The primary type of fireworks that are used by the average person are consumer fireworks. These are small-scale fireworks that the average consumer would used on the 4th of July, such as firecrackers and sparklers that you would use in your own yard.
The nature of these types of fireworks are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fireworks regulations further vary by state and, sometimes, by county. The other type of fireworks, display fireworks, are larger fireworks used by professionals in fireworks displays. Only professionals can possess or use display fireworks with permits under federal law.
What are the State Laws on Fireworks?
Most states allow some consumer fireworks, though some only allow novelty products such as sparklers. Some states restrict consumer firework use to those that have been classified "safe and sane" by the fire marshal.
Two states, Delaware and Massachusetts, ban fireworks completely. Illinois allows only sparklers and similar novelty products. Hawaii and Nevada allow counties to create their own regulations. Certain states, like New York, further allow local regulation.
The laws among the states vary widely as to whether fireworks are permitted at all, and if so, what type. They also vary as to whether they are regulated only by state law, or allow further local regulation at the county or city level. A listing of the regulations is maintained by the American Pyrotechnics Association.
What if I am Injured Due to Fireworks?
If someone is injured by fireworks set off by another person, there may be a claim for negligence. Fireworks can be dangerous and anyone using them must adhere to a standard of care of a reasonable person. The failure to do so could make the person liable for any injuries that result. If you are injured by fireworks that are illegal in your state, this could create automatic liability.
Someone injured by their own fireworks or someone else's may also have a products liability claim if the injury was caused by a defect in the product. This is a somewhat difficult claim, however, because fireworks are dangerous products by nature. The injury must be the result of an unexpected danger or the result of a lack of proper warning about the products danger.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I was Injured by Fireworks?
If you have been injured by fireworks and believe it was due to circumstances out of your control, then you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your rights and options under the law. However, it's important to keep in mind that user error and negligence is an important factor in claims relating to fireworks. So if you mishandled or did not follow the safety instructions for the fireworks, then it is more likely that your claim can be reduced or dismissed.