The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff’s analysis of data on nonoccupational, fireworks-related deaths and injuries has shown deaths and injuries occur through the season as late as July 22.
As many of us are getting ready for firework festivities, it is important to remain safe.
Firework Injury Prevention
Fireworks users can reduce the risk of injury by adopting the following safety tips:
- Always follow the directions on the fireworks package, and never modify or experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Never let children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even seemingly harmless fireworks such as sparklers still burn at high temperatures and can cause severe burns if used improperly.
- Only set off fireworks outdoors, away from houses and fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other fireworks.
- Do not try to reignite used or malfunctioning fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergency purposes, and soak any used or misfired fireworks before discarding to prevent fires or accidental ignitions.
Your Legal Rights Regarding a Firework Injury
Whether a spectator at a fireworks show gone wrong or the user of a malfunctioning firework, victims may be able to recover damages for their injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the firework injury, a number of legal theories may apply.
Injured spectators may be able to hold the person or company setting off the fireworks liable through negligence. Even the person or entity that organized the show – including cities that hire fireworks companies – may be liable for failing to properly supervise such the activity. Even though a city’s liability may be limited by state law, entities hiring fireworks companies still have a duty to protect bystanders from injuries. Cities can fail in fulfilling this duty and open themselves up to liability by allowing the use of illegal fireworks or by failing to obtain the proper permits.
When fireworks malfunction and cause injury, victims may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer, the importer of foreign-made fireworks, or the local retail seller. Because all of these entities have a duty to sell products that function properly, they may be liable for any injuries caused by a defective firework. However, the vast majority of fireworks are produced in China, so suing the local fireworks stand operator is often the only way for victims to recover damages. Even individuals who misuse fireworks may still be able to recover damages for their injuries if they can prove that a defect, rather than their negligent conduct, caused the injury.
If you or a loved one suffers a firework injury during the fourth of July season, it may be in your best interest to contact the professionals at Reyes Browne Reilley to learn more about your legal options. A product liability attorney will be able to evaluate your claim and help you determine a course of action.