Finally, it's the Fourth! The day when it's perfectly acceptable to make loud noises after dark, blow things up, and come close to burning things down.
Of course, just because it's acceptable doesn't mean that these super-fun activities can't lead to some super-lame liability. Hurting someone while breaking a public safety law is one of the easiest ways to pick up little negligence lawsuit.
Let's take a look at the Philadelphia fireworks laws to see what we can get away with this Fourth.
Unfortunately, you can’t get away with much without picking up some potential liability. In Pennsylvania, you can’t use any fireworks that shoot off or explode. That means no bottle rockets or M-80s. But you can use any kind of sparkler or spark shower-type firework.
The only way to use the big stuff is if you get a permit from your local municipality. Sadly, you need to apply for that 15 days before your use of the fireworks and it is unlikely that a backyard display is going to be approved by the city.
So what about that liability?
When you break a public safety law, you can be held liable for negligence more easily because the victim does not need to show that you owed a duty of care to them specifically. Instead, all the needs to be proven is that there was harm, that you caused it through your use of the fireworks, and that the law broken was meant to protect the person harmed.
It is clear that fireworks can cause harm, things like burns or hearing loss, or if you’re really
good bad, loss of fingers or other assorted limbs.
It is also clear from the statute that the reason behind it is to protect public safety and encourage personal and fire safety. The statute is so broad that it can be interpreted to protect any member of the public, instead of a special class of people.
What all this means is that if you use fireworks and someone gets injured, you can be sued for personal injury. So if you plan to scoff the Philadelphia fireworks laws, be prepared to be more than just cited for it.
- Looking for a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer? (FindLaw)
- Fireworks Safety Tips: Don’t Blow Off Your Hand - 10 Ways to Stay Safe With Fireworks (FindLaw’s KnowledgeBase)
- July 4th, Fireworks Injuries and Safety Tips (FindLaw’s Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog)