Independence Day has passed, and hopefully, everyone got through the holiday with big smiles and no injuries.
Yet if fireworks injured you during this holiday, you may need to consider launching a personal injury case to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. If the person who injured you was breaking the law, your case may also be eligible for punitive damages.
Are fireworks even legal in New York?
Fireworks displays can be legal if the display has been issued a permit by the fire department. Usually, these displays will be open to the public and sponsored by the city, an amusement park, or some other organization.
Sparklers are the only fireworks legal for private use. “Sparkling devices” are “ground-based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noises, and smoke.” These devices must be hand-held or mounted on a base or spike. They are limited to sizes of no more than 1 to 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition.
Some counties and cities have enacted local ordinances that make even sparkling devices illegal. For example, sparklers are illegal throughout New York City.
New York law even regulates the dates under which specialty retailers may sell fireworks.
Most Common Fireworks Injuries
The following injuries are very common in fireworks cases:
- Eye injuries
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Hearing loss
- Facial injuries
- Leg injuries
Some injuries are so severe they require amputation, most commonly of hands.
Firecrackers cause 1,300 annual injuries nationwide. 600 of the national injuries that occurred in 2022 came from sparklers. Little wonder, as sparklers burn at temperatures of roughly 200 degrees F. 73% of those injuries occur in the weeks both before and after the July 4th holiday. In 2022, fireworks led to the deaths of 11 people.
Determining Liability in a New York Fireworks Accident
Several parties may be held liable in a New York fireworks accident case.
- The manufacturer
- The retailer
- The entity putting on a fireworks show
- The individual using fireworks illegally
- The owner of the property where the fireworks display took place
Much will depend on the facts of the case. If you burned your hand correctly using a legal sparkler, then the manufacturer may be held accountable. This is especially true if testing the firework reveals that they fall into the 43% of fireworks sold in America that contain illegal components capable of causing severe injury, such as prohibited chemicals, overloaded pyrotechnics, or fuses which do not comply with the law.
If you went to a Luna Park fireworks display and got hit by a firework gone awry, then Luna Park might be the responsible party. If a retailer sold fireworks to a 16-year-old and they set a fire that injured you, then the retailer might be the appropriate party to go after.
In some cases, we’d hold multiple parties responsible. It is up to your New York personal injury attorney to help determine the exact parties who should be named in any given lawsuit.
Proving Negligence in a New York Fireworks Accident
If possible, find and keep the remains of the firework that injured you for testing, or have someone do that for you. Your lawyer may also be able to subpoena firework remains or stock from the responsible party for the purposes of testing. Take photos, if possible. Note whether appropriate safety precautions were taken.
You should also get the names and numbers of any witnesses who saw you get injured. If possible, get the names and numbers of the person who handled or used the firework.
Report the injury to the property owner where the injury took place, and do so in writing.
It goes without saying that you should seek immediate medical attention and follow your medical provider’s instructions to the letter. Save all bills, instructions, discharge papers, and prescriptions. This paperwork will prove vital in your personal injury case.
Get Help Today
Even a fireworks injury case where the owner of the firework was clearly negligent and acting outside the bounds of the law can get very complicated very fast. You can expect the responsible parties to fight back and defend themselves in the hopes that they won’t have to pay for the injury.
It pays to involve a personal injury attorney as early as possible. If you’ve been injured in a fireworks accident, don’t delay. Contact our offices to schedule your free consultation today. We’ll be happy to help you file and launch your fireworks injury claim.