When Fourth of July fireworks don’t explode where and when they are supposed to, they can cause serious injuries, property damage, and even death. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2015 was one of the most dangerous years on record in terms of injuries and fatalities. That year, 11,900 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries and 11 people died. Unsurprisingly, most of these injuries, roughly 67%, took place in the 30 days before and after the Fouth of July celebrations.
When Rockets Red Glare Burn Skin Bare
Burns and scalding are the most common injuries caused by fireworks. Even “safe” fireworks such as sparklers can burn at more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. These often occur when propellants and explosives burn through the firework’s casing. Teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19-years old are at greatest risk. This demographic is followed by young children between the ages of 5 to 9-years old.
In 2015, the most commonly injured body parts included:
- Hands, Fingers (39%)
- Head, Face, Ears (25%)
- Eyes (16%)
- Legs (15%)
- Arms (4%)
The consequences of fireworks burns can be life changing. Severe burns can cause severe nerve damage and permanent scarring of the skin. 3rd and 4th-degree burns can even cause damage to tendons, muscles, and ligaments and can lead to limb amputation or life-threatening infections of the blood.
Illinois Law and Fireworks
Illinois has very strict laws regarding the possession and use of fireworks. Currently, individuals may only have sparklers, “smoke bombs,” punks, and novelty items that don’t explode or leave the ground. Other items such as bottle rockets, roman candles, fountains, explosive missiles, and mortar shells require permits for use. However, that does not mean that individuals do not illegally sneak these illicit items into Illinois. As such, individuals who bring these items into the state, use them and subsequently cause injuries or property damage can face both criminal penalties and civil liability for their illegal and negligent actions.
Liability for Fireworks-Related Injuries
A Chicago personal injury attorney can help establish liability for a fireworks-related injury. Depending on the circumstances, responsible parties may include the fireworks manufacturer, a municipal agency responsible for public fireworks displays, or individuals whose use (either legal or illegal) of fireworks causes injury, death, or property damage. In fact, fireworks-related injuries are most often caused by negligent usage by private individuals whose actions put people nearby at risk of suffering serious injuries.