ny fireworks injury law
June 30, 2005 08:32 AM US Eastern Timezone
Advice to New Yorkers on Avoiding Fireworks Injuries From FreeAdvice.com
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 30, 2005--Fireworks are illegal throughout New York State. Yet, as the 4th of July approaches, the sound of exploding firecrackers can be heard everywhere, sometimes followed by ambulance sirens responding to fireworks injuries. Using, selling, or even handing out illegal fireworks also can lead to legal liability, says www.FreeAdvice.com, the leading consumer legal website.
Two-thirds of all fireworks injuries occur in the few days surrounding July 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2004, over 9,600 people were rushed to emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, nearly half of them children under 15. Most fireworks injuries are simple "treat and release" cases that involve burns, with hands, eyes, and the head the most commonly injured parts of the body. Unfortunately, fireworks injuries often cause permanent damage, disfigurement, blindness, and, occasionally, death. (There were 4 fireworks deaths in 2003.)
Certain types of fireworks, including aerial bombs, cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, quarter sticks, and firecrackers with more than two grains of powder, are illegal in all 50 states under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
New York is one of only 5 states that ban all consumer fireworks -- Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island complete the list. Mere possession or use of fireworks is a "violation" under New York's Penal Code, while the sale of fireworks can be class A or B misdemeanors; repeat offenses are class E felonies.
Although New York's fireworks laws look tough, the Legislature has found them to be ineffective, producing few arrests and fewer convictions. Since 1996, there were only 63 fireworks convictions statewide, and changes to tighten New York's fireworks laws are pending.
Firework injuries often lead to insurance claims and lawsuits. Typical claims arise when camp counselors allow children to light firecrackers, or to pick up what seemed to be an unexploded "dud." In such "failure to supervise" situations, the camp's owners and managers are also liable for the injury. Other fireworks claims arise from manufacturing defects, such as when the fuse burns too fast and the firecracker detonates prematurely. In such cases the manufacturer, the distributor and the vendor of the fireworks each could be liable.
The best thing to avoid the tragedy of fireworks accidents is not to use them, and stay far away from those who do. If you can't resist, follow the Consumer Product Safety Commission's guidelines at http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/012.pdf.
To protect yourself from financial liability, make sure your homeowners or renters insurance has a high enough liability limit. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, initial costs for admissions to pediatric centers for burn injuries average over $20,000, while long term care costs for third and fourth degree burns, including hospitalization, skin grafts, and physical therapy, can easily run into six figures.
Robert K. Scott of Advocate Law Group in Irvine, California, who is one of the nation's leading insurance lawyers, warns that "the equity in homes, fueled by the recent increases in home prices, makes everyone's home a tempting target. An umbrella policy that supplements your homeowners is inexpensive and provides peace of mind."
If you or a family member is injured in a fireworks accident, even if you don't intend to sue, it's wise to immediately consult with a personal injury attorney. Those listed on FreeAdvice's affiliate www.AttorneyPages.com provide free initial consultations, so you can understand your rights and make an informed decision on what steps, if any, you should take, at no cost. For more information on negligence and other liability issues, see http://FreeAdvice.com/index_injury.htm.
www.FreeAdvice.com is the nation's leading consumer legal website. For nearly a decade, this award-winning, user-friendly site has provided the public with plain English answers from leading attorneys to thousands of the most common legal questions. Consumers also can ask questions and get answers on the site's forums. FreeAdvice.com is a unit of Advice Company with units in Manhattan and headquarters in Sausalito, CA.