What to Do After An Accidental Shooting in New Mexico?

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Many gun owners have firearms  for hunting, recreational or competitive shooting, self-defense, or as a family heirloom. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries or death occur if a firearm is not stored or handled properly. It’s important to remember that firearms are deadly weapons. Without the proper care and safety precautions, accidental shootings can lead to severe injury or even death.

If you or a loved one have been injured by an accidental shooting in New Mexico, call Zinda Law Group immediately at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled gunshot lawyers. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.

who might be liable for an accidental shooting?

If you have been injured in a shooting, a lawyer with years of experience helping other personal injury victims may be able to help you better understand your legal options and determine who may be liable for your injuries or the death of your loved one. Depending on the circumstances that led to the unintentional or accidental shooting, you may be able to file an accidental shooting lawsuit against one or more parties who may have been at least partially responsible for your injuries, including:

Gun Owner

In many accidental shooting cases, the firearm owner may be liable for any injuries or damages suffered by one or more victims or their loved ones. If the gun owner negligently failed to properly store the firearm to prevent access by a child or another unauthorized person, the owner may be liable, as well as if the gun owner negligently entrusted the firearm to the shooter. Finally, the owner of the firearm may be liable for any accidental discharges where the gun accidentally fired during cleaning, after hitting a bump while driving, or otherwise was mishandling the weapon or failing to engage its safety. In general, a firearm owner may be held liable for any injuries or accidental shooting deaths that are caused by the owner’s firearm.

Firearm Instructor or Training Course Director

If the person who accidentally shot you or your loved one received inadequate training from an instructor or training course despite being cleared to use the firearm by the instructor, the firearm instructor or director of the training course may be liable for your injuries. Further, they may also be liable if the shooter was authorized to use a different type of firearm than the type of weapon that he or she was actually proficient with, such as if the instructor cleared the shooter to use a handgun instead of a shotgun or rifle, despite the shooter not having been cleared to use the handgun.

Intoxicated Shooter

If the person who accidentally shot you was using the firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then the intoxicated shooter will often be liable for any injuries or damages caused by handling the firearm while intoxicated. Further, in some cases, the person who sold the alcohol to the shooter may be liable if the shooter was visibly intoxicated, especially if the bartender knew the person would be handling a firearm.

By helping you determine who is liable for your unintentional gunshot injuries, your gunshot attorney will help you pursue the maximum compensation you may be entitled to under New Mexico law. So, if you have been shot accidentally in any of the previously described scenarios, give Zinda Law a call; the sooner we begin to work on your case, the sooner we may be able to recover compensation to help you pay for the treatment of your injuries.

Gun Manufacturers

In the United States, gun manufacturers can generally not be held liable even if the manufacturer’s firearm is then used to intentionally or accidentally harm or kill one or more victims. However, if the gun fired accidentally as a result of a manufacturing or design defect in the firearm, such as a defect allowing the gun to fire without the trigger being pulled, then the manufacturer may be held liable.

How do accidental shootings occur?

Unintentional firearm shootings can happen as a result of a variety of causes, generally as the result of negligent behavior, such as by:

  • Failing to properly store the firearm to prevent unauthorized access by children, teens, or any other unauthorized person.
  • Failing to practice safe muzzle awareness by never pointing a gun at something or someone the person does not intend to fire at.
  • Exercising poor trigger discipline by failing to keep the finger off of the trigger unless preparing to fire the gun.
  • Failing to use trigger locks for firearms when storing them.
  • Leaving a loaded gun in a visible and easily accessible position.
  • Operating a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Failing to completely unload every gun before handling the gun or before cleaning it.
  • Negligently entrusting the gun to a person who either does not have the capacity to safely use the firearm or simply does not know how to handle and use the firearm properly or safely.
  • Failing to unload a gun and inspect it to ensure it was unloaded before cleaning or handling the firearm.
  • Negligently handling, operating, aiming, or otherwise using poor judgment while holding the firearm.
  • Neglecting to ensure the gun’s safety is on at all times, except when the person holding the firearm is about to lawfully use the gun.
  • Using an unsafe gun that was defectively designed with a faulty trigger, allowing the gun to fire without the trigger being pulled.

Accidental gunshot statistics

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 1,300 children die from gunshots each year, while 5,790 additional children are treated for gunshot wounds every year in the United States. Of these victims, the vast majority were victims of intentional gunshots but 82 children died from accidental gunshot wounds while nearly a quarter of all children treated for nonfatal firearm injuries were victims of accidental shootings. While unintentional firearm deaths among children decreased across the nation between 2002 to 2014, both younger and older children continued to be more likely to be killed in an accidental shooting by someone else rather than from an unintentional, self-inflicted, accidental gunshot.

