Late on the evening of July 4, 2015, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was enjoying a holiday party in his Florida hometown. He had purchased $1,100 worth of fireworks to give the entire neighborhood a spectacular show, but when he retrieved one from the parked U-haul where they were being stored and lit it, the firecracker exploded in his hand, causing a catastrophic injury that required multiple surgeries and even the amputation of his thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
This high-profile accident threw a gruesome spotlight on the dangers represented by fireworks. Every year, on and around July 4th, 230 people on average end up in emergency rooms across the country after being seriously injured by fireworks. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, these injuries can include:
- Temporary or permanent vision and hearing loss
- Deep and severe burns and scars
- Lacerations from shrapnel
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Sometimes the injuries are fatal. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has documented 106 fireworks-related deaths between 2000 and 2014. This is one of the reasons why New York was some of the strictest fireworks laws in the country. Although some counties have legalized sparklers (small fireworks that produce a shower of sparks and do not explode), this is not a state-wide law, and even sparklers are illegal in New York City and other counties. In places where they are allowed, only adults over 18 may purchase and use them.
Who is responsible?
If you are injured in a fireworks accident, you may be able to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and noneconomic damages. Who is responsible for paying your claim depends on the circumstances of the accident. If another person was careless while handling or lighting a firecracker and you were injured as a result, then they can be held liable. If the fireworks product itself was defective in design or manufacturing, or came with inaccurate instructions, then you may have a product defect case. Common examples include fireworks that are over-filled with explosives or have wicks so short that they detonate too quickly to be lit safely.
Hopefully, you, your friends, and family enjoyed a fun yet safe Fourth of July celebration, but if you or someone you care about ends up injured by poorly handled or designed fireworks, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who can protect your rights and fight to get the award or settlement you need to treat your injuries, compensate you for lost income, and help you deal with any residual trauma so that you can recover. Jayson Lutzky is a New York City attorney who has handled defective product and personal injury cases. You can reach his office at 718-514-6619. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person initial consultations. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more.