Whether your Independence Day celebration includes a community gathering or a backyard barbeque with friends and family, evening fireworks are likely to highlight the night. Fourth of July fireworks are a popular way to celebrate national prosperity and patriotism, and symbolize the birth of our nation.
But what happens when the celebration goes awry? Here’s a list of tips to remember as you anticipate your 4th of July celebrations.
- You can only legally set off certain types of fireworks in Ohio.
Ohio permits the sale of 1.4 g fireworks, formerly known as Class C common fireworks, but only “novelties and trick noisemakers” can legally be used in the state. According to the Ohio Revised Code 3743.65, residents may buy 1.4 g fireworks, such as pinwheels, skyrockets, and tubes, from licensed wholesalers and manufacturers; however, the buyer must sign a document stating they’re taking the fireworks out of Ohio within 48 hours. They cannot be ignited, exploded, or set off in the state. The Department of Commerce Fireworks FAQs page says, trick and novelty fireworks, for instance, snakes, glow worms, sparklers, and fun snaps, are exempt from the fireworks law and may be used by residents.
- Trick and novelty items may be used in Ohio but, they can still cause serious injuries.
Every day during July, an average of 180 people end up in the emergency room for firework-related injuries. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that burns comprise 57 percent of those injuries. According to the CPSC Annual Fireworks Report, sparklers were the leading cause of emergency room treatments from June 21 to July 21, 2019. Nationally, 900 individuals were treated for injuries caused by sparklers, and 500 of those cases were for children younger than five.
- While sparklers, on average, cause more injuries for a single product, the majority of total injuries were caused by unknown fireworks.
The CPSC’s Annual Fireworks Report states 4,100 injuries out of 7,300 were caused by unknown fireworks, where the witnesses to an injury could not identify the product used before or after the injury occurred. Another 1,900 emergency room injuries were a result of non-exempt 1.4 g fireworks. The risk of an injury is high, but that is not your only worry. You need to consider the legal consequences of using 1.4 g fireworks in Ohio.
- If a buyer does not transport their 1.4 g fireworks out of Ohio within 48 hours and lights them in the state, they have made two violations.
These violations are (1) failure to transport 1.4 g fireworks out of Ohio and (2) discharging those fireworks in the state. The violations can result in criminal charges and carry other liabilities if their actions harm another person or property. The Ohio Department of Commerce Fireworks FAQ page states, “…most first-time violations are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.”
- Who is liable in the event of a firework-related injury?
Liability for a firework-related injury depends mainly on the circumstances. For example, suppose a person is injured through no fault of their own. In that case, the negligent person or company setting off the fireworks is typically liable, meaning they are responsible and may have to pay any related damages. However, if the injury occurs at a public firework show, the victim may recover damages from the event organizer or the group who hired the fireworks company. Where a firework malfunctions and causes an injury to a person legally igniting the firework, they may be able to pursue a product liability case. In some instances, the injured person may recover damages from the wholesaler or manufacturer.
If you or a loved one has a firework-related injury due to another person’s negligence or a product malfunction, talk to our experienced personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys are here to discuss and evaluate your case at no cost to you. Call us at (740) 454-8585 or send us a message.