Meanwhile, 486 Americans overall died from unintentional firearm injuries in 2019, whether self-inflicted or caused by someone else, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Regarding nonfatal gun injuries, a separate study published in 2017 reported that over one-third of all nonfatal gun injuries were the result of unintentional shootings.

Finally, another 2019 study noted that almost twenty-five percent of victims who died from accidental gunshot injuries, and almost half of 20- to 29-year-olds who died from accidental gunshot wounds, were under the influence of alcohol at the time. This study, published in Injury Epidemiology, also found that the top three causes of an unintentional gunshot death, which make up almost sixty percent of all accidental gun deaths, are:

  • Playing with the gun
  • Falsely believing that a gun was unloaded
  • Hunting accidents

Unfortunately, until more people take greater care whenever handling a firearm and make sure that children are not able to gain unauthorized access to a firearm, these accidental shootings will continue to result in avoidable deaths and catastrophic injuries. If you or your child were injured in an accidental shooting, an experienced accidental shooting lawyer in New Mexico may be able to help you pursue the compensation you and your family are entitled to.

how to prevent accidental shootings

Fortunately, despite the disturbing rates of fatal and nonfatal accidental gunshot injuries in the United States, there are various steps that responsible firearm owners, parents, and others can take to effectively prevent accidental shootings. While firearms are deadly objects, adopting and following safe and appropriate methods for storing, handling, cleaning, carrying, and using a firearm can lead to fewer victims suffering potentially life-altering or fatal injuries.

Store All Firearms Safely and Securely

If a gun owner stores their firearm in their home, safe firearm storage practices must always be practiced, especially if there are any children in the home or with access to the home. Any firearm should be stored unloaded and locked, with all ammunition also locked but stored separately from the firearm, an any children in the house should not have access to the key or the lock combinations to access any firearms or ammunition stored in the home. It is worthy of note that, while various states have enacted laws mandating safe storage practices for firearms, New Mexico has not enacted any such legislation.

Always Practice Safe Handling of Any Firearm

Anyone who is handling a firearm, whether picking the gun up to clean it, fire it, or even to simply move the gun or to store it should always take great care when handling the firearm. Importantly, every gun should always be treated as if it is loaded, such as by never pointing the gun at anything or anyone you do not intend to fire at. Additional ways to handle a firearm safely include:

  • Always keeping the gun’s safety engaged and your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Never engage in any horseplay while holding a firearm or with anyone else who is handling a firearm.
  • Unload the gun any time that it is not currently in use.
  • Do not fire the gun at water or a flat, hard surface.

what to do after an accidental shooting

Understandably, the aftermath of an accidental shooting can be very confusing and chaotic, especially if a loved one has been killed or seriously injured. However, there are a number of key steps to take that may be crucial following an accidental shooting, including:

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accidental gunshot, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Often, gunshots may cause catastrophic or potentially fatal injuries, especially without immediate medical attention to stop blood loss and repair damage caused by the gunshot.

2. Preserve All Evidence

Despite the chaotic aftermath of an accidental shooting, you should take care to preserve as much evidence as possible. If the gun was yours, make sure that you preserve the firearm carefully and safely, as the firearm itself may be essential to prove many claims, especially if the gun may have accidentally discharged as a result of a design or manufacturing defect. Additionally, keep any other relevant materials, such as any trigger locks or similar equipment.

3. Maintain Thorough Documentation

Maintain thorough documentation of everything pertaining to the shooting or your injuries. Keep all medical records for yourself or your loved one, keep a copy of your loved one’s death certificate and medical records if the shooting was fatal, and take as many pictures and videos as possible of the scene, of the firearm, and of any injuries.

4. Contact an Experienced Gunshot Lawyer in New Mexico

Understandably, the aftermath of an accidental shooting may be chaotic and you may be unsure of what to do next; contact a skilled accidental shooting lawyer as soon as possible, for they will be able to guide you through the entire legal process. For starters, your attorney may help you better understand your legal options and can handle your claim while you focus on recovering from your own injuries or the loss of a loved one.

Contact an accidental shooting attorney in new mexico today

Despite happening all too frequently across the United States and in New Mexico, many accidental shootings could potentially be prevented if those handling the firearms took active steps to prevent accidental shootings by safely storing the gun when not in use and by always properly handling the firearm with care. However, if someone was accidentally shot in New Mexico, hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer may be necessary to determine who may be liable for the shooting and to help the victim pursue maximum compensation from the liable party or parties.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accidental shooting, you should call the skilled team at Zinda Law Group as soon as possible for a better understanding of your legal options, who may be liable for your injuries, and how you may be able to pursue a claim to seek any compensation you may be entitled to. Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with an experienced gunshot attorney from Zinda Law Group. You will not pay anything unless we win your case; it’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

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