Accidental Shooting Lawyers in Phoenix

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Few topics are quite as divisive as gun ownership; one might even safely estimate that, in the United States, guns are as controversial as they are popular. Yet, regardless of which side of the debate we identify with most easily, few dispute the paramount importance of gun safety. At the end of the day, this remains an easy source of common ground. The underlying point is simple: mishandling firearms can lead to tragic consequences. Even if the result of an accidental firearm discharge is not tragedy, individuals responsible for the mishandling of a firearm may be subject to criminal and civil liability. Our accidental shooting lawyers in Phoenix are here to help.

If you or a loved one was injured in an accidental shooting in Phoenix, do not hesitate to speak with one of our accidental shooting injury lawyers in Phoenix. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer near you.

Accidental Shootings 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.

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.

Case illustrations: Accidental shootings In Arizona

From individual murders to mass shootings, the most gripping headlines involving gun-inflicted deaths often focus heavily on intentional homicides. Accidental shootings, by contrast, receive somewhat less attention.

Sadly, as the foregoing section makes clear, becoming injured at the hands of someone shooting accidentally is more common than you may think. To illustrate, this section will explore a handful of recent accidental shootings in Arizona.

Case Illustration No. 1: Phoenix

On March 1, 2021, the Phoenix Police Department responded to a call about a fatal shooting that took place around 11:30 p.m. The 19-year-old victim died at the scene from gunshot wounds accidentally inflicted by a 16-year-old minor.

According to the minor, he and the victim had been playing “quick draw.” The victim wielded an airsoft gun; the minor wielded a handgun, which both believed to be unloaded. When they each pulled the trigger, the handgun discharged, killing the victim.

Read more: Florance, Jane, and Angela Cordoba Perez. “Police: 19-year-old died after accidentally being shot by 16-year-old in Phoenix.The Arizona Republic, 3 March 2022.

Case Illustration No. 2: Phoenix

On the evening of January 12, 2022, a 2-year-old boy was killed from someone shooting accidentally in Phoenix. According to the police, the child’s parents kept a loaded gun in their apartment in an area accessible to the child. Both the parents and police were unsure whether the fatal shot was delivered by the deceased child or by another 3-year-old child also present in the apartment; the father was charged with one count of reckless endangerment of a child.

Read more: “Child dies after accidental shooting at north Phoenix apartment.ABC 15 Arizona, 12 Jan. 2022.

Case Illustration No. 3: Tempe

On January 7, 2022, a Tempe man took a recently purchased firearm to a gun shop to be examined for defects. The worker at the shop determined that the gun was not defective and that the customer “had not been loading or racking the firearm properly . . .”

The worker offered to show the customer how to properly load and handle the gun, even offering a demonstration at a gun range; the offer was declined. The customer later reloaded the gun himself and, when handling the safety on the gun, accidentally shot his friend who was lying on the couch.

Read more: “Tempe man arrested in accidental shooting death of his friend: Police.Fox 10 Phoenix, 11 Jan. 2022.

Case Illustration No. 4: Peoria

On October 14, 2021, an 18-year-old man was found dead in a Peoria apartment around 9:15 p.m. The victim was killed by a shot to the chest, delivered by the victim’s friend as he reassembled the gun after cleaning. The shot is believed to have been accidental.

Read more: “18-year-old man dead after gun accidentally discharged in Peoria.KTAR News, 12 Oct. 2021.

Case Illustration No. 5: Tempe

On May 16, 2021, police responded to a call around 8:45 p.m. in Tempe. They found a 4-year-old girl at the scene; she died shortly after from a gunshot wound. According to police, the child found the gun after an adult sibling temporarily left the gun hidden beneath “a piece of furniture.” Preliminary investigations suggested that the child had been holding the firearm at the time it went off.

Read more: “PD: 4-year-old dead after accidental shooting in Tempe.ABC 15 Arizona, 17 May 2022.

How to prevent accidental shootings

The case illustrations above highlight just a few tragic instances of deaths caused by accidental shootings. Notably, all five examples were precipitated either by mishandling or improper storage of a gun, if not both. To prevent deadly accidents, the Firearm Industry Trade Association recommends following the Ten Rules of Safe Gun Handling. They are as follows:

1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.

3. Don’t rely on your gun’s “safety.”

4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.

5. Use correct ammunition.

6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care!

7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.

8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.

9. Don’t alter or modify your gun, and have guns serviced regularly.

10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.

