Consumer fireworks, whether legal, illegal or homemade, can prove dangerous if mishandled, say personal injury lawyers in Jacksonville. Fourth of July celebrations are meant to be fun, family-oriented affairs. But when fireworks light up the night sky, trouble can follow. In 2011, upwards of 9,600 people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries involving fireworks, statistics show. Fortunately, such incidents are highly preventable, say personal injury attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. The stories are harrowing. Consider these recent incidents:
- A 19-year-old man held an aerial shell in his hand and lit it. The firework went off before he thought it would, causing him to lose his right pinky finger down to the first knuckle and the tips of the rest of his fingers.
- A 41-year-old male was decapitated when he ignited what is being reported as an illegal or homemade firework. The device exploded prematurely.
- A 47-year-old male and his brother-in-law lit a professional-grade firework. When the device did not ignite as expected, the victim looked into the tube, and the device detonated, causing fatal trauma to the victim’s head and face.
Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the federal government prohibits the sale of several dangerous fireworks types to consumers. These include large re-loadable mortar shells, aerial bombs, cherry bombs, M-80 salutes and larger fireworks containing more than two grains of power. The government also bans the sale of mail-order kits designed to help consumers build these types of fireworks. Various states have their own laws concerning fireworks. For instance, Florida also bans the sale and use of Roman Candles. These restrictions come with good reason. Children and teenagers account for more than 30 percent of fireworks-related injuries, more than half of which involve severe burns and affect the head (including face, eyes and ears), hands, fingers and legs. Upwards of 400 Americans lose sight in one or both eyes to fireworks accidents each year, and mishaps cause an average 20,000 fires nationwide annually. Still, 40 percent of fireworks-related injuries are caused by illegal fireworks. Some legal fireworks also are dangerous when used improperly. The ever-popular sparkler can burn at 2,000 F as hot as a blowtorch and high enough to melt some metals. They cause 17% of all fireworks-related injuries, and half of the victims are children younger than five years old. If you or your dependents are injured by an illegal, improperly handled or defective firework, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell serves clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida and South Georgia. Call 800-251-1111 to schedule a consultation.