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Tuesday
Jun282016

Rocket's Red Glare: Burns & Other Injuries From Fireworks

Injury Attorney Los AngelesDefective Product Attorney

 

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), about 230 people are rushed to an emergency room daily between June 20th and July 20th each year, because of serious fireworks injuries. More than half of these ER patients suffer serious burns, mostly to hands, eyes and faces. Some suffer fatal injuries.

Many accidents caused by fireworks are the consumer’s fault, primarily due to inattention, inebriation, or the taking of unnecessary risks.

Just remember what happened to New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in 2015. His inattention to which firework he was actually lighting, and an attempt to light it seven times (the wind kept blowing out the flame) nearly cost him his hand, as well as his pro-football career. He spent nearly three weeks in the hospital recovering from burns, an amputated finger and other injuries.

Many times though, fireworks manufacturers are to blame because of defects in design or a lack of sufficient warning or instruction on the packaging.

Fireworks Liability & Negligence

Sometimes, a number of individuals or entities may be found negligent. The responsible party may be a homeowner hosting a party, a fireworks manufacturer, pyrotechnic company hired to set off the fireworks, or the city that hires these companies. Even the importer may be held liable, as the company buying and selling fireworks in the U.S. has a responsibility to provide safe fireworks.

For example, a serious fireworks accident injured dozens of people in Simi Valley, California in 2013. Several injury lawsuits were filed against the Rotary Club of Simi Valley which hosted the July 4th festivities, the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, the City of Simi Valley, Ventura County and the pyrotechnics company, Bay Fireworks of New York.

The family of a pyrotechnic professional killed in 2014 filed a suit earlier this year against the pyrotechnic employers as well as six Chinese companies that designed, manufactured, packaged and sold a truckload of fireworks that prematurely exploded and killed four people in Texas.

California Health and Safety Code regulates the manufacture, transport, storage, sale and use of fireworks through California’s State Fire Marshall. The County of Los Angeles has its own set of regulations with classifications, which may be more stringent than state code. Click state and county fireworks code for more information, including definitions for which pyrotechnics are considered dangerous, exempt or “safe and sane”.

Serious Burn and Explosion Injuries

The problem with serious burns and other injuries sustained around explosive devices like fireworks is the long-term recovery needed. They usually require multiple skin grafts and come with a high risk of infection. Long-term physical therapy may be needed to recover the use of limbs or hands.

Fireworks accidents in particular may require intensive psychological treatment as well, as victims may be severely traumatized when attending a public event or celebrating a holiday that so seriously goes wrong. Heavy scarring or disfiguring injuries that can’t be fixed through plastic surgery may also take a psychological toll.

Treatment, whether physical or psychological, takes time and financial resources – impacting work, family and lifestyles.

Fireworks Safety

To reduce the risk of being burned or suffering other injuries from explosions, follow these safety tips: 

  1. Purchase fireworks approved for consumer use only. If wrapped in brown paper, they’re probably meant for professionals who have the proper safety gear and training, according to the CPSC.

  2. Obey local ordinances – many cities in California will ban all pyrotechnics displays, especially in very dry seasons. (See LA County fireworks info.)

  3. Keep water on hand – buckets of it are good, garden hoses are better.

  4. Don’t let children play with fireworks.

  5. Supervise children with sparklers – festive as they may be, sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit – enough to cause serious burns when mishandled.

  6. Follow the lighting instructions carefully.

  7. Don’t modify the fireworks or experiment with homemade devices.

  8. Don’t light fireworks near homes, dry brush, or other fireworks.

  9. Light only one firework at a time.

  10. Don’t hover over the explosives. When lighting fireworks, try to do so at arm’s length.

  11. Don’t light fireworks inside metal or glass containers.

  12. Once lit, step away. The farther away you can get, the better.

  13. Don’t throw fireworks at another person. Even if you’re expecting a small explosion merely meant to scare someone, you never can predict how badly things may go awry.

  14. Just like a gas barbecue grill, don’t try to relight fireworks that didn’t light properly the first time – soak the duds in water and then throw them away. (In the case of a gas grill, turn off the gas, open the lid to allow accumulated gas to disperse for at least five minutes before attempting to relight.) 

Whether attending a city sponsored show, or just lighting up sparklers in the back yard, always be aware of the safety risks involved with fireworks, as well as who can be held liable for negligence.

