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Liability for Florida Fireworks Injuries

The explosive power of fireworks is an effective means to evoke strong emotions – including excitement and patriotism. That’s part of why they are so popular around the Fourth of July. fireworks

But fireworks liability is an important topic of consideration this time of year too because all too often, negligent use or reckless mishandling of firearms can lead to serious injuries.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reports fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fireworks in the U.S., including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 outside and other fires. In addition, hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks-related injuries just in a single year. The majority of those were burns. Injuries were inflicted mostly to hands and fingers, but also to head/ face/ ear and also to eyes. Arms, legs and trunks suffered the rest.

Although we tend to think of sparklers being fairly innocuous, they accounted for more than a quarter of all fireworks injuries treated in emergency rooms. Only about 6 percent of fireworks stemmed from public displays. Others were from illegal firecrackers, small firecrackers and re-loadable shells.

Most victims were between the ages of 25 and 44, though children between the ages of 5 and 9 had an out-sized risk compared to their use. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 2015 was the worst year for fireworks injuries in 15 years, with more than 11,900 emergency room visits and 11 deaths. Many of those cases involved misuse of fireworks or using homemade fireworks.

Depending on the circumstances, a number of different legal theories may apply following a fireworks injury. For instance, if you are injured by fireworks set off by amateurs at a backyard BBQ, you could potentially obtain damages not just from the person who set it off, but from the owner of the property where the incident occurred. The legal theory upon which you might base your case would be premises liability. It’s widely accepted that property owners have a duty of care to invited guests to ensure the property is reasonably safe. That said, people who enter the property are required to use reasonable care, and that could mean keeping a safe distance from fireworks.

We might also find a viable claim in the legal theory of product liability. This would be the avenue we would explore if there is evidence the fireworks were faulty or defective, and that they caused harm even when used as intended.

One might also be able to pursue a claim from a theory of negligence per se, that is negligence based on a statutory violation. State laws restrict fireworks use, as do some local ordinances.

Although fireworks can be purchased in the state, per F.S. 791.02 they aren’t actually legal here. However, they can be used solely and exclusively to frighten birds from agricultural sites and fish hatcheries. If you have ever purchased fireworks from one of those roadside tents in Southwest Florida, you are no doubt familiar with the form you have to sign, attesting that your use will abide this exemption.

If you are injured by fireworks in Fort Myers this year, we urge you to seek immediate medical treatment. Thereafter, consider seeking legal counsel to explore your options for compensation.

Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

Additional Resources:

Firework safety: How to prevent injuries and potential fire hazards, June 26, 2017, By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather

More Blog Entries:

Playground Injuries and the Dangerous Condition Requirement, May 25, 2017, Fort Myers Injury Lawyer Blog