Additionally, be sure to store your guns behind lock and key. Stored firearms should be unloaded. In particular, make sure that your firearms are always beyond the reach of children.

Establishing Liability

Whether you use guns recreationally or for personal protection, mishandled firearms are lethal. If you or a loved one are the victim of an accidental shooting, you are likely entitled to compensation. However, as in any personal injury case, victims are often left wondering how to secure that compensation.

If you were injured in an accidental shooting near or in Phoenix, the personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group are ready to handle your case. This section will explore several potential legal routes toward compensation.

Gun operators, Gun owners & Property owners

Of course, the most obvious place to begin evaluating potential sources of liability in an accidental shooting case is with the person who fired the weapon. The second most obvious place is with the owner of the weapon or the person responsible for storing it.

Negligence is by far the most common cause of action brought in personal injury cases, and it is the most likely route to compensation in the event of an accidental shooting. Successfully arguing negligence requires proving four elements, however. If any of these elements are missing, the case fails; they are as follows:

1. Duty: the obligation to protect others from unreasonable risk of injury

2. Breach: the failure to meet that obligation

3. Causation: a close causal connection between the action and the injury

4. Damages: the loss suffered

Again, negligence assumes that we each owe a duty to avoid harming each other. This duty is particularly intuitive in the event of an accidental shooting.

For example, imagine that someone handling a gun mistakenly believes it to be unloaded (see Case Illustration No. 1). Now, imagine that the person points the gun at their friend and playfully pulls the trigger, accidentally killing the friend with a shot to the chest.

The person handling the gun will likely be found negligent if a civil suit is brought against them. They may even be found criminally negligent if prosecuted. This is because guns are understood to be extremely dangerous and because “playing” with a gun is likely a clear violation of the duty to use reasonable care.

Similarly, imagine that a gun owner takes his 12-year-old child on a hunting trip; now, imagine that the parent steps away, entrusting the child with a loaded gun. The child points the gun into the brush and pulls the trigger thinking they saw a deer; the deer was actually another hunter who is fatally wounded by the shot. Conceivably, the gun owner could be found liable for negligent entrustment of the gun to a minor.

Imagine now that the hunting trip goes well—no one is injured. Upon returning home, the parent stores the gun in their master bedroom closet. They do not unload the gun.

Now, imagine that the gun owner’s 7-year-old child invites a similarly-aged friend to play the next day. Unbeknownst to the parent, both children find their way into the bedroom and, eventually, into the closet. If the invited child is somehow harmed by the firearm, the parent would likely be liable for negligence because they did not take reasonable steps to make sure the children could not reach the gun.

Manufacturers and DISTRIBUTORS

Another less common though entirely conceivable route to compensation in an accidental shooting case is products liability. This form of liability allows parties involved in the manufacturing and distribution of a product to be held liable for injuries caused by defective products. This normally comes in three flavors.

Design Defects

These are defects that are inherent to the product itself. The defect would be present in all products manufactured according to the defective specifications.

Manufacturing Defects

These are defects that arise in the manufacturing process but are not inherent to the product design. More likely than not, the defect would be present in a very limited number of finished products.

Marketing Defects

These defects are not present in finished products themselves. Rather, the defect involves a failure to properly warn consumers of reasonably foreseeable risks. It may also involve the failure to provide adequate instructions on how to use a product safely.

Cases involving products liability are generally very complex. This is because liability begins long before the accident and because liability can flow from multiple parties in the manufacturing and distribution chain. Victims seeking compensation must prove the nature of the defect, which generally involves technical evaluations of designs and products; further, defendants are likely to litigate vigorously to pass blame among themselves.

Whether you are arguing negligence or products liability, it is important that shooting victims and their families be represented by an experienced injury attorney who has handled similar cases. The accidental shooting lawyers at Zinda Law Group are here to help. Call today for a 100% free consultation with an injury lawyer near you.

OUR ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING LAWYERS IN PHOENIX CAN HELP

Whether used for recreation or self-defense, guns are lethal and should be handled with care. Failure to do so often ends in catastrophic injury and irreversible tragedy. If you or a loved one are the victim of an accidental shooting, you are likely entitled to compensation.

Our attorneys are compassionate and want to help. At Zinda Law Group, we believe every personal injury victim deserves excellent legal representation. Our injury attorneys are honored to provide that representation and are a phone call away.

If you or a loved one was injured in an accidental shooting in or around Phoenix, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with one of our accidental shooting lawyers. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. 

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