The Kardashians found this out the hard way last year, when they set off fireworks and local tempers in Marina del Rey. According to TMZ, a disgruntled neighbor attempted to sue Khloe Kardashian for a permitted, eight minute pyrotechnic display at midnight that allegedly traumatized both him and his dog. When push came to shove though, the plaintiff failed to appear in court.

The lesson goes without saying: a little common sense and a lot of precaution can keep you and your loved ones safe, and out of court as either plaintiffs or defendants.

David B. Bobrosky is a Defective Product Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Los Angeles Employers: Administer This New Policy, Stat!

Lawyer for EmployersEmployment Compliance

by Tal Burnovski Yeyni

818-907-3224

 

In April, we wrote that Los Angeles City Council voted to enact a sick leave ordinance in Los Angeles, which will provide six days of paid sick leave to employees in the city. Last week, the City Council adopted the ordinance and made L.A.’s sick leave policy official

Operative Date and Coverage 

Pursuant to the new Ordinance, every employee who, on or after July 1, 2016, works in the City for the same employer for 30 days or more within a year of employment, is entitled to paid sick leave. Accrual of paid sick leave under the Ordinance must start on July 1, 2016 or on the first date of employment, whichever is later. 

An “employee is defined as any individual who performs at least two (2) hours of work in a particular week within the City (and qualifies as an employee under California Law). 

An “employer is defined as any person, including a corporate officer or executive who directly or indirectly, or through an agent or another person including through the services of a temporary service or staffing agency, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours or working conditions or any employee. 

Thus, per the new Sick Leave Ordinance, the duty to comply is determined by the location of the employee. Further, the Ordinance may place individual liability on officers of the company and creates joint liability for client-employers. In that respect, the ordinance mirrors Labor Code 2810.3.   

Use of Paid Sick Leave

While the California Paid Sick Leave Law requires employers to provide, at minimum, three days or 24 hours (the greater) of paid sick leave per year, Los Angeles Sick Leave Ordinance sets a minimum of 48 hours of paid sick leave per year of employment. Employers may either “front-load” the days or allow employees to accrue one (1) hour of paid sick leave per every 30 hours worked. 

If accrued, employers may place a cap at 72 hours (or higher). Further, the LA Ordinance clarifies that if an employer has a paid leave or paid time off policy that is equal to or no less than 48 hours, no additional time is required. 

The Ordinance is not only more generous in the amount of paid sick leave, but it also defines the permitted use more broadly. Thus, under the ordinance employees may use paid sick leave for themselves or a family member as defined by Labor Code 246.5(a) and 245.5(C), or for “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”   

Practical Implications for Employers

Review sick leave/paid time off policies to verify they comply with Los Angeles’s new requirements. As with state Paid Sick Leave Law any retaliation against employees for requesting to use paid sick leave or actually using paid sick leave, etc. is prohibited.

Further, while the new Ordinance allows employers to require reasonable documentation for absence from work for sick leave, note it is unclear whether this is permitted under California law.

Labor Code 247.5(b) states an employer is not obligated to inquire into or record the purpose for which an employee uses paid leave or paid time off. And in the FAQ regarding the state’s Sick Leave Law, the Department of Industrial Relations stated that if employees are subject to local sick leave ordinances, the employer must provide the provision or benefit that is most generous to the employee. As it is unclear whether “not obligated” is more generous than “may require” employers should consider consulting an employment attorney before asking employees to provide reasonable documentation.

Tal Burnovski Yeyni is an attorney in our Employment Practice Group

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Apr202016

That's Just Sick: Paid Sick Days May Increase in Los Angeles

Lawyer for EmployersAttorney for Employers

 

by Tal Burnovski Yeyni

818-907-3224

 

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to require employers to offer employees at least six days of paid sick leave per year, twice the minimum amount required under California law. If finally approved, Los Angeles will join more than a dozen cities who have established their own paid sick leave standards. 

In yesterday’s meeting, City Council has asked the City Attorney to prepare and present an Ordinance that should include, among others, the following provisions: 

  • An employee who, on or after July 1, 2016, works in the City for the same employer for 30 days or more within a year from the commencement of employment, is entitled to paid sick leave.

