December 5, 2016 Category: Burn Injury
In of the worst tragedies in the history of California over 36 people were pronounced dead after a deadly fire consumed a warehouse in Oakland, California. Investigators are still investigating the warehouse fire but early reports do not indicate the cause of the fire. No one has attributed the fire to arson.
The warehouse was apparently being used for a late night dance party where partygoers pay for admission. There is no indication that the persons or company who sponsored the party had a business license or lawful authority to host such an event. The owners of the building may be held responsible for the tragic deaths and multiple burn injuries suffered by the survivors of the fire. All of the persons injured in the fire and the families of the deceased will potentially have viable injury claims against both the owners of the building and the persons or company who hosted the dance party.
1. Liability for Burn Injuries — Premises Liability in California
A property owner is responsible for any dangerous condition on his or her property for which they have actual or constructive notice. Moreover, ”Where the dangerous or defective condition of the property which causes the injury has been created by reason of the negligence of the owner of the property or his employee acting within the scope of the employment, the owner of the property cannot be permitted to assert that he had no notice or knowledge of the defective or dangerous condition in an action by an invitee for injuries suffered by reason of the dangerous condition. Under such circumstances knowledge thereof is imputed to him.” (Hatfield v. Levy Bros. (1941) 18 Cal.2d 798, 806).
With respect to a building fire, a personal injury lawyer may not always have direct evidence that wiring or other condition of a building was a fire hazard. However, a building owner can be held liable for negligence as a result of a building fire if they failed to maintain their building including any faulty wiring which led to a fire and caused personal injuries to persons using the building. In the case of the Oakland fire, if the owners of the building failed to inspect or maintain the building which resulted in an increased risk of a fire occurring on the premises, they may be held liable for the injuries including wrongful deaths of the concert attendees.
Moreover, if the owners of the building had knowledge that concerts and/or dance parties were being held at their building and they failed to make sure the building had proper sprinklers and ingress and egress locations for patrons to leave in case of a fire, then the owners of the building can also be held liable for the tragic injuries suffered at the warehouse.
2. Negligence or Strict Liability for Fire Injuries
The promoters of the warehouse dance party in Oakland may also be held liable for injuries suffered at the building under a general theory of negligence or even a strict liability theory in California. As with any concert or event where a promoter is inviting persons to attend an event they have a duty to use reasonable care to avoid creating risks of harm to the concert goers. If the promoter breaches their duty of care and the breach causes injuries, the injured party may bring a claim for damages including one for personal injuries which would include bodily injuries, pain and suffering and even wrongful death for family members who persons who die as a result of a concert promoter’s negligence.
Moreover, in some situations a skilled injury attorney may be able to prove that a promoter is liable for strict liability if they can show that the promoter engaged in an inherently dangerous activity when putting on the concert. To prove a case of strict liability, a claimant would have to establish:
- The civil defendant was engaged in an ultrahazardous activity;
- The plaintiff or claimant was harmed;
- The injury or harm suffered would be the kind anticipated as a result of the risk of harm created by the ultrahazardous activity; and
- The civil defendant’s ultrahazardous activity was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s harm.
Typical ultrahazardous activities may include hauling or maintaining flammable materials such as gasoline. Ultra-hazardous activities may also include keeping a dangerous animal on your premises such as having a pet lion. In the case of the warehouse fire, if the there were pyrotechnics which were involved in the party and the fire was started leaving the patrons unable to exit the property, such activity may be deemed ultrahazardous under California personal injury law.
Perhaps the worst injuries one can suffer as a result of negligence are burn injuries as they are extremely painful and can leave a lifetime of scarring and treatment. In addition, fires can and in many cases do result in the wrongful death of others whether it is from burns or smoke inhalation. If you or a loved one are injured in a fire related accident and have suffered injuries, we recommend you consult with an experienced Los Angeles burn injury lawyer.