Dangerous Fire Pits and Government Liability

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Recently, a 5-year-old boy suffered second- and third-degree burns after falling into a firepit on a Southern California beach. As the summer months approach, and the weather warms up, more and more people of all ages are spending time in the evening hours around backyard and ocean side fire pits. While a fun idea, and a great way to stay warm under the evening stars, fire pits can lead to serious injury.

Unfortunately, over the years, So Cal beaches have seen many fire pit accidents, especially those involving young children. Fire pits can smolder for up to 24 hours in spite of being covered with sand, locking in the heat even if the flames are out. UC Irvine Medical Center, which has Orange County’s only American College of Surgeons-verified burn center, typically treats two dozen people hurt by fire pits and barbecues each summer. If you or a loved one was injured while playing around a fire pit that was supposedly ‘put out’ you should reach out to an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to discuss your potential for financial recovery.

Some factors that a personal injury lawyer will look into include whether the pit was properly covered, whether there were visible warning signs, and whether the fire ring was in disrepair or broken; perhaps causing the child to trip and fall into the fire pit. If someone else’s negligent resulted in your loved one’s injury, you just might have a case.

Government liability is always a possibility in these types of cases. For example, last year, a father filed a lawsuit against the city of Huntington Beach alleging that the city was responsible for his son’s injuries. The boy, who was 6 at the time of the incident, was flying a kite near his father on the beach when he fell backwards into the fire pit, which still had a smoldering fire in it.

Under California law, a governmental entity can be held liable for dangerous condition of public property. In such cases, the plaintiff (the person injured) must prove that the property was in dangerous condition; that the hazardous condition caused the victim’s injuries and that the governmental entity knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and should have fixed it. Not surprisingly, lawsuits against governmental agencies can be extremely challenging. An experienced  personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled claims against governmental entities will be able to assist you in defending your legal rights. If this is your situation, do not delay: a personal injury claim against a governmental agency must be filed within six months of the incident or else the statute of limitations will run out.

For more information on government liability for personal injury claims, including fire pits, contact BIKLAW today.

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