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Happy Independence Day! The Roadrunner Law team is excited to celebrate this wonderful weekend with our family and friends. And for many of us, 4th of July means one thing more than any other—FIREWORKS!
Fireworks are a lot of fun when used carefully and safely. Unfortunately, fireworks can also be dangerous when used improperly. Every year, on average, about 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. Most of those injuries are burns, but other common injuries include damage to the eyes and fingers.
HOSTS OWE GUESTS A DUTY OF CARE
When someone is injured by someone else’s carelesness, the situation is governed by the civil law of negligence. Negligence is a person’s failure to exercise “ordinary care.”
When we host backyard BBQ’s, block parties, or Fourth of July get-togethers, we owe a duty of ordinary care to our guests. If we act in a careless way that endangers our guests, we might be held liable for injuries caused by our negligence. This duty of care extends to many situations— making sure we do not have potholes a guest could fall into, making sure children are safe around swimming pools and BBQ grills, making sure the food we serve is kept in a safe way to avoid food poisoning, or safely maintaining the stairs leading our property. Likewise, we owe a duty to ensure that any fireworks we set off on our property are safely and properly handled in such a way that is safe for guests. Your duty as a host also extends to making sure your other guests are safely using fireworks on your property! If you have guests having roman candle fights or shooting bottle rockets at each other, you need to do whatever you can to get them to stop, immediately. If you fail to do so and someone is injured on your watch, you could be held negligent and forced to pay money damages to the injured person.
FIREWORKS LAWS MATTER
In addition to common law negligence, states and municipalities also have the authority to regulate the sale, possession, and discharge of fireworks within their boundaries. For example, Albuquerque City Ordinance § 9-20-2 prohibits the use of any sort of fireworks near the bosque, and also strictly restricts the use of any sort of ariel fireworks, spinners, or “ground audible” fireworks like firecrackers. Party hosts must be certain that their use of fireworks is legal. Failing to do so can carry both criminal and civil consequences.
If a host violates city or state fireworks laws and someone gets hurt from the discharge of the illegal fireworks, that host could face a civil lawsuit (for money damages) where they might be held liable under a legal theory of negligence, and/or the legal doctrine of “negligence per se.” This means that you have violated a law and are therefore liable as a matter of law for the injuries your guest incurred on your property.
IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED, YOU HAVE RIGHTS
If you were injured due to a host’s or another guest’s negligent handling of fireworks, you may have legal rights that you should discuss with a qualified personal injury lawyer. A negligent host must pay you for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. In addition, if your injury was scarring or disfiguring, you might be entitled to compensation for the permanence or severity of your injury. You can also claim any lost wages from time off work you have had to take because of your injuries. Usually, the main source of money for these kinds of injury claims comes from the host’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, though there may be other sources of recovery available to you, depending on the individual facts of your case. You need an experienced personal injury attorney who can analyze your injury and the facts leading up to your accident to help you figure out the next steps to take with your case.
THE ROADRUNNER LAW TEAM CAN HELP
The Roadrunner Law team has 20+ years of experience handling all kinds of personal injury claims all over the state of New Mexico, including claims involving host negligence and homeowner’s and renter’s insurance. If you’ve been injured, call us today for your free consultation.