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Personal Injury Damages for Firework Related Injuries

In calendar year 2015, the U.S., Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that there were 11,900 fireworks-related, injuries in the United States.  The majority of injuries caused by fireworks are the result of consumers not using them properly. Common mistakes include lighting the fireworks improperly, lighting the fireworks too close to other people, or lighting fireworks while holding them in one’s hand. Even when used properly, fireworks are dangerous explosives that can cause severe injuries.

However, often firework can malfunction and cause injury.  Improperly manufactured fireworks can explode prematurely, before users have made it a safe distance away.  Also, a defective fuse may ignite the explosive powders in the firework in a way the manufacturer did not intend, causing the firework to explode in an unexpected way. Finally, fireworks designed to soar through the air, such as bottle rockets, can take unpredictable flight paths, injuring onlookers or hitting nearby vehicles and buildings.

Fireworks injuries can be catastrophic and a firework injury attorney should be contacted immediately.  If injury occurs, it is important to immediately take the following steps:

  • take as many photos as possible of the scene, the debris, and the injury immediately.
  • Take the name and address and phone number of every person present who witnessed the accident.
  • Most importantly, keep all remnants of the firework including the packaging and the receipt.

Reported fireworks-related injuries have included  loss of eyesight, burns,  lacerations. punctures wounds and even death.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we urge all our fellow Nevada residents to prevent injuries and have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

The following safety tips can reduce the risk of firework injuries:

  • Always follow the directions on the fireworks package very carefully;
  • Be sure not to set off fireworks near fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other dry debris.
  • 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.
  • Never allow children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even simple fireworks like sparklers have been known to cause injury
  • Never alter or modify or experiment with homemade fireworks.

If you are injured by Fireworks, Know your Legal Rights

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. It is important to contact an attorney immediately if you have been injured by fireworks.

If you are injured as a spectator, you may be able to hold the person or company setting off the fireworks liable through negligence.  This may include the organizers the shows such as cities or hotels that may be liable for failing to properly supervise the activity. Although a city’s liability may be limited by state law, entities hiring fireworks companies still have a duty to protect attendee’s from injuries. Cities and hotels and other show organizers can be negligent in fulfilling their duty to supervise and open the door to liability is their negligence

When fireworks malfunction and cause injury, the injured person may be able to recover substantial damages from the manufacturer, the importer of foreign-made fireworks, or the local retail seller. All of these entities have a duty to sell products that function properly.  Under the theory of products liability, they may be liable for any injuries caused by a defective firework. http://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/fireworks-injuries.html

Over the past decade, thousands of people in the United States have been injured by firework.  Aside from 2005, the number of people injured has risen steadily every year.

Estimated Fireworks-Related Injuries: 2000–2015

 Year                Estimated Injuries                               Injuries per 100,000 People

2015                            11,900                                      3. 7

2014                            10,500                                      3.3

2013                            11,400                                      3.6

2012                            8,700                                       2.8

2011                            9,600                                       3.1

2010                            8,600                                       2.8

2009                            8,800                                       2.9

2008                            7,000                                       2.3

2007                            9,800                                       3.3

2006                            9,200                                       3.1

2005                            10,800                                     3.7

2004                            9,600                                       3.3

2003                            9,300                                       3.2

2002                            8,800                                       3.1

2001                            9,500                                       3.3

2000                            11,000                                      3.9

Source: NEISS, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The estimate for 2003 excludes an estimated 150

emergency department-treated injuries following the nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI. Population estimates for 2010 to 2015 are from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015 (NST-EST2015-01), U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Release Date: December 2015. Population estimates for 2000 to 2009 are from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009 (NST-EST2009-01).Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

People often mistaking think that only the illegal fireworks cause injury.  This is a mistake.  In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, small fireworks accounted for a substantial number of fireworks related injuries in 2017.

Estimated Fireworks-Related Injuries

By Type of Fireworks Device

June 19–July 19, 2015

 

Fireworks Device Type           Estimated Injuries                   Percent (%)

 

Total                                                   8,000                                                   100

All Firecrackers                                1,200                                                   16

Small                                       500                                                       6

Illegal                                      200                                                       3

Unspecified                             500                                                       6

All Rockets                                        900                                                      11

Bottle Rockets                        800                                                      10

Other Rockets                                     100                                                      1

All Other Devices                              3,700                                                   47

Sparklers                                 1,900                                                   24

Fountains                                100                                                        1

Novelties                                 300                                                        4

Multiple Tube                                     400                                                        5

Reloadable Shells                   800                                                        9

Roman Candles                       300                                                        3

Homemade/Altered                           200                                                        3

Public Display                                   200                                                        3

Unspecified                                        1,700                                                     21

 

Source: NEISS, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Based on 208 NEISS emergency department-reported

injuries between June 19, 2015 and July 19, 2015, and supplemented by 31 completed In-Depth Investigations (IDIs).

