doesn’t shoot out.

Your Family is Your Rock.

Don’t feel as though everything is on your shoulders. Use this time of year to appreciate all that you do for your family and vice versa. Make it a meal that you want to spend with them, not in the hospital or wearing bandages.

We here at the Ehline Law Firm see far too many cases of injury due to carelessness. Give the EMTs and us a day off this holiday season and be safe!

Taking Legal Action after Football Game Burn Injuries

Burned top of a human foot
Burned top of woman’s foot.

Injuries caused by burns can happen anywhere at any time. From home fires to events at work to those in a car accident, there are many cases where people have suffered severe burns.

However, fans have also been injured at popular sporting events, with football games taking particular attention recently. Any burn that requires medical attention is severe, and the victim should not bear the pain and doctor’s bills alone.

So How Do You Get Burned at a Football Game?

These burn injuries could happen in and around a football field for many reasons. There are incidents when machinery such as lawn mowers or venting reaches a critical temperature that burns the skin of anyone that comes close to it. There are cases where food preparation stands have unsafe practices that lead to onlookers being injured.

Furthermore, there are issues where propane tanks that are used to heat food are improperly maintained or installed. Also, this could lead to a leak that could catch fire or even an explosion. In one case, three people were seriously injured at a high school football game due to a propane tank explosion.

Coping With the Long-Term Effects of Burns Requires Money.

All of these potential injuries have profound effects on the victims. Having to live with the consequences of burn injuries that could cause scarring and disfigurement are jarring. There are also mounting medical bills and potential loss of work to consider. All of these could add up to a perfect storm for a fan that just wanted to enjoy a high school, college, or professional football game.

When all of these factors collide, you need proper medical attention. Having an attorney specialized in the field of burn injuries and premises liability, such as one from Ehline Law Firm is of vital importance. If you are dealing with the reckless party or parties that caused such an accident, along with an insurance company not wanting to honor its policy, a well-read, experienced personal injury attorney makes all the difference. Call for more information or to sit down with one of our lawyers. Also, we can help 24 hours a day anywhere in Northern, Middle, or Southern California, or go here to learn more.

California Law—Negligence and Fireworks Explosion Incidents

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An example of attractive, blonde actress depicting a legal assistant at Ehline Law Firm.

The Fourth of July means cookouts, great foods coming off of the grill, picnics, and watching fireworks with the family. While usually, this is a fun and exciting time, this year the fireworks display in Simi Valley, California was startling. The events that took place approximately five minutes into the twenty-five-minute show.

It occurred when multiple fireworks canisters exploded close to the ground. This resulted in debris to be shot out at nearby spectators causing the crowd to scatter and spectators to be burned and injured.

Simi Valley Shout Out

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this year’s Simi Valley fireworks mishap. Last Independence Day there was a similar incident, with a pyrotechnics display in the San Diego, California area. These two Fourth of July mishaps are enough to warrant exploring the legal issues involved in these types of situations.

In incidences where fireworks malfunctions have legal issues, and these typically will constitute negligence, which can vary between the parties involved in the display of fireworks that include the pyrotechnic professional(s), the manufacturer and the party or entity that is responsible for setting up the fireworks display event.

In incidences where fireworks malfunctions have legal issues, and these typically will constitute negligence, which can vary between the parties involved in the display of fireworks that include the pyrotechnic professional(s), the manufacturer and the party or entity that is responsible for setting up the fireworks display event.

Ordinary Care and “Extreme Caution” Distinguished

Under California law, just as in many other states negligence is established when there is injury or damage caused due to lack of “ordinary care.” In California and other jurisdictions when this involves dangerous activities there is a higher standard required, to use “extreme caution.” When the dangerous activities involve fireworks, then it can be questioned who may be held liable besides the pyrotechnic professional’s company.

An example that is in some ways similar it’s the owner of a shooting gallery, who is held to a higher standard of care. In the case of Warner v. Santa Catalina Island Company, 44 Cal.2d 310, 317; a patron was injured when bullets malfunctioned. The court determined the business should be held to this higher standard, because of the ammunition and explosive materials. The business had the higher standard of care to inspect and test ammunition used in close range shooting, to ensure they were safe before distributing bullets to patrons.

Duty of Care Must Consider the Potential Danger

The California Supreme Court ruled that the duty of care must be proportionate to the risk that may be reasonably anticipated to avoid consequences that could occur. This is then open to reason that the person or entity responsible for the setting up and ignition of fireworks would be held to this higher standard of “extreme care.” One case that mainly addresses this issue is Ramsey v. Marutamaya Ogatsu Fireworks Company, 72 Cal.App.3d 516.

This case involves fireworks display, where the pyrotechnics resulted in a premature explosion causing injuries to spectators, including burns. There were claims brought against the pyrotechnics professionals, the manufacturer and the sponsors of the event. This case also included the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and a Japanese trade organization and was a non-jury trial. The defendants were found liable.

The sponsors of the fireworks display appealed, arguing that their standard of duty was to hire pyrotechnic professionals and were not liable for the negligent actions of these experts. They also argued they could not be held liable for faulty manufacturing or the setting off of the fireworks. The verdict was upheld by the California Supreme Court, who denied the appeal against the sponsors and pyrotechnic professionals. In making the ruling, the court depended upon the Restatement Second of Torts Section 423.

The details were holding employers of parties who engage in dangerous activities to be liable in the same manner they would be with any other contractor the company hires. This part of the ruling can be seen on page 525 of Ramsey. One of the other elements of this case, while the plaintiff brought a lawsuit for negligence, it also included strict liability. The reason for this theory being used was to hold the manufacturer and the individual chain of distribution entities liable for defective products or materials, which in this case were the explosive fireworks.

Plaintiff’s Duty of Care Matters

The other side of this is the plaintiff bringing an action does have a legal responsibility to a certain degree, which is to act responsibly when attending a fireworks display. Legally this is referred to as “comparative negligence and apportionment of fault.” When the individual does not take this responsibility seriously and brings a lawsuit, they may be ruled against, even if they have sustained injuries.

This can be seen in the legal action of Matthews v. City of Albany 36, Cal.App.2d 147, where the plaintiff who suffered harm by an unexploded firework from an event that took place and made the decision to explode it by himself. The court ruled against the plaintiff. This is because the show sponsor or pyrotechnics professional could not be held liable for the incident.

Heightened Standard of Care?

Due to the higher duty of attention, the incident of malfunctioning fireworks in Simi Valley this Independence Day and other incidences of this nature, the civil liability applies. The recent incident like all legal issues will depend on facts. Often these facts are not clear until the investigation has been completed. This will provide answers about if there was a malfunction.

For example, what if the fireworks had a faulty ignition or were defective in any manner? The law is that if there was negligence in the duty of care or caution used in setting the display off there is legal liability.

  • Example of Plaintiff’s Burden versus Burden of Defendant

Another answer that will be necessary is whether the spectators were in too close of proximity to where the pyrotechnic professionals were setting these materials off. For example, were the spectators behind an area that had been marked off? This would speak volumes whether the victims contributed to their misfortune. What was the hiring process by the sponsor for this event of the pyrotechnic company?

The spectators that were harmed may decide to bring civil personal injury claims against the liable entities. But this will depend on a thorough and timely investigation taking place. This study will determine what happened. And it should also provide the information necessary to prevent this type of incident from occurring during any other fireworks display.

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Ehline Law Firm
Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC

633 W 5th St #2890
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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