As the result of negligence in allowing a wild-fire to burn unattended, the San Jose Mercury News reports that a former a jury has found a former schoolteacher and her relatives responsible for damages caused by one of Santa Clara County's biggest wildfires. The premises accident occurred after Margaret Pavese illegally began burning paper plates in a 55-gallon metal barrel. The Lick fire burned out of control, damaging 47.760 acres, destroying four homes and 20 buildings in the Henry Coe State Park Area. Also destroyed in the fire were papers a San Jose man - Dan Straus - had inherited from Albert Einstein, including calculations jotted down on onionskin and an envelope.
Pavese was sued for negligence as the result of allowing a dangerous condition to exist.
The concept of "premises liability" provides that owners or occupiers of land have a responsibility to keep their property free from dangerous conditions they knew of or should have known of and/or take reasonable precautions to warn of the unreasonably dangerous conditions.
Here, the jury applied a similar theory to determine that despite Margaret accepting sole responsibility for the accident, the duty to exercise reasonable care and the knowledge of the dangerous conditions created liability on behalf of the other family members. As noted by a representative - "Margaret lit the match, but we were able to convince the jury that the Pareses were all negligent. We really felt we lost a historical treasure."
Because each one of the members were found in some way to be responsible for the danger created, each of the individuals were found to be partly at fault.
Negligence involves the concepts of duty and responsibility. Here, where a duty is found to exist on one party, harm for damage caused by the failure to reasonably comply with that duty may be compensable.
For more information, or if you believe you have been harmed through the negligence of another, please contact the dedicated Sacramento personal injury and negligence attorneys at the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette.