- The negligence of the injured person. The extent to which the individual who was injured contributed to the injury will be a key question in any fireworks-related case. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant’s liability can be reduced by a percentage of fault that the fact-finder in the case (the jury or the judge) determines should be attributed to the plaintiff. For example, in a lawsuit against a store that sold defective fireworks, if the plaintiff knew about the defect, acknowledged its hazards, and used the fireworks anyway, that may reduce the defendant’s liability.
- The source of the injury. Fireworks injuries can arise in a number of ways. The first variety that many will think of is the case of someone hand-holding an explosive firework despite the obvious danger of doing so. But other types of injury can arise due to defects in the manufacture of a product, such as a fuse that is too short or burns too fast, or inclusion of materials that burn at an especially unsafe temperature.
- Did the defendant assume responsibility? In cases where a child is injured by a firework an adult may have assumed responsibility for keeping the child safe. An adult’s negligent supervision might involve giving a small child an unsafe product, encouraging unsafe behavior, and so on.
- The chain of manufacture and distribution of a defective product. In cases where a person is injured by a product that might have been inherently unsafe, a products liability case may be warranted. In a products liability case the plaintiff may have a claim against anyone involved in the product’s manufacture or sale. Many fireworks are imported from overseas, making the original manufacturer difficult to pursue in litigation. But the store that sold the defective product can also be liable.
Every year around the Fourth of July we hear stories about people being injured by fireworks. Some injuries result from foolish stunts, others from poor judgment, often involving alcohol. A report issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that children under the age of 15 accounted for nearly a third of fireworks-related injuries that were treated in emergency rooms in 2016. Young people in general (those 24 or younger) seem to be the most at-risk group for injury. The range of potential injury from fireworks extends from minor burns to loss of fingers, damaged eyes and ears, and in rare cases, death. Serious injuries that involve significant medical costs and other consequences, like impacts on a person’s ability to work, may give rise to a personal injury lawsuit. There are several components that may be relevant to a fireworks-related injury: