4th of July Fireworks Produce Injuries and Lawsuits

SAUSALITO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–June 29, 2005–As the 4th of July approaches, the explosion of firecrackers, the glow of sparklers and the airborne bursts of skyrockets help usher in Independence Day. Unfortunately, along with celebratory explosions, too often we also hear the sound of ambulance sirens responding to fireworks injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports two-thirds of all fireworks injuries occur in the days surrounding July 4. Over 9,600 people were rushed to emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in 2004, nearly half of them children under 15. Most injuries involve burns, with hands and fingers, eyes, and the head and face the most commonly injured parts of the body. Three quarters of those injured are male.

California is one of 39 states that allow some form of consumer fireworks. In California, only fireworks the California State Fire Marshal has classified as “safe and sane” may be sold, and only from June 28 to July 6. Some California counties have local ordinances banning the sale or use of all fireworks.

Many types of fireworks, including aerial bombs, cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, quarter sticks, and firecrackers with more than two grains of powder have been made illegal throughout the United States by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Using, selling, or even handing out of illegal fireworks for free, or failing to act with care when using perfectly legal fireworks, can lead to serious injury and also to legal liability, according to www.FreeAdvice.com, the leading consumer legal website. While most fireworks injuries are simple “treat and release” cases, many fireworks injuries lead to permanent damage, disfigurement, blindness and occasionally, death. (There were 4 fireworks deaths in 2003.)

Firework injuries, both from legal and illegal fireworks, often lead to insurance claims and lawsuits, most frequently for negligence, where someone fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person should have exercised in the same circumstances. 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.

Fireworks claims also arise when the fireworks were improperly manufactured, such as when the fuse burns too fast and the firecracker detonates prematurely, or contains more powder than normal, or when a pinwheel is inherently unsafe due to a design defect. 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, obey your state’s and locality’s laws, purchase fireworks from a reputable store, and follow the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines at https://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/012.pdf and advice from the National Safe Kids Campaign https://www.safekids.org/tier3_cd.cfm?folder_id=540&content_item_id=1011

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To protect yourself from financial liability, make sure your homeowners or renters insurance has a high enough liability limit, or get an umbrella policy. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, initial costs for admissions to pediatric centers for burn injuries average over $20,000, awhile long term care costs for third and fourth degree burns including hospitalization, skin grafts, and physical therapy, can easily run into six figures.

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 https://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 Sausalito, CA based Advice Company.