As the 4th of July approaches, many Ohioans are unaware that House Bill 172, which will take effect on July 1, pertains to consumers’ use of fireworks. Even though many types of fireworks were illegal, many Ohioans ignored the law. During the summer, it was common to see the bright colors in the evening sky or hear the familiar boom as residents ignored the laws and set off fireworks during the summer evenings.
Fireworks are often misused, and without precautions, people can be injured. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2020 from June 21 to July 21, there were 15,600 people hospitalized with injuries. When fireworks are not handled correctly, it can lead to death. Of the 18 deaths reported in 2020 caused by fireworks, 12 were related to misuse, and 1 resulted from an electronic malfunction.
Changes to the Law
Before July 1, 2022, Ohio was one of only 2 states where consumer fireworks were illegal, but all that will change when house bill 172 takes effect. House bill 172 allows Ohioans to use fireworks on specified days throughout the year without penalty. Fireworks are allowed to be used by consumers on these dates unless permitted by local laws,
- July 3, 4, and 5, and the weekends immediately before and after (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- Labor Day weekend (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- Diwali (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- New Year’s Eve (4 p.m.-11:59 p.m.)
- New Year’s Day (12 a.m.-1 a.m.; 4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- Chinese New Year (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- Cinco de Mayo (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- Memorial Day weekend (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
- Juneteenth (4 p.m.-11 p.m.)
Although Ohio has made it legal for residents to use fireworks on specified days, the new law allows local governments to restrict the use of consumer fireworks on those days. Communities can opt out and make consumer use of fireworks illegal on any of those days. If a city decides to ban fireworks on the above-listed days, residents could face fines if they use fireworks when their city has restricted them.
House Bill 172 also made changes for firework retailers. Previously retailers were not allowed to have a showroom that exceeded 5000 square feet (about the area of a basketball court). Ohio was one of the only states to have a law prohibiting showroom size. In Ohio, a fireworks showroom could not exceed 5000 square feet, but house bill 172 permits showrooms to expand to 7500 square feet (about twice the area of a tennis court).
Northwest Ohio Communities Prohibiting the Use of Fireworks
- Toledo is opting out of the new bill so, consumer-grade fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, and fountains will continue to be illegal for residents to ignite, discharge or explode within the City of Toledo. Fire Chief Allison Armstrong told council members Tuesday, June 21, that fireworks have caused 46 fires since 2017 that resulted in significant property damage.
Ohioans should check with their local governments to verify if they have passed additional restrictions or are allowing the use of fireworks per the new state law to avoid penalties or fines.
House Bill 172 has listed additional provisions that Ohioans must follow to ensure they are discharging fireworks correctly and following state law. These guidelines include
- No one under 18 can handle or discharge fireworks.
- Anyone under 18 cannot be within 150 feet of the discharge point of aerial fireworks.
- If you are in possession of or under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, you cannot use fireworks. Anyone who violates this law is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Aerial devices cannot be discharged within 150 feet of spectators (including aerial shells, roman candles, cakes, and bottle rockets).
- Non-aerial devices cannot be released within 50 feet of spectators (including fountains, firecrackers, and ground effect devices).
Injured Due to Negligent use of Fireworks
Although fireworks are allowed for consumer use on specific days in Ohio, that does not excuse negligence when using fireworks. People are often injured while observing fireworks displays at friends’ or neighbors’ homes, and those injuries can be severe. If fireworks have injured you, you may be wondering if you have a legal right to compensation for your injuries.
In Ohio, you can file a lawsuit for an injury caused by fireworks, but you must prove that the person handling the fireworks was negligent or that the firework product improperly malfunctioned. An example of injury due to negligence may include you going out for a walk on the 4th of July while your neighbor is setting off fireworks in their backyard. As you walk down the sidewalk, a firework hits you, and you are burned or injured severely. If you sustained your injury due to a firework and its improper use, you might be able to receive compensation for your injuries and missed work.
Contact an Attorney
Lawsuits are not only filed against individuals but also the companies that manufacture the fireworks, and organizations that put on fireworks shows have been included in suits if their actions were negligent and caused injury or death to bystanders. An experienced attorney can assess liability based on the facts of your case.
If you have been injured in a firework accident, contact our personal injury lawyers at Charles Boyk. We are dedicated to getting our clients the injury compensation they deserve. Contact us for a free consultation of your case today.