A can of spray paint allegedly thrown into a campfire has led to burn injuries for a Maryland teen and reckless endangerment charges for two minors accused of throwing the can. The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office reports that, on the night of Tuesday, October 25, two male minors tossed the can into a campfire in a wooded area of Bel Air. This caused the can to explode. A 13 year-old female standing near the fire allegedly suffered first-degree burns to both of her hands and first- and second-degree burns to her face.
The victim’s mother took the girl to the hospital for treatment and reported the incident to police on Wednesday. The girl should recover fully, according to news reports. Police charged the two boys with reckless endangerment, defined in Maryland law as “conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another.” This offense, a misdemeanor, normally carries a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000, but in this case the defendants are minors. The criminal statute uses the mental state of “recklessness,” meaning that the prosecution would have to prove that the boys acted without regard to a known risk, in this case the risk of an exploding paint can.
From the point of view of a personal injury attorney, the question becomes one of negligence or intent. While reports of the incident give no indication of any civil claim relating to the injuries, the case offers a good thought experiment on how a claim for damages can develop. In this case, the injured girl could make a claim for negligence or for an intentional tort such as battery, depending on the circumstances. “Battery” as a civil claim is an intentional action that results in contact with another person without that person’s consent. It could be direct person-to-person contact, as in a punch, or contact through another object, such as a paint can. A claim for battery would require proof that the boys intended to throw the paint can into the fire and intended for it to affect the girl, although they do not necessarily need to have intended her specific injuries. To claim negligence, she would need to prove that the boys breached a duty of care, such as to not create explosions, and that this breach caused her injury. In either case, the extent of her injuries would determine the amount of damages she could claim.
Of course, damage claims against children run into the problem that children generally have little ability to compensate a victim. In limited circumstances, an injured person can hold parents responsible for negligent or intentional acts of their children. The mere existence of a parent-child relationship does not support this sort of liability. A parent must have been negligent in supervising the child, leading to the actions that caused the injury.
An person injured by another’s intentional or negligent actions often has a claim for damages against that person. If you have been injured in such an incident, contact the Maryland personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen to safeguard your rights today.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Injuries to Minors: Family Settles Personal Injury Lawsuit Over Acid Burn Injuries Sustained by Boy on Playground Slide, Maryland Accident Law Blog, May 28, 2009
Two Kids Suffer Burn Injuries in Washington DC Apartment Complex Playground, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 3, 2008
Baltimore Children Injured In Burn Accidents To Be Treated At Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 22, 2006