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Were you or a loved one harmed by faulty fireworks this year?

We all know that consumer fireworks are somewhat dangerous, right? Most people try to be careful when using them -- keeping them away from children, setting them off from a stable platform, and avoiding combustible materials. Still, people do get hurt.

It's a bigger problem than you might think. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least eight people died last year from mishaps with fireworks, and another 12,900 were injured seriously enough to go to the emergency room. In fact, in the month surrounding the Fourth of July, an average of 280 people are sent to the ER each day with fireworks-related injuries.

Although about 82 percent of those injured are treated in the ER and released, another 14 percent had to be admitted to hospitals.

The most common injuries are burns. Statistically, the most dangerous firework is the sparkler -- which can burn as hot as a blowtorch.

Far too often, fireworks injure people despite being used as instructed. Sometimes, a malfunction occurs. Sometimes people misuse fireworks. In either case, an injured person could have legal recourse.

Under the law of product liability, anyone in the supply chain can be held financially responsible for damages caused by defective products. The defect might be poor design, faulty manufacturing, damage from shipping, or even a lack of appropriate warning labels. Negligence need not be proven.

Even when the product is misused, it may be possible to bring a product liability lawsuit. This is because manufacturers, distributers and retailers are legally responsible for ensuring the product is reasonably safe when used as instructed or when misused in a foreseeable way.

It's true that consumers assume some risk when they decide to set off fireworks. They generally do not assume the risk that the product is defective.

When between 11,000 and 13,000 people are taken to emergency rooms each year for fireworks-related injuries, it may be time to hold the suppliers of dangerous fireworks accountable for the harm they cause.

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