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The Law and Accidents Involving Fireworks

The Law and Accidents Involving Fireworks
Every year in the months around the Fourth of July we hear about people being injured in accidents involving fireworks. The underlying cause of these accidents often involves an element of recklessness on the part of the injured person. Someone who hand-holds an explosive while its fuse runs out is asking for trouble. But sometimes fireworks can be involved in accidents that are less clearly the fault of the person who gets injured. In these cases an injured person may have the option of suing for compensation. Here are some possible causes of action:
  • Negligence

The most common cause of action in personal injury cases is negligence. In a nutshell, a negligence case asks whether the defendant failed to comply with a legal obligation toward the plaintiff, and as a consequence of that failure the plaintiff was injured. Someone who is lighting off fireworks arguably owes nearby people a duty to light them in a way that will not put bystanders at undue risk of harm. The boundary of this duty quickly becomes clear the more reckless the defendant was. For example, if the defendant thought it would be funny to light a firecracker on someone’s head, and the person suffered hearing loss, this would be a clear case of negligence and probably would qualify as gross negligence due to the particular disregard the defendant showed for the plaintiff’s safety. A defendant can be liable for accidentally causing someone harm as well. For example, a defendant will probably be liable for injuries that result after the defendant throws an explosive into the air with the idea that it will pop overhead, only to have it sail into a crowd by mistake. Negligence claims can be easier to establish if the responsible person was also committing a crime doing the activity that caused the plaintiff’s injury. Here in Clark County use of fireworks is only permitted from June 28 through midnight on July 4, and only products that labeled “safe and sane” list are permitted. Fireworks that explode or fire into the air are generally illegal for consumers to use within the county. Potential plaintiffs may also be violating the law if they are participating in a use of illegal fireworks—an attorney can advise how this may affect a civil case.
  • Products Liability

Everyone understands that fireworks involve a degree of risk. Even a relatively low-risk device like a sparkler can cause minor burns. That probably means that in ordinary use a properly designed and manufactured firework doesn’t create limitless liability for the business that makes or sells it. But a firework can be defectively designed or made in such a way that it is much more dangerous than a consumer will know to anticipate. For example, an unpredictably fast fuse may give users too little time to get out of the way before the firework detonates. In such cases chances are good that other people have been similarly injured and can group their cases together in a class action.

Call a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to discuss your fireworks-related injury

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident involving fireworks and you have questions about how a lawsuit can help you recover compensation, call us today for a free consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

The Types Of Negligence Recognized In Nevada

The Types Of Negligence Recognized In Nevada
Negligence is a commonly used legal standard in many kinds of lawsuits, including personal injury cases. For non-lawyers who are researching their legal options, negligence can be a confusing topic. That is in part because negligence has several variants with their own rules. In this piece we look at the types of negligence that can be found in Nevada civil lawsuits.

“Ordinary” negligence

The most common type of negligence is sometimes called “ordinary” negligence. All other forms of negligence to some degree refer back to the elements of ordinary negligence. A plaintiff who brings suit under a claim of ordinary negligence must show the following elements:
  • The defendant acted negligently by “failing to exercise that degree of care which an ordinarily careful and prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.” J.I. 4.03.
  • The plaintiff suffered an injury or property damage.
  • The defendant’s negligence was a proximate or legal cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
  • The plaintiff’s injuries resulted in damages that can be compensated through a legal process (in other words, the plaintiff’s injuries can be reduced to a dollar value).
The element of proximate or legal cause can be the lynchpin of a negligence case. In formal terms, a proximate cause produced the injury “in the natural and continuous sequence.” Nev. J.I. 4.04. Proximate cause is sometimes referred to as a “but for” test: but for the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff would not have been injured. Legal arguments around proximate cause often focus on intervening causes that might have disrupted the “natural and continuous sequence” between the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injury. A legal cause is simply a cause that was “a substantial factor in bringing about the injury.” Nev. J.I. 4.04A. A legal cause argument is used in place of the proximate cause test when the plaintiff’s injury may have had two causes, and either of those causes would’ve caused the injury by itself. Wyeth v. Rowatt, 126 Nev. 446, 464-65 (2010).

Other forms of negligence

There are several other kinds of negligence that you may run across. A lawsuit may claim more than one type of negligence, hoping to prevail on the most serious one.
  • Gross negligence is a variety of negligence that can apply where a defendant has acted especially badly. What differentiates gross negligence from ordinary negligence is the degree to which the defendant has acted without care. Nev. J.I. 6.21. The Nevada Supreme Court has described it as an “indifference to present legal duty . . . [an] utter forgetfulness of legal obligations so far as other persons may be affected.” Hart v. Kline, 61 Nev. 96 (1941).
  • Negligence per se is a special variety of negligence that arises in cases where the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury by violating a statute that was designed to protect a class of persons to which the plaintiff belongs. Barnes v. Delta Lines, 99 Nev. 688, 690 (1983). An example of a negligence per se situation might be a car accident caused by someone running a red light.
  • Comparative negligence is a legal defense that a defendant uses to reduce the amount of damages they owe by the extent to which the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the injury. A jury will assign the plaintiff’s negligence a percentage of responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence statute, NRS 41.141, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, he or she cannot recover anything.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer about negligence

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have deep experience with negligence cases of every stripe. If you have questions about how negligence might fit into a dispute, we are happy to help. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.