Discharging Illegal Fireworks, Liability for Injuries

How Connecticut courts treat certain ultra-hazardous activities.

            Unfortunately, everywe hear about accidents involving fireworks, and this year was no different. In Guilford, CT a man lost two fingers and a thumb as a result of illegal fireworks, according to police. A question was posed to me this week about liability involving fireworks in Connecticut. I was asked: "who would be responsible for injuries resulting from the illegal discharge of fireworks?"

The Courts in Connecticut recognize the doctrine of strict liability for and imposes it in limited circumstances. In strict liability cases, just as in negligence, a defendant’s activity must be the proximate cause, or the actual cause that is a substantial factor in the claimed harm, thereby causing the injury.

In Connecticut, strict liability was originally reserved for ultra-hazardous activities such as blasting and explosives. This category was later extended to pile driving and experiments involving highly volatile chemicals. In 2000, the case of Lipka v. DiLungo extended strict liability to the illegal discharge of fireworks.

In a strict liability case, the Plaintiff is not required to establish that his loss was caused by the . It is sufficient to merely show that the Defendant engaged in an ultra-hazardous activity that caused the Plaintiff’s loss.

The Connecticut Supreme Court in Caporale v. C. W. Blakeslee & Sons, Inc. stated that in order to impose liability without fault, the following factors had to be present:

  1. An instrumentality capable of producing harm;
  2. Circumstances and conditions in its use which, irrespective of lawful purpose or due care, involve a risk of probable injury to such a degree that the activity fairly can be said to be intrinsically dangerous to the person or property of others; and
  3. A causal relation between the activity and the injury for which damages are claimed.

So, if someone is injured through the illegal discharge of fireworks then liability would attach to the Defendant by virtue of strict liability.

Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state.  A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a Connecticut Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents."  He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.




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