Written by attorney Timothy R. Miley

Accidental Shootings: Causes and Liability

Accidental shootings can happen in a variety of settings. They occur in residential homes, at places of business, and while hunting. These types of accidents can result in severe or even fatal injuries.

What are common causes for accidental shootings?

Children and adults alike could find themselves suddenly the victim of an accidental shooting. With children, it is most times caused by a failure to keep ammunition and/or weapons out of their reach and securely locked. Whether it is a child who goes to a neighbor or friend’s house, or is within the child’s own home, these types of accidents are preventable.

Another common cause of accidental shootings is an accidental discharge. This can sometimes happen when a gun is dropped or tossed. Most often, accidental discharge is the result of mishandling or negligence. Accidental shootings happen often via accidental discharge on hunting accidents with inexperienced shooters.

For instance, it is extremely careless to assume a gun isn’t loaded. A gun should always be checked before handling. Putting a finger on or near the trigger while cleaning the gun could also result in discharging. Pointing or waving a gun around is yet another version of reckless behavior that could be prevented in hunting accidents.

Whatever the cause, accidental shootings generally stem from a lack of experience, training or not following safety measures. However, there is another potential cause that isn’t related to a person’s behavior.

There could be a defect in the design or manufacturing of the gun. For instance, it may have a missing or broken safety. Or there are flaws with the barrel, pump action, lever, bolt, ammo or chamber.

Who can be liable for accidental shootings?

It is oftentimes the gun owner or the person who shot the gun that is liable for an accidental shooting. If the person is a minor, responsibility could fall back into the parent’s hands. Or, liability could include the child and the parent.

A child and parent being held liable is generally the case when it comes to a child gaining access to a gun. It is the gun owner’s responsibility to make sure the gun is locked away. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the child won’t be held at least partially responsible.

If a hunting accident was caused by an accidental shooting, it would need to be determined if reasonable care was exercised. There is some degree of danger when it comes to this activity, but it doesn’t mean that a person can’t be liable when there is evidence of negligence.

Of course, if the cause of the accidental shooting is a manufacturing defect, then anyone involved in the chain of distribution could be liable. The manufacturer, engineer or retailer may be potential parties named in a claim.

What are common injuries sustained in an accidental shooting?

Tragically, many times an accidental shooting results in a loss of life, especially shots to the head, neck and chest. This could lead to the filing of a wrongful death claim.

Severe injuries may involve the head, neck or spinal cord. This could lead to brain damage or paralysis if the spinal cord is severed.

Gunshot wounds to the arms or legs could result in traumatic amputation. However, virtually any area of the body that is shot could end up causing long-term disability.

The Miley Legal Group may be able to help. For hunting accidents or otherwise, the Clarksburg personal injury attorneys at Miley Legal Group have experience. Contact one of our Clarksburg personal injury attorneys to learn if accidental shootings warrant the filing of claims.

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