Setting off fireworks can be fun and exciting, but it can also be dangerous, and a new Pennsylvania law that went into effect October 30, 2017, makes it even more so. The law broadened the legal use of fireworks and slapped a new 12 percent tax on those purchases. The tax will help plug the budget deficit and provide grants to emergency medical services and volunteer fire departments. However, expanding fireworks use also increases the chance of causing injuries and damage.
Under the new law, Pennsylvania residents, previously restricted to using items like sparklers, now are allowed to purchase consumer-grade fireworks like Roman candles and bottle rockets that fly into the air. Previously, these items were available only to out-of-state shoppers.
While residents can now enjoy the freedom to create beautiful fireworks displays, this comes at a price. Once lit, these items are difficult to control and can cause injuries and fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fireworks report, in 2013 alone U.S. emergency rooms treated 11,400 people for fireworks-related injuries. An estimated 55% involved injury to arms, hands and legs, while 38% were to the head.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or had property damaged due to someone else’s negligence using fireworks, you may be entitled to compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered. The experienced and compassionate Pennsylvania fireworks injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann may be able to achieve for you the settlement you deserve. Of course, each case is fact specific and there is no guarantee.
Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. Our seasoned Pennsylvania attorneys have helped hundreds of people file successful personal injury lawsuits. With decades of experience and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle even the most difficult cases and have successfully represented clients in personal injury cases of all kinds.
We offer a free consultation, so call or contact us online today.
What are the Rules?
Although the new law is statewide, every municipality can still set its own local fireworks laws and ordinances. Even where fireworks are legal, everyone using them has to exercise caution and follow rules.
According to the Pennsylvania State Police, state rules are as follows:
- Buyers must be over 18.
- Fireworks cannot be discharged from or toward a building or vehicle or within 150 feet of an occupied building.
- Users must have permission from the owner of property where fireworks are to be discharged.
- Fireworks cannot be used when under the influence of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances.
Some fireworks remain illegal or are limited to those operators with a permit. Devices such as M-80s, M-100s, cherry bombs or quarter- and half-sticks, remain illegal to individuals under federal law as they contain one to 10 grams of explosive flash powder and are used as dynamite in mining or by the military.
Using Fireworks Safely
Anyone deciding to use fireworks has a responsibility to do so safely. According to Wikihow, users should:
1) Take precautions
- Protect eyes and ears with safety glasses and earplugs.
- Dress in snugly fitting long sleeves and pants to protect from burns.
- Use only legal fireworks with a Common Class C rating, bought from licensed public fireworks stands.
- Store fireworks out of reach, away from children and from sun, extreme heat, or electronics.
- Never carry fireworks in pockets or enclosed in fabric or plastic wrap.
- Have water on hand in case of
- Stay sober and alert.
2) Choose a safe area
Only use fireworks outdoors, in a flat and wide-open area with no overhead obstructions, and far from residences and flammable liquids. Watch for dry vegetation.
3) Practice safety
- Follow instructions on the package.
- Use long lighting devices.
- Set up the fireworks correctly on flat surfaces or in ground.
- Protect your head; do not lean over aerial fireworks or look into a mortar tube.
- Be patient; wait at least 30 minutes before approaching fireworks that do not go off; disarm them in a bucket of water.
- Light one device at a time and stand back 20 feet after lighting.
- Keep pets and spectators away and upwind.
Injured by Fireworks? Contact Us for Help
Using fireworks carelessly and in uncontrolled settings is a recipe for disaster. Negligence and failure to follow safe procedures is behind most injuries, but they may also occur because of a fireworks defect. Manufacturers of defective products may be liable for injuries, as can local or regional distributors or importers.
The issue of comparative negligence often comes up in these cases. The user of the fireworks has an obligation to be careful, and in Pennsylvania if a person is more than 50 percent responsible, they are not entitled to any recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered property damage, or someone has died due to negligence in fireworks use or manufacturing defects, you need the help of an experienced attorney in order to ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to. With our competent staff, the experienced and compassionate fireworks injury attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann can help.
Cliff Rieders is a Nationally Board-Certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center. Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute, which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States. He is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award. Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years. Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir. Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania and wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.
Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual situation, so do not delay. Call our office or contact us online today.