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Firearm Accidents, Injuries and Wrongful Deaths
Every year thousands of people are injured or killed by guns. If you or someone you know has been injured by a gun, you may wonder what recourse you have. Depending upon the circumstances of the injury, you may have recourse against the manufacturer, seller, distributor, owner or purchaser of the firearm under theories of products liability and negligence.
The Tucson law firm of Bache & Lynch represents gun injury victims and families who have lost a loved one in a firearm accident caused by another’s negligence, recklessness or wrongful act.
Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Arizona gun accident and injury lawyer.
Detailed Information: Firearm Liability Law – Who May Be Sued
Every year thousands of people are injured or killed by firearms. If you or someone you know has been injured by a firearm, you may wonder what recourse you have. Depending upon the circumstances of the injury, you may have recourse against the shooter, or the owner, purchaser, manufacturer, seller, distributor of the firearm, under theories of products liability and/or negligence.
Were You Injured from Defective Gun Design or Manufacture?
When looking at a firearm injury, one of the first questions to ask, and one that courts will ask, is how did it happen? If the weapon involved was defective, then recovery may be possible under products liability law. If the weapon was not defective, then it is necessary to turn to the laws governing negligence for recovery.
A product can be defective in a number of ways. If a product is marketed with inadequate instructions or warnings as to foreseeable risks, it may be found defective. If a product is manufactured with a flaw, and appears to have malfunctioned in some way, then recovery may be possible under a products liability theory. In determining whether there was a malfunction, the courts will look at whether the weapon operated as expected or intended. If a product is designed in such way that it is foreseeable that injury could result, and if the risk of injury could have been reduced by an alternative design, then a product is said to be defective in its design.
If the injury or death occurred through the use of a weapon that was not defective, recovery may be possible under a negligence theory. To succeed in a negligence claim the injured person must show that the defendant (shooter, owner, seller, etc.) owed a duty to the injured person, that the duty was breached, and that the breach of the duty was the cause of the injury.
Forseeability and Causation – What Must be Proven for You to Recover
When determining whether the injured person was owed a duty, the court will look at several factors including the foreseeability of harm to the injured person and the degree of certainty that the plaintiff (the person bringing the claim) would suffer injury. Courts will also look to see how close the connection was between the defendant’s (the person sued) conduct and the plaintiff’s injury. Once it is established what, if any, duty was owed, the question becomes whether that duty was breached. If it was, the defendant may be found negligent. However, the fact that a defendant is negligent with respect to a weapon does not mean that the plaintiff automatically recovers. The plaintiff must still show that the negligence caused the injury. This is called causation.
In assessing the cause of the injury, the courts will also look at the conduct of the plaintiff and other parties involved in the incident. Thus, a plaintiff who is negligent and whose negligence contributes to his or her injury, will be required to bear some of the responsibility for the injury.
Cases involving negligence can range from obviously dangerous conduct, such as playing Russian roulette with loaded weapons, to simply careless conduct such as loading a weapon without the safety on, or selling a weapon without having it thoroughly examined and test-fired. Less obvious are cases involving negligence in the sale, entrustment or storage of weapons.
Negligent Sales, Entrustment and Storage – When a Seller or Gun Owner May be Liable for Injury Caused By Another
Negligent sales may occur when a sale is in violation of law or when there is a sale to purchasers who are intoxicated, mentally unstable, or who indicate that they are apt to misuse the weapon. Giving physical possession of a weapon to a prospective purchaser before all the legal requirements for the sale are completed, may also constitute a negligent sale.
Negligent entrustment cases are similar to negligent sale cases. In both negligent sale and negligent entrustment cases, the crux of the argument is that the defendant was negligent in allowing someone who the defendant knew (or had reason to know) was incompetent, inexperienced, or reckless, to have access to the gun. Entrustment occurs when the gun is given to the person, the person is given permission to use it, or the defendant knows or has reason to know that the person will use it without permission.
Cases may also be based on negligent storage. Negligent storage involves storing the weapon in such a way that it is likely to be misused. The usual scenario in such cases involves guns left accessible to children, particularly small children who do not and cannot be expected to appreciate the danger posed by the weapon. Negligent storage cases may be successful even if there is theft of a gun, if the theft was reasonably foreseeable. In such cases, the courts will look at various factors, including how securely the weapon was stored.
Contact Bache & Lynch
For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Arizona gun injury attorney, please call the Tucson offices of Bache & Lynch at 520-293-5300. You may also contact us using the Contact Form above to request an appointment.