Fireworks types are obtained from the IDI, when available; otherwise, fireworks types are identified from information

in victims’ reports to emergency department staff that were contained in the NEISS narrative. Illegal firecrackers

include M-80s, M-1000s, Quarter Sticks, and other firecrackers that are banned under the Federal Hazardous

Substances Act (FHSA) (16 C.F.R. § 1500.17). Fireworks that may be illegal under state and local regulations are not

listed as illegal, unless they violate the FHSA. Subtotal estimates are presented below the estimates for firework type.

Estimates are rounded to the nearest 100 injuries. Estimates may not sum to subtotal or total due to rounding.

Percentages are calculated from the actual estimates, and they may not add to subtotals or the total due to rounding.

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Fireworks_Report_2015FINALCLEARED.pdf

Who Is Liable to Pay for Your Medical Bills After a Firework Injury?

Injuries from fireworks can be serious and the medical bills to treat such injuries can be substantial.  Homeowners’ insurance protection is liability coverage is often available, but is it extremely important to contact an attorney first to discuss the facts of your case and determine if coverage applies.  If your or a loved one is injured in a firework accident, do not give any statements until you speak with an attorney.  Criminal laws and contractual provisions apply in every instance. Liability coverage under a homeowner’s policy can cover the medical expenses, pain and suffering  and  property damages.   This means that if someone other than you or a family member sustains an injury in your home or on your property, your insurance policy may pay for their medical expenses. Health insurance will cover any injuries you or a family member may have sustained in a firework accident and should be used first.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may also protect you in the event you are sued for an accident involving fireworks you are lighting which causes injury to a guest or passerby.  For a covered loss, your homeowner’s policy will  pay the cost of litigation including attorneys fees and a judgment, should the person suing you succeed in getting the lawsuit to court. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has found that the typical homeowner’s insurance policy has a liability limit of $100,000. I would advise you to check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage if you typically put on a large fireworks display.

However, if  your state or county has made firework shows illegal in your jurisdiction, and you put on a private show in spite of the law, your insurance company may not be responsible to pay for any damages that you may incur as a result of a firework caused fire or injury. It is important to review your policy for an “illegal acts” exclusion. Because the use of certain fireworks was illegal, you should not have been using them.  Unlike the coverage on your home, the law of negligence would apply to your guests and they would be covered by your policy for your gross negligence in setting off illegal fireworks.

City Of Henderson and Clark County Fireworks Laws

Legal Use of Fireworks in the City of Henderson and Clark County

Only fireworks labeled as “Safe and Sane” are legal for use on private property for one week of the year, from June 28 until 11:59 p.m. on July 4. Safe and Sane fireworks can only be used on private property and cannot be used on the street or sidewalk, or on public property such as parks, schools, or federal land.

Safe and Sane fireworks  should only be used by adults and should be kept away from children. Safe and Sane fireworks can cause serious injury or death to adults and children and can cause fires.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we urge you and your family exercise extreme caution when using Safe and Sane fireworks.

Illegal Fireworks In the City of Henderson and Clark County

Fireworks that shoot  through the air, explode, or rotate on the ground are illegal throughout Clark County, including the City of Henderson. They have been declared to be unsafe because the fireworks user does not have control over where they land, which can potentially cause a fire. Illegal fireworks are usually sold outside Clark County and including on  the Indian Reservation. Those fireworks purchased on the Indian Reservation are expected to be used on the Reservation at a special designated area and should not be transported off the property. If you bring illegal fireworks brought into Clark County or the City of Henderson,  they can be confiscated, and a person possessing or using them can be ticketed. The penalty is a $1,000 fine and/or a maximum of six months in jail.  Private use of fireworks of any kind is not allowed on public property, such as those owned by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Lake Mead Recreational Area, or City of Henderson parks, trail facilities, streets or sidewalks. The use of fireworks on public property can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail as well as the costs associated with resource damage, suppression costs, and injuries.  Safe and Sane fireworks are illegal at any time of year other than the week of  June 28 until July 4 at 11:59 p.m.. on July 4.

http://www.cityofhenderson.com/fire/community-programs/fireworks-safety

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