The Florida Legislature passed several far-reaching laws, including ones regulating commercial delivery by drones, ride-sharing, and a law lowering registration fees for boats that have emergency location services.
But there is also a bill– HB 6037– that is currently working its way through the Florida House. This bill would have a big effect on many Floridians who celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday with professional grade fireworks by removing a loophole in Florida law. The loophole? Basically, it’s legal to buy fireworks in Florida, as long as the resident signs a form stating that the fireworks will be used to frighten birds at fish hatcheries and on agricultural land.
Your Florida neighbor who seeks the annual prize for most flamboyant fireworks display from their backyard or your street? They would be out of luck, unless they are a big fan of sparklers or other fireworks that do not explode, do not go airborne, and basically, do not provide the oomph that fireworks fanatics love to light.
Fireworks legal to use for festivities in Florida are sparklers, fireworks that remain on the ground and burn in color, and small smoke-emitting fireworks. Here’s a complete list.
The passing of the bill is not assured, even though current Florida law regarding fireworks is one of the least respected and least enforced laws on our books. And the fireworks companies make large profits in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, too.
Florida law enforcement agencies say they don’t have the time or resources to enforce the fireworks being set off. What’s more, under current law an officer must actually see the lighting of the firework before the person can be arrested—not just the aftereffect.
The new law would prevent much of the fireworks lighting by limiting the means to purchase fireworks in the first place.
Reasons? Safety, and lots of accidents:
- Last year, Alachua County resident (and father) Darren Lotow died after a mortar-style firework he set off malfunctioned.
- Fireworks were accused of starting a blaze at one Orlando home on Tuesday, July 4th 2017. (Video below)
One neighbor in the Orlando neighborhood, John A. Smith said of the regulated fireworks, “I don’t think they should allow it in these neighborhoods, cause it can get out of control like it did last night. It was like a war zone.”
How Could I Be Liable for Fireworks Injuries?
Florida Statute 791, the existing statute, is clear. Those who light fireworks with disregard to this bill—even before the potential passing of new legislation—could be facing a legal nightmare in case of injury or property damage.
Consumers can be liable for the damage caused by their fireworks, especially if handled improperly:
Failure to follow warnings on packaging;
Lighting of simultaneous fireworks;
Being under the influence while lighting fireworks;
Using homemade or any illegal fireworks.
Celebrating on a holiday is supposed to be fun. But an injury can turn the festivities into something else and create a problem that will have to be dealt with in court.
Have you or a loved one been injured by fireworks in Florida?
If you or a loved one has been injured by fireworks in Florida, the attorneys at Thomas and Pearl want to speak to you.
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