Fireworks displays dazzle spectators and provide hours of backyard entertainment every Fourth of July. However, the same explosive power that makes fireworks so dazzling can cause serious or even fatal injuries.
It’s true — many fireworks injuries are caused by consumer misuse. At the same time, the likelihood of a firework injury can be greatly increased by a lack of adequate warnings or manufacturing or design defects.
So, if you sustained a firework injury this Fourth of July there’s a good chance it may have been due to negligence on the part of another party. You may be entitled to hold the manufacturer responsible for their negligence through a product liability suit.
To this end, we’ve put together a guide covering common firework injuries, how to tell if your injury was caused by a defective firework, and how product liability works in Florida.
Fireworks Injuries in Florida
Every year, fireworks kill an average of four Americans, and severely injure thousands more. Sadly, some of these injuries are caused not by any fault of the user, but by defective products.
Common fireworks injuries include:
- Hearing loss
- Eye injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Could Your Florida Injury Have Been Caused by a Defective Firework?
The majority of fireworks injuries occur due to misuse. However, if the manufacturer fails to provide appropriate instructions for use or sells a defective product, chances of injury significantly increase.
Common defects include:
- Early detonation that causes fireworks to go off before you’ve had the chance to retreat to a safe distance, or even go off in your hand
- Fireworks that are overcharged, resulting in burn injuries or hearing loss
- Fireworks that discharge in the wrong direction, resulting in burn injuries to users or spectators
If you followed all of the manufacturer-provided instructions and did not act negligently, it’s possible that you were injured by a defective firework. In this case, it’s important to know your rights and seek out damages, as we describe below.
How Florida’s Product Liability Laws Relate to Fireworks Injuries
In Florida, you have four years from the date of your injury to file a product liability or defective product claim. If the injury resulted in a wrongful death, this statute is shortened to two years.
Be aware, waiting several years to seek damages may call into question the severity of your injuries. It’s also much more difficult to investigate the defective product. We recommend taking action swiftly.
There are essentially three types of product liability suits:
Defects in design can result in an unreasonable risk of injury to an intended user. In Florida, this is determined by the “consumer expectation test.”
This test contends that a product is unreasonably dangerous if it does not perform as safely as would be reasonably expected when used as intended. Due to the inherent dangers of fireworks, this can be difficult to argue.
Even if a product is safely designed, if the end product was not in accordance with the design, this could still result in an unsafe product.
Attorneys often name both designer and manufacturer in a defective product suit because it is not always clear which is truly responsible for the injury. We’ve seen designers point to manufacturers and vice-versa.
Failure to Warn
Also referred to as a “marketing defect” suit, failure to warn suits focus on supply chain management. When a product was properly designed and manufactured but was not accompanied by the correct instructions or warnings, this could make the product unreasonably dangerous to its intended users.
It is very important to keep all paperwork and instructions for the fireworks you use in case they are helpful in proving a failure to warn claim.
Ultimately, if you were injured by a defective firework, you have a right to compensation to help your family recover from this tragic occurrence. However, it’s important to act quickly to ensure a successful investigation and convey the seriousness of your injuries.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.