Everyone knows that guns can be dangerous. However, that knowledge doesn’t always translate to taking the necessary precautions when handling a firearm. Accidental shootings happen at a high rate every year, and the resulting injuries are typically serious and often fatal. If you were shot by an accidental discharge, an accidental shooting lawyer in Phoenix can help.
At Zinda Law Group, we have been helping accident victims recover compensation from those liable for their injuries for more than 15 years. Our track record speaks for itself, with over 10,000 clients served and $210,000,000+ recovered. Contact us today through our site or by phone to schedule a free consultation with one of our Phoenix personal injury lawyers.
Civil Liability Following an Accidental Shooting in Phoenix
After an accidental shooting, it is important to understand the difference between your civil case and any criminal charges the liable party will likely face. In criminal proceedings, the at-fault party will face penalties such as jail time and fines. However, you won’t recover compensation for your damages as a result of a guilty verdict in criminal court.
Instead, you will need to file a civil lawsuit against the liable party. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the details of the accidental shooting, you could recover various damages. In addition to various economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are also frequently awarded in accidental shooting cases.
For a free legal consultation with a accidental shooting lawyer serving Phoenix, call 800-863-5312
Determining Negligence After an Accidental Shooting
To prove that the liable party was negligent in their actions following an accidental shooting, you must establish that the four elements of negligence were present.
Duty of Care
The first element of negligence is the existence of a duty of care. When the liable party in an accidental shooting case is the person who fired the gun, proving that they owed you a duty of care is simple. Anyone handling a firearm has a duty of care to all those around them to behave reasonably safely to reduce the risk of harm.
Breached Duty of Care
The next thing that needs to be established is that the liable party breached their duty of care. Some common examples of a breached duty of care in an accidental shooting case include:
- Failing to point the weapon away from others
- Placing a finger on the trigger when not intending to shoot
- Failing to engage the safety
- Failing to check whether or not the weapon is loaded
The third element you will need to demonstrate is that you incurred damages. If you were shot, photographs and your medical records can easily prove the existence of damages. However, some damages, like hearing loss resulting from the discharge of the firearm, can be more difficult to prove.
Having medical records from immediately after your accident can help prove that these damages were caused by the accidental shooting.
The final step is to show that your damages were caused by the liable party breaching their duty of care. An experienced attorney can help you prove that the at-fault party caused your damages by failing to take proper precautions.
Accidental Shooting in Phoenix lawyers near me 800-863-5312
Product Liability in Accidental Shooting Cases
The liable party in an accidental shooting case is not always the person who fired the gun. Gun manufacturers can also be to blame. If a gun is defective and the shooting was the result of a product defect, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the weapon.
There are three different types of product defects.
A design defect is when the gun is manufactured according to specifications, but a flaw in the design makes it inherently dangerous. All guns can be dangerous if handled improperly. However, if the gun is operated with all appropriate safety precautions, yet still causes unintended harm, there might be a defect in the design.
A manufacturing defect is when the gun is designed properly, but mistakes are made during manufacturing. Manufacturing defects can result from faulty equipment used during the construction of the firearm, human error, or attempts to save money by cutting corners at the expense of safety.
All dangerous products must come with proper warnings to protect the user and others from harm. While everyone knows a gun can be dangerous, it is still critical that safety instructions are included with the firearm to limit the likelihood of harm.
Take Action Before the Filing Deadline
When pursuing compensation through a lawsuit after an accidental shooting, you must be sure to file before the deadline. Arizona’s personal injury statute of limitations generally grants accident victims two years to file a lawsuit against the party at fault for their damages. Missing this deadline will most likely lead to the loss of your right to claim compensation.
However, you need to understand that special circumstances can apply to your case that alter how much time you have to take action. Because of this, it is critical that you contact an experienced Phoenix accident shooting attorney even if you believe you have missed your chance to take legal action.
On the other side of things, an exception can also put further limitations on the amount of time you have to act. Hiring an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident is the best way to avoid losing your right to claim compensation due to an unforeseen filing deadline. Your lawyer can figure out how long you have to take action if exceptions apply to your case.
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Shooting Accident Statistics
Guns are extremely common in the United States. According to a briefing paper prepared by the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, there were approximately 857 million civilian-held firearms in the world at the end of 2017. Though the United States accounted for only 4% of the global population, it accounted for 46% of the entire civilian-held global stock; in other words, there were 120.5 civilian-held firearms in the United States per 100 residents.
Similarly, according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 40% of adults in the United States reported living in a household with at least one gun. Another 30% of individuals surveyed reported personally owning at least one gun.
The number of firearm-related deaths in the United States is correspondingly high. According to a 2019 study published in Injury Epidemiology, unintentional deaths comprise 9% of firearm deaths around the world.
Yet, Americans are four times more likely to die from unintentional shootings that individuals in other high-income countries. In 2020 alone, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported a total of 45,222 firearm deaths in the United States, an increase of 13.9% from 39,707 in the previous year.
Somewhat more optimistically, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) reported that of the 27,000 individuals admitted to emergency departments in the United States for unintentional firearm injuries, more than 26,000 do not die from their injuries. The EFSGV further explains that, though unintentional firearm injuries account for 37% of all nonfatal firearm injuries, they account for less than 2% of all gun deaths.
Even so, the EFSGV reported 486 unintentional firearm fatalities in 2019. Similarly, the Injury Epidemiology report cited above evaluated data from 2005–2015 and estimated 430 unintentional firearm fatalities in the United States per year. In other words, nearly 500 people die from unintentional firearm injuries each year—more than one person per day.
Leading Causes Of Accidental Shooting Deaths
The leading causes of these fatalities break down as follows:
- Playing with a gun (28.3%)
- Believing that the gun was not loaded (17.2%)
- Hunting (13.8%)
Sadly, accidental shooting fatalities are strongly correlated with age (see Case Illustrations below). Nearly half (52%) of victims are under the age of 35. Over a quarter (28%) are between the ages of 20–34.
Finally, another quarter are between the ages of 0–19. Of those victims between the ages of 0–14, 78% were accidentally shot by someone else. By contrast, the majority of victims over this age range are killed by accidentally self-inflicted wounds.
The fatality rate is also strongly correlated with gender, as the majority of victims are male. In 2019, 90% of unintentional shooting victims were male; this number evens out as the age range is lowered. The lowest male to female ratio of unintentional shooting fatalities occurs among children between the age of 0–9.
Numbers like these speak for themselves, highlighting the importance of gun safety. If you were injured in an accidental shooting, the personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group are a phone call away. Our injury attorneys are ready to hear your case.
Reach Out to an Experienced Accidental Shooting Attorney Today
Following an accidental shooting, one of the most important things to do is to hire an experienced accidental shooting lawyer in Phoenix. Attempting to recover compensation on your own is unlikely to yield favorable results. At Zinda Law Group, we have a long history of securing significant compensation for our clients.
Contact us today by phone or through our website to schedule a free case consultation with a member of our legal team.