As the weather warms and Fourth of July approaches, you may start hearing the familiar sound of fireworks. Different municipalities have different rules and ordinances, so it is always best to check with the local requirements before lighting fireworks yourself. Never assume that because you are able to buy a firework in your area that it is legal to light it. It is also extremely important to remain vigilant at all times – whether you are lighting fireworks or just a spectator.
In 2017 alone there were approximately 12,900 firework related injuries serious enough to require medical attention, and 8 deaths.
Another danger is that you may not know the quality of the firework being lit. Some may be defective and could result in a misfire or flying in a random direction. There are numerous cases over the years involving serious injury from a defective firework. For example, in Calumet County, WI a jury trial was required after a bystander lost an eye from a defective firework. Thus, even the most careful person may not be able to avoid an unknown defective product.
Operator error is also a cause of injuries and damages. Tubes can tip and send fire balls into crowds or structures. People don’t read directions and light fireworks, like mortars, upside down resulting in blow outs. Or, fireworks are aimed improperly and sent too close to spectators. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an average of 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 other fires every year. And, of course, July 4th has the most of any day of the year.
For those suffering injuries or property damage, it can be difficult to obtain compensation. Wisconsin product liability laws require an expert attorney to navigate. Additionally, insurance may not cover injuries or damage or the at fault parties may not have any insurance coverage. Thus, it is best to be as safe as possible and leave fireworks to the experts.
If you or someone you care about does suffer injury or damage, the attorneys at Hammett, Bellin and Oswald LLC law firm can assist in evaluating possible remedies and obtaining compensation for pain and suffering, out of pocket expenses, medical bills, repair costs, lost wages and more. Hopefully it never comes to that, but the statistics seem to show that no matter how much firework education and warning is given, personal injuries and property damage will happen again. So stay safe and enjoy the Fourth of July, but remain vigilant.