If a firework injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Firework-related injuries typically include burns, hearing loss from loud explosions, or injuries from malfunctioning fireworks during public or private displays.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a bonfire and firework accident, we can help. Whether your injuries were caused by a slip or trip, fall or other incident, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim for an accident in a public place with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
With 1,000s of injuries every year on Bonfire Night, you are not alone
The British Pyrotechnists Association notes that 14 million UK residents attend professional firework displays, on or around 5 November. These events have also gained popularity on occasions like New Year's Eve.
Despite strict regulations to manage the dangers of fireworks, burns and other injuries are still relatively common.
Acccording to NHS data, 1,000s of firework-related injuries are estimated to occur each bonfire night (england.nhs.uk).
If you're considering a firework accident claim, a personal injury solicitor can guide you through the claims process. They will support you until you receive the compensation you need to help you move forward after an injury.
Do I qualify for firework accident compensation?
If you've been injured or made ill in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, then you will be entitled to claim compensation for firework accident.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.
Can I make a claim even if I'm partly liable?
Pinpointing liability for an accident will depend on the context, with different legal principles applying to different circumstances.
In our 2023 Public Liability Injury Claimant Survey, 17.45% of respondents felt they were at least partly responsible for their accident or injuries.
The legal term for cases where an injured person was (to some extent) responsible for their injuries is 'contributory negligence'. If there is fault on both sides of a claim, it is possible to pay reduced compensation on a split liability agreement.
How long after a firework accident do I have to claim compensation?
For most injury claims, you have up to 3 years from the date of your injury to start the claims process.
The 3 year limitation period does not apply to minors (under 18s). A parent, guardian or litigation friend can start a claim on a child's behalf up to their 18th birthday and the child has until their 21st birthday to claim for themselves.
How much compensation can I claim for a firework injury?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Firework accident injury
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages is compensation awarded to cover any financial losses and expenses you incur as a result of your injury or negligent medical treatment. These damages aim to put you back in the financial position you would have been in, had your injury not occurred.
Special damages will also cover your medical treatment expenses, that might include emergency care, burn care, eye protection and pain medication.
What is the law regarding fireworks and bonfires?
A range of statutory controls are in place to protect people from fireworks, as well as the other dangers associated with Bonfire Night. These include The Firework (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004.
One of the main legal requirements is that adult' fireworks (categories 2 and 3) can only be purchased and used by persons 18 and over (category 4 only by professionals). During the bonfire period, fireworks can only be brought from registered sellers from 15 October to 10 November. In addition, Bonfire Night fireworks must not be set off between 12pm and 7am.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has also published guidelines on holding private and public bonfire events. These offer advice on how to manage health and safety issues through organisation and planning. Key recommendations include:
- Ensuring the display site is suitable, and includes separate areas with safe distances for spectators, fireworks and the bonfire display
- Consideration of prevailing weather conditions, such as whether there will be strong winds and identification of overhead obstructions, such as power lines
- Having adequate crowd control, emergency and first aid procedures in place
- Not lighting the bonfire until after the fireworks display in case of stray sparks
- Checking to make sure no-one is inside before lighting a bonfire
The Fireworks Code
In addition, the Fireworks Code offers further advice on the safe use of fireworks. This includes:
- Only buying fireworks that comply with British Standard 7114 or its European equivalent
- Keeping fireworks stored in a closed box
- Following the instructions on each firework
- Lighting fireworks at arm's length using a taper
- Standing well back
- Never going near a firework that has been lit
- Never throwing fireworks or putting them in your pocket
- Always supervising children around fireworks
- Lighting sparklers one at a time and wearing gloves
- Not giving sparklers to children under five years old
Why are firework accidents so common?
Firework rockets can reach speeds of 150 mph, sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Celsius and fires lit on Bonfire Night are often large and tended by untrained and inexperienced members of the public. Given these dangers, the high frequency of firework and bonfire accidents is not surprising.
Burns are the most common types of injury, with the hand injuries the most common, followed by injuries to the eyes and face. These injuries can be superficial or they can involve nerve and muscle damage and permanent scarring.
The majority of injuries caused by fireworks are the result of misuse, including:
- Handing a sparkler to a child without gloves or eye protection
- Incorrect setup and discharge of a firework
- Failing to maintain a safe distance between discharging fireworks and the public
Even when fireworks are used properly, they remain dangerous explosives. The likelihood of an sustaining a injury can significantly increase if the product includes inadequate or misleading instructions, or is faulty.
A defective product injury claim could be made against a retailer or manufacturer under certain circumstances. A specialist solicitor will be able to confirm whether such a claim is likely to succeed depending on the facts of your case.
Are firework display organisers liable?
If an individual is injured by a firework or bonfire display, the organiser of the event is usually liable. This is because the organiser has a legal duty to ensure the safety of spectators and any staff. If the organiser failed to follow any of the statutory requirements or safety guidelines, their actions or inaction would likely amount to negligence, making a claim more likely to succeed.
An organiser of a public display should have insurance in place through which a claim can be pursued. Pursuing a claim against an amateur organiser of a private event may be more difficult. Your solicitor will be able to explain your options in such a case.
If a firework is illegally set off in the street or thrown at a person, the incident should be reported to the police. In these instances, the injured person might be entitled to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
How did your injury happen?
The approach your solicitor will follow for a firework accident claim will vary based on the accident's location and cause. Your solicitor will determine whether the organisers of the display, the firework manufacturers or another party are liable for your injuries. Click the icons below to learn more:
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.