  • Paid sick leave shall begin on the first day of employment or July 1, 2016, whichever is later.

  • Employees will be entitled to take 48 hours of leave per calendar year, that must be provided up front by the employer, or accrued at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked.

  • Accrued paid sick leave shall carry over to the following year of employment and may be capped at 72 hours; an employer may set a higher cap or no cap at all.

In response to the City Council’s vote, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the following statement:

Paid sick leave means a world of difference to working people and their families. That’s why it is important for L.A. to not just comply with state law, but take it a step further on behalf of our people. We set a tone for California and the nation by leading on the minimum wage increase, but we could do more in guaranteeing that people's jobs are secure in the face of illness. We are fixing that, and I'm proud to stand with my City Council colleagues on the principle that workers need and deserve these protections.

Final vote on the Ordinance is expected to take place within the next month. We will keep you posted on further updates. 

Tal Burnovski Yeyni is an attorney in our Employment Practice Group

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Feb112015

Cracking Down on Hit and Run Via Social Media

Injury Attorney Los AngelesPersonal Injury Lawyer

 

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

About 80 percent of hit and run cases between 2008 and 2012 in the Los Angeles area were never solved, according to the Los Angeles Times. Compare that to the city of Denver, whose police force actually resolves about 78 percent of that city's hit and run crimes. 

The reason for the difference? A program called Medina Alerts, which works like the Amber Alert system. Medina Alerts is named for a 21 year old Denver valet who was killed by a hit and run driver while on the job. The Medina system was implemented in 2012 and Colorado's governor approved it for state-wide use last year – City Hall officials here in Los Angeles unanimously approved launching a similar program here.

The hit and run crackdown will have several components: 

  1. All Los Angeles city departments will help to put out notifications on the city's Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as the Emergency Management Department's NotifyLA texting system.

  2. The Los Angeles Police Department will post notifications on Nixle – a web platform on which government agencies share information with each other and certain subscribers.

  3. DASH bus drivers and licensed taxi drivers will receive notifications via dispatch systems, and other city employees such as sanitation workers may get the notifications in the future. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft may also participate in the future.

  4. Witnesses can receive rewards for coming forward with information leading to a hit and run arrest: $1,000 for property damage, $5,000 for hit and runs leading to minor injuries, $25,000 for those involving serious injuries and $50,000 for hit and run crimes involving fatalities. 

Hit and run alerts will be initiated only when serious bodily injury or fatalities occur, and if witnesses can provide sufficient information regarding the fleeing driver in terms of the driver’s  physical description,  the vehicle's color, partial plate numbers, make or model, etc.

 

Hit and Run: How Will the Law Change?

California Attorney

Los Angeles City Council asked city attorneys to draft a special ordinance regarding the monetary rewards listed above. Members also voted to support California legislation intended to create a state-wide alert system. Councilman Mitchell Englander said, "these are not accidents – these are crimes" at a recent news conference. 

State Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) introduced California Assembly Bill 8 in December – intended to launch a "Yellow Alert" system for hit and run accidents. Governor Brown vetoed a similar legislative effort earlier last year, amid concerns hit and run notifications would overburden the Amber Alert program.

As for why the City of Los Angeles rather than the state seems to be riding point in this endeavor, Englander explained that the city is better able to implement a program immediately. 

Compensation Following a Hit and Run Accident

The large number of unresolved hit and run cases in Los Angeles serves as yet another reminder of the importance of uninsured motorist coverage. Considering the 20,000 or so hit and run accidents occurring in this city each year, it is the most important coverage drivers can buy.

Such coverage, especially for hit and run accidents, can garner compensation from the hit and run victim's own insurance carrier for property damage, medical expenses, loss of earnings and pain and suffering – up to the limits of the uninsured coverage. Uninsured limits should always match liability limits.

When a hit and run driver is caught, the victim may also be entitled to additional compensation by making a claim against the driver’s insurance carrier. This is especially important if the victim does not have uninsured coverage. 

Additionally, the victim may pursue restitution through the criminal court system—which could include attorney fees for pursuing compensation for injuries and punitive damages for the driver fleeing the scene.  All such damages may not always be recoverable depending on the financial viability of the defendant.

 

David B. Bobrosky is a Personal Injury Attorney and Shareholder at our firm. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, or by phone: 818.907.3254. 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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