The Fourth of July is here. It is "Merica's" birthday and a day of celebration. Many celebrations in Oregon involve alcohol, and usually end with a small fireworks display. Fireworks are legal here in Oregon, but that does not mean they are without their dangers.
It has long been known that fireworks can injure, maim, or kill people. While working as a deputy district attorney our office prosecuted a local law enforcement officer for lighting off fireworks that injured a child. The child was maimed for the rest of her life, and the law enforcement officer lost his job and his life will never be the same. This is just one tragic example of many where people are injured by fireworks.
Many things can cause these injuries and property damage. A lack of common sense, intoxication, a defective product, or a combination of these factors can lead to these injuries. Most people jump to conclusions that the lack of common sense is responsible for causing the incident. However, that may not always be the case.
This leaves the question of what to do if you, or someone you know, get(s) injured by fireworks? People usually start to ask this question when they are trying to figure out who is going to pay for the tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills? These tips may help you investigate the incident.
1) If the injury is severe, call 911. The injured person must get immediate medical assistance. Burns are nasty injuries that can become infected, and the injured person may not feel immediate pain. Especially if there is alcohol involved. Also, getting emergency responders involved may assist you in investigating how this occurred.
2) Take photos of the firework or firecracker. It is understandable that the injured person won't be doing this, but this is key information. Try and get clear photos of the "fine print" or any other label that may have survived the blast. If you can find the packaging for the firework get photos of it as well.
3) Take photos of the scene and surrounding area where the incident occurred. This may assist people in figuring out how the person was injured by a firework.
4) Get witness information. Ensure you have a list of who saw the firework injure the individual. Make sure you gather their contact information so you can find them in the future if needed.
5) Gather photos and video from earlier in the evening. With the prevalence of cell phones most people are filming or photographing anything remotely interesting these days. There is likely a person that has a photo or a video of the injured person or earlier fireworks displays. This may be important information to obtain. For instance, if an insurance company denies compensation to the injured party by claiming the injured person was drunk, a video showing the person sober would be nice evidence to have to rebut that. Also, a video of other fireworks being lit off that didn't have an issue might be useful in showing that a particular firework was defective.
6) Gather the remnants of the firework that injured the person. This may or may not be possible, but the paper scraps and plastic pieces may be valuable evidence to help locate the firework manufacturer etc.
7) If the injury occurs on private property, try and obtain the property owner's insurance information. This insurance information may be beneficial in helping you get your medical bills paid.
This list is not exhaustive. There are other things that you might do to assist you in preserving evidence to determine who is at fault for the injury. However, this list should get you thinking about how to preserve evidence in the case you need to hold another party responsible for the injury. Read my blog article if you want to figure out who may be responsible for the injury.
If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658. Please call Ross Law today for your free personal injury consultation. Also, please remember to take this advice with a grain of salt, as every situation is different.