The Fourth of July celebration is just days away. Traditionally, fireworks have always been part of that celebration. In the state of Virginia, it is illegal for non-licensed, non-professional individuals to use, possess, or sell display or aerial consumer fireworks. This prohibition also extends to firecrackers, mortars, rockets, and any other device that make a detonation noise or involves launching a projectile. Unfortunately, many residents attempt to bypass the law by traveling to other states where these items are legally obtainable by anyone who is 21 years or older.
Fireworks set off by people who are not professionals can be dangerous. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 12,000 people are injured by fireworks each year, and 9,000 of those victims end up in emergency rooms with serious injuries. Nationally, there are at least five victims who are killed each year in firework-related incidents.
Injuries from fireworks include burns, lacerations, fractures, hearing damage, and sight damage. Even legal fireworks can be dangerous. Sparklers, a favorite of many children, are responsible for almost 30 percent of all firework injuries. These items are like blow torches and can reach nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Burns from sparklers can be so severe that they burn skin and tissue right down to the bone.
Liability for Firework Injuries
If you are injured by fireworks, you may be able to file an injury claim, depending on the circumstances of the accident. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of income if you are unable to work while you recover, pain and suffering, and more. A Virginia accident attorney can evaluate your case to determine who is liable for these damages.
The law sets a high standard of duty for anyone who is setting off fireworks. This is why all individuals must be trained, experienced, and licensed to handle these potentially dangerous items. When a firework accident occurs, liability may be against the person handling the fireworks if they breached that duty of care and were negligent or reckless in any manner.
Your attorney will also determine whether the liable party is a private individual, private entity, or public agency. For example, if you were at home in your yard and your neighbor was setting off fireworks that caused your injury, the neighbor would be the liable party. However, if you were at a public fireworks display when you were injured, the entity hosting that display – whether a private organization or a government entity – may be liable.
In some cases, the injury may be due to a defect in the manufacturing of the fireworks. In these situations, the victim could pursue a product liability lawsuit against the company who makes the fireworks for financial compensation for the losses their injuries have caused.
Have You Been Injured?
Firework injury cases can be complex and sometimes difficult to prove who the responsible party is. This is why injured victims should contact a skilled Virginia personal injury attorney to find out what legal recourse they may have for their losses. An attorney can evaluate your situation to determine if it is a premises liability situation, product defect, or some other type of personal injury case.
If you or a loved one suffers a firework injury, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation to find out how we can help.
Our legal team wishes you and your family a happy and safe July 4th holiday!