Summertime signals the time for parties, barbecues, concerts, and shows, including fireworks. The closer we get to the 4th of July, the more people will be tempted to light fireworks on their own, in addition to the big displays put on by organized groups.
If you choose to shoot off fireworks, you need to be careful for your own physical safety and for your financial safety. You could face tremendous costly liability if you don’t take the right precautions.
Accidents Can Equal Legal Negligence
Many people think that they can’t be held legally liable if they hurt someone by accident. That is not true. When you act in a manner that is considered “negligent,” then you are legally responsible for the consequences. That means you could be required to pay for someone’s medical bills, time they miss from work, and for the pain and suffering they go through. It can add up to serious money.
So what is negligence? There are thousands of court cases discussing the nuances of the law in Florida, but essentially, you can be held responsible for someone’s injuries when:
- You owe them a duty to behave responsibly
- You fail to fulfill that duty
- Your failure to act responsibly causes them harm
With regard to fireworks, you owe a duty to the people in your neighborhood to follow the laws and not put them in danger. If you breach that duty by lighting off fireworks illegally or not following safe practices and someone gets burned as a result, you could be held liable for their injuries. Your homeowner’s insurance might cover the claim, but it is also possible that your policy has an exclusion that covers fireworks. It would be worthwhile to check that out before lighting the fuse.
What Happens When You’re Hurt on Someone Else’s Property?
If you are hurt by negligence with fireworks on someone else’s property, they may be held liable just as you would be if they had been hurt by your actions on your property. Again, the homeowner’s insurance may cover the claim unless there’s an exclusion.
If you are hurt on public property during a professional fireworks display, it may be possible to hold the host organization liable, or the company contracted to provide the fireworks, or others connected with the event. It all depends on the situation and on determining who acted improperly. For instance, if injuries were due to a defective mortar or artillery shell, the company that made the products could be legally liable. If the injuries were caused by a mistake in handling the fireworks, then the pyrotechnician could be liable. On the other hand, if the host organization prepared a seating area that was too close for safety, the organization’s insurance may end up covering the claim.
More Information About the Safe Use of Fireworks
It is important to take serious precautions with all forms of fireworks. Even devices considered to be “safe” for children can be very dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that sparklers, for instance, burn at a temperature of up to 2000 degrees, capable of melting metal, and that emergency medical departments treat over 1,000 injuries caused by sparklers every year. You can find more information and safety tips at CPSC.gov.
The team at Zweben Law Group is ready to assist any time someone’s negligence causes injuries that could have been prevented. We hope you won’t ever need our services. But just know that we’re always available to help.