Fireworks are a common American pastime, especially during Fourth of July celebrations. But they are also dangerous explosives that can cause serious injuries. With such spectacular displays going off at once, it’s not unusual to be lost when trying to determine liability with a firework injury.
Here we’ll list a few tips and details to help you get a better idea of what your next steps should be.
If you or a loved one was harmed by fireworks, contact Zinda Law Group at 888-378-1314 today for a free case consultation.
How Common Are Firework-Related Injuries?
Firework related injuries are common and can be severe. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were around 8,500 fireworks related injuries in 2021, and 9 deaths.
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What Are The Most Common Injuries From Fireworks?
Fireworks are powerful explosives, and can cause awful bodily injuries. The most common injuries resulting from fireworks are:
- Injury to eyes
- Burns on hands
- Facial burns
- Facial fractures
- Hand fractures
- Finger loss
- Hearing loss
Negligence in Firework Cases
If you were not the one handling the fireworks that injured you, one possible route for recovery is that of the individual setting off fireworks. As decent civilians, we owe it to one another to conduct ourselves responsibly and try not to harm others through our actions. This is called the duty of care, and the more dangerous the action being engaged in is, the higher one’s duty of care is, and the more precautions they have to take.
Individuals setting off fireworks, whether they are professionals or amateurs, have a high duty of care to those around them to prevent foreseeable harms, or harms that are likely to result from improperly handling fireworks. When they do not act reasonably in regards to handling fireworks and harm results, they have breached their duty of care and can be sued for negligence.
Evidence of unreasonable conduct that breaches the duty of care in regards to fireworks could include not obeying safety regulations such as maintaining space between spectators and the fireworks being operated, not wearing appropriate safety gear, and not accounting for any unused or dud products.
Product Liability in Firework Cases
It is also possible that the manufacturer or distributor of the fireworks is at fault for your injury. If a product was incorrectly made, packaged, or labeled, the party that made or sold the product could be held liable. In product liability cases, the product was properly handled but malfunctioned due to a defect.
In these cases, it has to be proven that the firework was defective when it was sold to you. If after the firework came into your custody, it was damaged by mishandling or improper storage, the manufacturer will not be liable. In addition, the plaintiff in a firework product liability lawsuit would have to demonstrate that the firework in question was sold to them commercially, by the company in the lawsuit, and that they received an injury from that firework caused by the defect.
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Types of Product Defects
Generally, there are three types of product defects: design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.
Design defects occur when the product is designed incorrectly, in a way that produces the defective result. In a product liability case, a plaintiff will only prevail in a design defect case when he can demonstrate that there is another way to create the product with a different design that is safer.
In an extreme example, a firework without any explosive charge would be far safer to handle than any firework with explosives inside. However, a court is unlikely to consider this as a viable alternative plan because it does not fulfill the primary purpose of a firework, which is to create illumination from an explosive charge.
A manufacturing defect is not built into the product in the way a design defect is. Rather, it is a mistake in making the product which makes it more dangerous.
In most negligence claims, the problem is that the individual who caused the harm was not acting reasonably in regards to preventing his actions from harming those around him. If the court finds that the at-fault party was in fact acting reasonably and with due care, then they are not liable for negligence, even though an injury still occurred. When it comes to manufacturing defect liability, though, it doesn’t matter if the manufacturer did everything they could to prevent the issue, or if there was no way they could have known about or prevented the issue—they will still be liable.
This is called strict liability—a manufacturer is responsible for a product defect if it happens, no matter how many precautions they take. But while a plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the manufacturer breached his duty of care, a manufacturing defect is still an extremely difficult claim to bring in court. This is especially true with fireworks claims: it is difficult to show in court that a product is faulty when more likely than not it has detonated to some degree and so the fault may not be reconstructed.
Marketing defects occur when a product is improperly labeled, which can occur in two ways. The first is that a product has faulty instructions. A product might not have the correct safety instructions, or could even tell consumers to carry out something with the product that is actually unsafe.
The second type of marketing defect is “failure to warn”. In these cases, the plaintiff’s claim is that the manufacturer of the product did not adequately warn consumers of potential dangers associated with their use of it. This theory is often used in regards to lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.
In the case of fireworks, they might have faulty instructions that cause injury, such as telling those handling fireworks to stand ten feet away instead of twenty, or that the firework will detonate after fifteen seconds instead of five. Fireworks that do not stress the potentially fatal dangers in handling any explosive charge could also be a marketing defect, although the plaintiff will have to prove to the court that it was not unreasonable for him not to otherwise know that fireworks are dangerous.
As you can tell, claiming liability in a fireworks case is an uphill battle. If you’re already struggling with injuries and damages you don’t want to have to deal with the frustrations of court. It’s best to acquire an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
Fireworks Safety Tips
Because fireworks are so dangerous, it is paramount that they always be handled safely. These tips are important to keep in mind to avoid fireworks-related injuries.
- Never detonate fireworks inside or near buildings, as this could cause property damage or a fire. Similarly, make sure your chosen surroundings are not too flammable, such as a field of dry grass or a space with a lot of dead leaves.
- Do not make your own fireworks.
- Supervise all children in the vicinity of the fireworks. Avoid letting children handle or play with fireworks.
- Do not be under the influence of any drug or alcohol while you are setting off or handling fireworks.
- Do not smoke or otherwise use a lighter near fireworks.
- Wear safety equipment, especially glasses, to set off fireworks.
- Keep water on hand, in a bucket or a hose, in case there is an emergency.
- Never pick up or try to re-light a firework. If a firework does not detonate, soak them with water.
- Only light fireworks one at a time.
- Never throw or point a firework at anyone.
Injured in a Fireworks Accident? Speak to Zinda Law Group Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a fireworks accident, speak to the experienced and hardworking lawyers at Zinda Law Group today for a free case consultation at (888)-378-1314. Zinda Law Group operates on a No-Win, No-Fee Guarantee, which means that you won’t pay anything unless you receive a favorable verdict in your case.
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