What activities are so inherently “dangerous” that they should require extra caution under the laws of the State of California? The legal term used for activities which involve a high degree of risk and require a high level of care is “ultrahazardous”. Whether something rises to the level of being ultrahazardous is a “question of law” (i.e. it is for the court or judge to decide rather than a jury). The factors analyzed in answering this question are as follows:
• The existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to people or property;
• The likelihood that harm from the activity or use of the product will be great;
• Inability of the elimination of the risk by exercising reasonable care;
• The extent to which the activity is not a matter of common usage;
• Does the activity take place in an inappropriate environment; and
• To what extent will the value of the activity to the community as a whole is outweighed by its dangerous attributes.
The term “common usage” means the activity carried on by large percentage of the population or it is something that is fairly uncommon and still inherently dangerous. An example would be the use of noxious potentially toxic materials like sulfuric acid. While this may be common in small quantities the storage of large amounts of such chemicals may be uncommon. If a mining company were to engage in blasting in an isolated area, this may not be deemed “ultrahazardous” but, the same explosion in a populated area may very well be determined to be extremely dangerous to life and limb.

Specific Examples Of Ultrahazardous Activities

California Appellate Courts have provided examples of these activities and the handling of items that are deemed extremely dangerous as follows:
• The use of hydrocyanic acid gas in fumigating a commercial structure.
• Test firing of a large rocket
• Oil well drilling causing a natural gas pressure blow out
• The use of explosives near a residential area.
• Electric power lines are considered dangerous instruments.
• Dangerous instruments can also include fire, firearms, ammunition, explosives, and highly flammable, corrosive or noxious fluids.
Adherence To A Specific Standard Of Care Is Required

California Law states that people engaging in hazardous activities are required to use more than “reasonable care” but, rather “extreme caution”. In fact, California Civil Jury Instruction reads:
“People must be extremely careful when they deal with dangerous items or participate in dangerous activities. The risk of harm is so great that the failure to use extreme caution is negligence.”

One example of this is the participation in a sporting event when that participation includes signing a waiver of liability. People frequently sign these without a second thought and they often have no idea what they are voluntarily signing away. The entity asking you to sign one of these contracts is well aware of the inherent risks and that is why they want a release. When something negative happens there is a clear and immediate need to retain an experienced attorney who is familiar with personal injury claims related to dangerous activities. When something goes wrong the injuries can be catastrophic or even fatal. Consulting a lawyer familiar with the California legal process and duties required of institutions charged with the utmost duty of care to use “extreme caution” can make a huge difference in being able to obtain full and complete compensation for medical costs and expenses and for the physical pain and emotional toll these incidents can cause.

If you or a loved one has been injured during participation in a hazardous event please give The Law office of Guenard & Bozarth a call. We have worked with numerous victims of participation in hazardous events and we can help you! Call us at 888-809-1075 or visit us at http://www.gblegal.com We Can Help!

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