Fireworks Safety in Pennsylvania 2018
Independence Day is a festive time for American families, and many Americans enjoy celebrating our Nation’s independence with fireworks. However, fireworks do present certain hazards. Even seemingly harmless fireworks can still cause severe injuries. Each state has their own specific laws regarding fireworks. In Pennsylvania, fireworks are legal. But before grabbing your lighter, consider the strictures of the state.
New: Fireworks Legal in PA
In October of 2017, Governor Wolf signed a new law allowing Pennsylvanians to purchase and use several types of previously banned fireworks in the state. Previously, fireworks that shot projectiles into the air were illegal to purchase and use in the state. Now, Pennsylvanians may purchase and use bottle rockets, Roman candles, and other flying fireworks. Display-grade fireworks are still restricted to permit-carrying operators, and dangerous fireworks such as quarter-sticks, half-sticks, M-80s and M-100s are still illegal in Pennsylvania.
The new law requires a 12% sales tax on fireworks, part of Wolf’s budget plan that aims to fill the state’s massive deficit. The Wolf administrations reports that the monies collected from fireworks sales under this new law will go into a fund for first responders. While the new state law is in effect this Fourth of July, Pennsylvanians should remember that local municipalities may have their own restrictions for fireworks at the community level. Many first responders in the state anticipate a higher number of emergency calls for firework-related injuries and incidents.
When Firework Injuries Occur
If you or a loved one suffer injuries from a firework device, it’s important to determine your legal options. Depending on how the accident occurred, you may have one or more possible avenues of compensation for your damages. However, it’s vital to remember the legal concept of “assumed risk,” which describes a person acknowledging the dangerous nature of an activity and choosing to participate regardless. You cannot take legal action against a firework manufacturer if you mishandled the device or did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
A firework manufacturer may face liability if a device is defective and the defect causes an injury, but due to the nature of fireworks this may be difficult to prove. It will be essential for a plaintiff to prove that he or she used the device as instructed and intended and followed all the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, the plaintiff will need to prove that the device in question was defective and the defect caused the plaintiff’s damages. Since a defective firework will likely incur some fire damage or explode, this can be very difficult without video evidence.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims From Firework Injuries
If another person caused your firework injury through negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, you can file a personal injury claim against the responsible party to recover your damages. For example, if someone intentionally fires a bottle rocket at your loved one as a prank but damages
his or her eyes, this would constitute negligence since the at-fault party did not heed the safety warnings included with the fireworks. If your child visits a friend’s house and the other child’s parents do not adequately supervise them, you may be able to take legal action against them.
The same would apply in wrongful death cases. Some types of fireworks, particularly projectile-based fireworks, can cause serious and even fatal injuries from impact as well as severe burns. Long-term disability and disfigurement are possible, as are the potential loss of bodily functions, appendages or other serious injuries. If you or a loved one suffer any type of firework injury this summer, consult with a trusted personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.