The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a big one for many Americans: a time for cookouts, fireworks, family, and friends. But when an accident happens on the fourth–especially when it involves fireworks–the impact can be life-altering.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Report
Fireworks-related injuries and deaths have been increasing in recent years, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission most recent report estimates that there were 15,600 fireworks-related injuries in 2020, an increase of more than 5,000 from the year before.
Despite the fact that fireworks are dangerous, any fireworks accident lawyer serving Northern New Jersey will tell you that victims of fireworks accidents are not always to blame: in many cases, the victim may even have a legal case. In this article, I’ll go over some of the most common legal frameworks for fireworks accidents we see at Buttafuoco & Associates, and discuss how a lawyer may be able to help.
Types of Firework Accidents
Legally speaking, personal injury fireworks cases fall into several different categories, but the most common are cases of negligence or product liability.
Negligence: Legally, negligence is when an individual fails to exercise the expected degree of care to avoid injury to others. In the case of fireworks, the operator has an increased duty of care due to the dangerous nature of the product. This is similar to operating heavy machinery or even driving a car. In short, if someone fails to exercise a reasonable amount of care when operating fireworks, and this directly contributes to the injury of another, it’s a case of negligence.
Keep in mind that since New Jersey is a contributory negligence state, even if you partly contributed to the accident, you may still have a case; you can reach out to Buttafuoco & Associates for a free consultation with a Northern New Jersey fireworks accident lawyer to learn more.
Product Liability: Product liability is when a product’s design, lack of proper warning, or defect in its manufacturing directly contributes to damages. In other words, if your fireworks are defective in some way, and that contributes to your injury, you may have a product liability case. In this situation, your personal injury claim would not be against the individuals operating the fireworks, but instead the manufacturer. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have worked on a range of product liability cases, ranging from automobiles to household appliances. Because these cases can be complicated, working with a lawyer is often a good idea.
Can I Sue a Company or Public Agency for Fireworks Related Injuries?
So far, we’ve discussed fireworks injuries with special attention to private fireworks displays. In negligence cases, the defendant responsible for the accident is often a private individual; while these cases are the most common, private fireworks displays are not the only ones where accidents occur.
At large-scale municipal and corporate fireworks displays, professionals operate the fireworks, so injuries are less frequent, but they do happen. It’s important to note that these cases are often more difficult and complex, since large organizations tend to have large legal teams on retainer. Additionally, there could be a multitude of parties responsible for your accident, including individuals and corporate entities. If you were injured at a municipal or corporate fireworks display, it’s essential to reach out to a fireworks accident attorney in Northern New Jersey.
How Can I Practice Fireworks Safety?
According to the National Safety Council, fireworks start upwards of 18,000 fires each year. They also injure tens of thousands of people annually. Most fireworks are against the law in New Jersey, including explosive and aerial fireworks, bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers. However, even options that are legal in the state (including sparklers, party poppers, and snappers) carry their own set of risks.
Here’s a quick rundown of some firework safety tips. Enjoy fireworks by attending an expert-run fireworks show run by your city or town. If you decide to use fireworks at home, only do so when you are sober and make sure they are legal. If you start a fire or injure someone, you could face major fines and legal repercussions.
Never allow young children to handle fireworks, and only allow older kids to use them under strict adult supervision. Kids are notorious for doing dangerous things like throwing fireworks at each other, or uncontrollably shooting them off near people, houses, or flammable materials. This can obviously lead to serious accidents or even deaths.
As far as fireworks etiquette, to keep everyone safe, never light more than one firework at a time, and once it is lit, back away to a safe distance. Because fireworks can easily start fires, have a bucket of cold water at the ready where you can soak used fireworks (or those that malfunctioned) for a few hours before disposing of them.
Also, while many of us assume that sparklers are safe because they are legal, they are in reality incredibly dangerous because they reach temperatures of 2000 degrees. If one catches a piece of clothing on fire or a child accidentally touches a sparkler to their skin or someone else’s, it could lead to serious burns and a visit to the emergency room. Glow sticks are a good alternative, and kids tend to love these.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
If you have been injured in a fireworks accident, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have extensive experience in personal injury cases and product liability, and are committed to fighting for our clients’ rights to get them the best settlement possible.
To find out whether you have a case, get in touch with us today for a free consultation at 1-800-NOW-HURT.