Liability Of A User Or Storer Of Explosives For Injuries To Children

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What Duty Does A User Or Storer Of Explosives Have Toward Children?

A user or storer of explosives owes a high degree of care to avoid injury to children who might have access to them.  Further, an owner or occupant who has actual or constructive knowledge of the probable presence of children also owes to them the duty to exercise a high degree of care to prevent their injury from danger which they are too young to appreciate.   A breach of this duty which causes harm to a child may result in the user or storer being held liable for negligence.

What Kinds Of Explosives Have Users Or Storers Been Held Liable For?

Some substances are more explosive than others, and this will dictate the degree of care owed by the user or storer.  Some common examples of explosives which have caused injuries to children include:


For example, one 8 year-old boy was able to recover from a church who put on a festival which included a fireworks display.  The display was put on in a playground commonly used by children.  The day after the display, the boy was playing in the playground when he picked up a leftover bomb which exploded in his hand.  The court held that as to those who had been and were continuing to play on the premises, the defendant was under a duty to use reasonable care to see that, after the exhibition, the ground should be cleared of any dangerous unexploded bombs.

Railroad Signal Torpedoes

A railroad was held liable because one of its employees placed a torpedo on the sidewalk in a street where children were accustomed to play.  When an 11 year-old boy found it, he curiously struck it with a hammer, causing it to explode and injure him.

Explosive Or Volatile Liquids

A plumber who was working in a residence stored gasoline in a house within plain view of children.  A 7 year-old boy who lived in the house got some of the gasoline, carried it to his playhouse, and lit it.  The court held that while gasoline is not inherently dangerous, some degree of care is required when storing it.  Storing it under the residence, where it was easily accessible to children, was a breach of duty by the plumber and made him liable for the child's injuries.

Does A User Or Storer Of Explosives Have Any Defenses Against Liability?

Some users or storers argue that the child who takes the explosive and lights it is comparatively negligent.  However, most courts hold that unless it can be said that the child is of such an age as to possess the capacity to appreciate fully the actual danger involved, his act in taking or firing the explosive does not constitute contributory negligence.

Should I Contact An Attorney About The Liability Of A User Or Storer Of Explosives For Injuries To Children?

If your child has been injured by explosives, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately.  Injuries to children is always a difficult and emotional time, but an attorney can help explain the law and your rights so that you can recover damages for  your child's injuries.

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Last Modified: 10-13-2011 12:27 PM PDT

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