Firecrackers, Champagne Corks, Celebratory Gunfire among Top New Year’s Eve Personal Injury Risks December 27, 2013 A popped champagne cork can travel up to 50 miles per hour and cause serious injury to the eyes, personal injury attorneys warn. Popping sounds abound on New Year’s Eve – fireworks, champagne corks and, occasionally, gunfire. While these are meant to be celebratory, they also can be dangerous, or even fatal, say personal injury attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. Fireworks are an inevitable part of New Year’s Eve celebrations, whether you’re gathered watching a major public fireworks display or lighting up your own consumer-grade fireworks in your home’s driveway or back yard. Unfortunately, it’s these personal-use devices that account for the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries. Last year, some 8,700 Americans were treated in US hospital emergency rooms for fireworks injuries, and six men were killed by professional-grade, homemade or banned firework devices, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Popping that celebratory bottle of champagne also can prove dangerous. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a popped champagne cork can travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. At such speeds, a cork that hits the eye can cause serious damage, and even blindness. Common resulting injuries include rupturing of the eye wall, acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular bleeding, dislocation of the lens, and damage to the eye’s bone structure. Celebratory gunfire currently is a misdemeanor in Florida, but many are pushing for legislation to toughen legal consequences – and with good reason. Shots fired randomly into the sky don’t simply disappear. Every single one lands somewhere, and at the turn of the New Year, that somewhere often is an area crowded with people celebrating. Studies show that the risk of death from a bullet coming from overhead is far higher than other gunshots because they cause head injuries 80 percent of the time. Victims who don’t die often suffer lifelong consequences. On New Year’s Day 2012, 13-year-old Tampa Bay-area boy Diego Duran was struck by a stray bullet and still suffers memory problems a full two years later. His parents have since formed a nonprofit organization, Bullet Free Sky, to raise awareness of the dangers. If you or your dependents are injured while ringing in the New Year, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact an experienced personal injury attorney with Jacksonville-based Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111. From all of us here at Harrell and Harrell, have a safe and successful 2014.