This year’s 4th of July holiday launched a four-day weekend for many; a much needed break from the every day routine of work. In many cities and towns across the nation the events were more than spectacular, with wide arrays of fireworks, special tributes to fallen heroes and celebrations of what our county represents. For others, however, in a few states, the yearly celebration brought tragedy.
In Simi Valley, Los Angeles, an accident at a fireworks display that injured dozens is under investigation. Initial reports indicate that at least one explosive detonated early inside its canister, causing a chain reaction that propelled other explosives to shoot toward portions of the crowd of 10,000 who were watching the event. Those injured ranged in age from 17 months to 78 years of age. That same day, in Illinois, an amateur fireworks display resulted in a woman’s foot being severed from her leg, and another woman suffering fourth degree burns, the most severe type of burn. Illinois has a ban on most type of fireworks, and the investigation in this case will be tedious to determine the type of fireworks and how they were used at the neighborhood gathering.
Different classes of fireworks are based on how they are transported, but fireworks generally fall into the categories of “consumer grade” fireworks (many of them illegal) and “commercial grade” fireworks (those used by professionals). The fireworks display that went awry in Los Angeles was a commercial grade fireworks display. Product malfunction and defect issues may highlight of the investigation to determine what specifically went wrong in the hands of those professionals. Consumer grade firework injuries are a little trickier, as many operators are not licensed or experienced in safe launching procedures. Many injuries occur among children and teens: children who lean in too close to the sparklers, teens and young adults who launch fireworks too close to their faces or hands.
If you have been injured in a fireworks accident, it’s important to determine whether the firework injury was a result of a commercial fireworks display or consumer grade fireworks event. Investigations in both cases will call for witnesses, documentation, photographs and any contracts that may have been issued or signed by the users. As with any display of fireworks, commercial or consumer, here are some tips to protect yourself:
- Stay away from the immediate area. As evidenced above, being too close can cause severe injury.
- Keep children and pets away from fireworks, regardless of whether the fireworks are small sparklers or minor explosives.
- Be sure you have water close by in case a sudden fire needs to be extinguished.
- Never operate illegal fireworks.
Next year we may see preliminary results published for the year 2013 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding any accidents and incidents involving fireworks. The CPSC has reported in recent years 9,600 fireworks related injuries, many during the period of July 1 to July 4. Regardless of specific statistics, however, we know that fireworks can cause injury, wild land fires, vehicle fires, property damage and death.
If you have been injured in a fireworks accident, or know someone who has had personal injury or property damage because of a fireworks accidents, there may be several elements to a lawsuit. The first step is to seek the counsel of an attorney who is experienced in personal injury cases to help you find resolution to your situation.