The NFPA reports that, in 2013, hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. treated 11,400 people for firework-related injuries. It was estimated that 55 percent of those injuries were to the extremities (arms, hands, and legs), while 38 percent were to the head. On the 4th of July, two out of five fires that are started by fireworks, which is the single highest cause of fires in the country.
These numbers alone prove the severe risks of using fireworks. When firework use is paired with irresponsibility or even the influence of alcohol, serious injuries can easily occur.
Negligence and the Use of Fireworks
Most firework injuries are caused by negligence. An innocent bystander or individual watching the fireworks can easily be injured if the person lighting the fireworks is acting negligently. The injured party does have a potential personal injury lawsuit. In order to proceed with that lawsuit, the injured party would have to prove the following:
- The individual lighting the fireworks had a duty to act responsibly – such as following safety procedures while handling fireworks.
- The individual breached that duty.
- Someone was injured.
- The injured party was injured due to negligence.
Firework Injuries Maybe Product Liability Claims
Sometimes there is no one acting irresponsibly at the time of the injury; instead, the firework product itself was defective. In these cases, the company that manufactured the firework and/or the company that sold the firework could be held liable for any injuries caused by the unsafe products.
Because fireworks are inherently dangerous, the injured party would need to prove that the manufacturer knowingly sold a defective firework or acted carelessly when they designed their firework product. Because it is difficult to prove which point in the supply chain caused the defect, the injured party may need to file a strict liability claim, which shows that the firework was unreasonably dangerous and, therefore, caused unnecessary injuries.
First Try Insurance
If you are in the unfortunate position of having to talk to a neighbor that damaged your property due to an irresponsible firework display, you might want to start by requesting their homeowner’s insurance information so you may file a claim. Dealing with an insurance company may be frustrating, but it’ll be easier than dealing with an individual that might not want to pay anything at all.
If you believe the exchange might be hostile, you can try contacting your local police. Even in states where setting off fireworks is completely legal, the destruction of your property is sure to violate criminal law. The police may be able to assist you in obtaining information to help you file a claim against your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance.
Also, while this might not be the best course of action, you may be able to file a claim with your own homeowner’s insurance. Often, policies will allow for claims to be made due to vandalism, or the negligent conduct of others.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
More likely than not, you can file a civil action against a neighbor that damages your home or property due to irresponsible fireworks usage. If your property is damaged, a strong negligence argument can be made. Even if you enjoyed the show, unless you helped to put it on, you’ll likely have a strong case. If the damages are not too extensive, a small claims action can be filed.
Fourth of July celebrations rarely occur without fireworks. However, the majority of those lighting fireworks for part of the celebration do not use basic safety precautions while doing so, which can lead to serious injury. According to the National Fire Protection Association, thousands of people every summer – typically children and teens – are injured while using fireworks. That is because most individuals do not understand the risks inherent to the celebratory mini-bombs, including devastating burns, household fires, and even death.
The Indiana Personal Injury Attorneys at Glaser & Ebbs are skilled at representing clients and their family members injured in personal injury accidents. It often takes legal action to receive fair compensation in these cases. Contact Glaser & Ebbs to learn more about your legal rights and options.