More and more of us are using fireworks when celebrating a special event. We associate fireworks with fun and enjoyment and more so now given that Bonfire Night is just around the corner. This is the time of year that most of us will be either using fireworks or attending spectacular displays to the watch them.
However, before you light up that glitzy sparkler or turn to watch the magnificent brocades and floral patterns paint the sky, always remember to play it safe to avoid being injured by fireworks. Whether you are at home with family or friends or part of the crowd at your local display, always remember to put safety first as a preventative measure to avoid being injured by fireworks.
Every year, despite strenuous efforts by local authorities to improve on firework health and safety, many people are still being injured by fireworks and the numbers are on the increase. I have found that increasingly, it is not just children who are injured by fireworks, but adults too. As a lawyer, the type of injuries that I have seen include minor burns, major burns that require skin grafting and urgent medical attention, eye injuries, face, hair and scalp damage, psychological distress, loss of vision and even loss of life.
Being injured by fireworks can have a devastating effect on your life and in some instances the permanent nature of the scarring can have a significant, life altering impact. Many of my clients who have fireworks injuries often complain of psychological injuries as well as the physical injuries I have described above.
Whilst most firework display organisers will follow the health and safety executive’s guidelines and have insurance cover in case of any nasty accidents, others may not be that organised. Under current legislation, there is no mandatory obligation on organisations to have insurance cover that will protect you if you are injured by fireworks although thankfully, many still do.
Many of my clients have been injured by fireworks in the relative safety of their own home. Injuries often occur in back gardens as a result of a misfiring firework or a failure to read the instructions properly or even a lack of proper instruction on the firework.
If you are planning to have your own event at home, maybe in your back garden, I recommend that you be wary of buying fireworks sold in unlicensed outlets or on the internet. Put the safety of your family first. Fireworks may be cheaper online or if you are buying them from abroad but not all countries insist on the strict standards applied in the U.K. so be careful.
Often fireworks may be out of date or do not comply with British or European health and safety standards. Always purchase your fireworks from a specialist fireworks shop and check that the package sold to you is marked with something known as a BS7114 mark or the CE mark. These fireworks are more likely to have been strenuously tested and could minimise the risk of you or your loved ones being injured by fireworks.
Despite following safety guidelines, accidents do still happen. I am happy to give you some guidance about what you can do if you or your friends and family are injured by fireworks.
Firstly, your well-being and safety is paramount.
You should attend a hospital or seek medical attention (at an NHS walk in centre for example) as quickly as possible. Make sure you follow this up with your GP. In particular, if you have been burnt by the firework, it is crucial that you attend to this promptly. If you are able to, take photographs of the injury and if there are any witnesses, note down their details.
If you were injured because someone deliberately threw a firework at you, this could amount to a criminal offence and you should contact the police immediately. You may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
If you are injured by fireworks at an organised event, make sure you have full details of the site or venue, a follow up address and a contact number for any safety officer on site.
Remember that if you attend an organised fireworks display event, the event organiser has a legal duty to make sure of the reasonable safety of their visitors. If health and safety guidelines have not been followed or an unsafe environment is present, you may have a right to claim compensation if you are injured by fireworks.
If you have been injured by fireworks through no fault of your own and you purchased fireworks for use in your private garden or at home, you may have a claim against the company which manufactured the fireworks. I recommend that you always retain the receipt of purchase, the packaging and any other instructions that are provided with the box.
I always recommend that you seek legal advice about your entitlement to make a claim. At Saracens Solicitors, our legal team has many years of experience in helping those who have been injured by fireworks. I hope you all have a mischief free and enjoyable time on November 5th but in the event that you or your loved ones are injured by fireworks (or have been injured in the past three years); I will happily advise you on what steps to take next.
Remember remember the 5th of November… Gunpowder treason and plot
Remember remember to keep yourself safe… Kids, adults, the lot
Personal Injury Solicitor
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