Who is Held Liable for an Accidental Shooting?

Personal Injury Lawyer

Gun ownership is a Constitutional right protected by the Second Amendment. Because of this, being a gun owner comes with a high level of responsibility for the storage and use of any guns in their possession. However, sometimes misuse or malfunction of the firearm could result in an accidental shooting.

According to the Associated Press, gun accidents were the cause of death for a child every other day during the first six months of 2016. These accidents typically fall into two categories—product defect and user error. If you or a loved one were injured in an accidental shooting, you could be able to file a personal injury claim and receive compensatory damages for your injuries, pain and suffering.

Product Defect or User Error?

When filing your personal injury claim, you must determine who should be held liable for the accidental shooting. If you forgot to lock your gun cabinet, allowing your three-year-old to gain access and accidentally fire your hunting rifle, you would be held liable for user error and negligence. However, if the same hunting rifle malfunctions during use, then the product manufacturer would be held liable for your injuries.

Negligent Shootings 

There are several ways an accidental shooting could occur through negligence.

  • A parent forgets to keep on the safety before handing a gun to their child. 
  • A loaded firearm is unsecured in the house. 
  • A hunting rifle is fired at a duck, but misses and hits another member of the hunting party.
  • A gun is fired ceremoniously and hits an innocent bystander. 

In these situations, the court would have to determine the at-fault party. Like any personal injury case, there are a variety of factors at play when it comes to proving fault for accidental shootings. For example, should the parent be held fully liable for an unlocked cabinet? Or would some liability fall on the child or teenager? Each claim is weighed on a case-by-case basis as the court takes various considerations into account.

Malfunction Shootings

If the owner of the firearm is injured while practicing safe and responsible gun ownership practices, the manufacturer of the weapon could be held liable. In order to prove their liability, the plaintiff must show there was inadequate warnings for potential risks, firearm build defects or design defects.

After the accidental shooting occurs, you should consider contacting an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer from Johnston Martineau, LLP, to discuss your claim options—especially if you believe you could be held partially liable for the accident. They will ensure you receive reasonable compensation in the aftermath of the accident.