Summer is well underway as families around the country get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July in traditional explosive fashion. A fireworks injury is a sure way to put a damper on the festivities.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks are behind 230 emergency room visits each day in the month surrounding Independence Day.
To prevent accidents:
- Supervise young children – they should never play with or light fireworks. Even sparklers are dangerous, burning at about 2,000 degrees.
- Do not buy fireworks in brown paper packaging – they may be professional grade and more dangerous for consumers.
- Steer clear of fireworks even after they have been lit – duds can ignite spontaneously and already-used fireworks can start a fire.
- Only buy or use fireworks if they are legal in your area.
Caution can prevent most firework injuries
Most of the nearly 9,000 annual fireworks injuries occur at home and could be avoided.
Some of the most common –and preventable – causes include:
- Making homemade fireworks
- Letting small children play with sparklers, accounting for nearly 20% of the related emergencies
About a quarter of the injuries, however, were the result of malfunction.
Large public fireworks displays are less likely to cause injury but when they do occur, the injuries can be serious and include burns, head injuries, lacerated or amputated fingers, and blinding eye damage. While professional fireworks displays are often subjected to more careful preparation and safety checks than backyard displays, a malfunctioning professional grade firework brings in large crowds of onlookers who are potentially in the line of fire.
Firework injury victims have legal rights
Whether a fireworks injury is caused by misuse or manufacturing defects, a victim may be entitled to hold the person or company behind it responsible.
When the accident is caused by someone’s mistake, they may be liable under a theory of negligence. This means that the person or company was under a duty to do or refrain from doing a certain thing, and that by failing at the duty, they caused the injuries. For example, fireworks companies have a duty to comply with local laws that dictate what type of equipment must be used to stand fireworks to prevent a tip-over. If the company uses a different type of stand and it tips over, causing injury, the victim would have a strong argument for negligence.
If a fireworks injury is caused by a malfunction, the victim may be entitled to recover from the manufacturer or distributor under product liability laws. There may be multiple potential defendants involved in this type of case because many fireworks are manufactured in China, making it more difficult to bring the manufacturer in as a party.
If you have been the victim of a firework injury, you may be entitled to compensation for losses including past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any loss of body function caused by the accident.
To learn more, speak with a personal injury attorney at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye. To schedule a free consultation in Long Island or the greater NYC area, call 1-800-469-7429.
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Fireworks Information Center, http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks/
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2014 Fireworks Annual Report: Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department-Treated Injures, and Enforcement Activities During 2014, http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Research-and-Statistics/Injury-Statistics/Fuel-Lighters-and-Fireworks/Fireworks_Report_2014.pdf