Several children were among the 13 people injured in a chemical explosion at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno, Nevada, recently. Official reports state that the explosion occurred when presenters demonstrating a “smoke tornado” caused the blast with a faulty mixture. None of the injuries were life-threatening. According to police reports, seven children and two adults were transported to a local hospital. Four other people were treated at the hospital and released. All of those taken to the hospital had suffered minor burn injuries. Presenters at the museum were attempting to create a “smoke tornado.” A smoke tornado is a visual demonstration using a mixture of alcohol and boric acid. There was apparently a problem with the batch used that caused the experiment’s malfunction and subsequent blast. Despite the explosion, no fires erupted and museum staff were able to contain the damage to a relatively small area. The museum is largely focused on children and offers interactive exhibits in earth science, astronomy, history and other subjects.
HOSTS HAVE A DUTY OF CARE
Unfortunately, this is not the first time an oversight by a hosting institution has led to injury to guests. In 1999, more than 27 people were injured and 11 were killed at Texas A&M University when a periphery around its annual bonfire collapsed. In 2013, two boys in Maryland were hospitalized after suffering burns during a supervised bonfire party when a 12-year old boy poured gasoline onto the camp fire. The boy’s action started a flash fire which injured him and an 11-year-old party guest. It is important to note that property owners have a duty of care to protect visitors from harm and may be held liable if they fail to do so. Museum authorities have a responsibility to protect visitors from violence by non-employees while at their locations, as well. In 2009, a white supremacist entered a Washington D.C. Holocaust memorial and opened fire on staff and visitors. 88-year-old James von Brunn killed a security guard and injured two other people. This year, three more people were killed at another Holocaust memorial museum in Brussels, Belgium. Owners and managers of locations open to the public have an extended duty of care beyond simply ensuring that no one suffers a fall or accident; they are also required to take reasonable precautions to prevent other types of injury and violence as well.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF SOMEONE ELSE’S NEGLIGENCE CAUSES A SERIOUS INJURY?
If you or someone you love has been injured due to the failure on the part of a hosting institution such as a museum to exercise due care, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment and other costs. Do not delay in seeking legitimate financial compensation; hesitancy may negatively affect your claim. The lawyers at Bernstein & Poisson in Las Vegas are here to fight for your rights. For a free consultation, contact them today.