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In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the number of people killed in unintentional shootings in the United States was 489. It is unclear how many more may have been injured due to accidents involving firearms during the same time period.
If you have been injured in an accidental shooting, you may still have the right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, etc. To determine who, if anyone, is liable, it is necessary to determine what caused the accident. Specifically, you need to determine whether the accident happened because of a manufacturing defect or improper handling. The former will involve a product liability lawsuit, while the latter involves personal injury.
It is almost impossible to bring a successful personal injury lawsuit against a gun manufacturer because of federal regulations in place that protect such companies from litigation in the event that the gun was used illegally. However, if the gun was used appropriately and an accident occurred anyway due to a defect in design or production, you may have grounds to bring a product liability suit. If the manufacturer failed to provide relevant information regarding possible risks of use, that could also warrant a product liability suit.
This may include negligence on the part of the person who fired a gun or it could include reckless gun handling that is intentional. Negligent parties may include gun owners who have not received the proper gun training, parents who allowed their children access to guns, and people handling firearms while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Reckless handling could include pointing a loaded gun at others, even without the intent to fire, or firing a gun into the air without thinking about what could happen when the bullet comes down.
Steps To Take
After an accidental shooting, there are important steps you can take to protect your legal rights. Your first priority should be receiving the necessary medical treatment. Once that is taken care of, do the following:
- Preserve the Gun: If possible, prevent anyone else from coming in contact with the weapon so that any evidence that remains can be collected.
- Communicate With Others: These include witnesses to the accident and the person who shot the gun. Obtain descriptions of the incident and contact information from each.
- File a Police Report: This can be helpful in determining if criminal charges are appropriate in addition to civil charges.
Even if you survive an accidental shooting, you can still experience lasting after effects. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Trenton, NJ to find out what your legal options are.
Thanks to Davis & Brusca for their insight into personal injury claims and accidental shootings.