Personal Injury and Texas Gun Laws
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Firearms can be dangerous objects, especially if not handled properly or if they are defective. Many states like Texas have enacted various gun laws and personal injury laws in an attempt to avoid either intentional or accidental gun injuries or deaths.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Texas in a firearm accident, you should contact an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer who understands Texas gun laws and personal injury laws. Call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
HOW DO GUN INJURIES HAPPEN AND WHO MAY BE LIABLE?
Generally, we expect firearms to function as they are advertised. However, while many gun injuries may be caused by someone’s negligent behavior, some injuries may also be caused because the gun malfunctioned. Firearms may malfunction because of a variety of defects, including:
- Defective ammunition
- The trigger is overly sensitive (also referred to as a “hair-trigger”)
- Flawed firearm accessories (may occur when gun owners customize weapons, such as AR-style rifles)
- The gun required the safety to be off for the gun to be loaded or unloaded
- Barrel failure
- The gun fired when dropped
- The gun’s chamber indicator was faulty
Generally, gun manufacturers are protected from lawsuits for deaths caused by firearms they made. However, if your injury was caused by a defect in a weapon that caused it to malfunction somehow, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for the defective product. To hold a gun manufacturer liable for an accidental shooting, you will need to prove that the firearm contained a manufacturing defect or a design defect, or the manufacture failed to provide adequate warnings to minimize any foreseeable risks.
Hunting is a very popular recreational activity across the United States, and Texas is no different. Thousands of hunters use firearms across the state each year. However, as with any activity involving dangerous weapons, hunting can be dangerous, especially if someone engages in negligent behavior. Common examples of hunting accidents may include:
- Hunters accidentally discharging a loaded firearm while walking carelessly
- Hunters accidentally shooting someone after mistaking them for an animal
- Hunters accidentally shooting a person after attempting to shoot at an animal but missing
Given the deadly nature of firearms, many of these hunting accidents may often be fatal. If you or a loved one have been involved in a hunting accident, the person who fired the weapon injuring you may be liable for your injuries or the death of your loved one. However, some hunting accidents may involve multiple shooters, making it very difficult to identify which person was the shooter who injured you or your loved one. In a situation involving multiple shooters who could have struck the victim, Texas law will generally hold every shooter liable for the victim’s injuries, unless the defendant can affirmatively prove that they did not shoot the victim.
Read More: Texas Hunting Regulations
Finally, many gun injuries may come from accidental shootings. Like hunting accidents, accidental shooting cases may often be the result of human error and are often easily preventable if proper care had been taken. Minors around the ages of 3 or 4, as well as teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17, are the most common age group to be involved in accidental firearm injuries. Some of these tragic accidents may occur from human error such as:
- A minor intentionally obtains a parent’s firearm and accidentally shoots himself or herself or accidentally shoots someone else
- A minor discovers an unsecured firearm in the home that was loaded and then accidentally shoots himself or herself or others
- A gun owner fires the weapon into the air, whether in a celebratory manner or for any other motivation, and the bullet eventually hits a bystander
Similar to other firearm accidents, the person who fired the gun may often be liable for any injuries suffered in an accidental shooting. However, others may often be liable in some cases, especially in cases where the shooter was a minor or another person who was not authorized to be using the weapon. If the firearm owner failed to take proper care in securing the firearm or failed to prevent a minor from using the gun, the owner may be liable for any injuries or deaths suffered in the accidental shooting.
TEXAS GUN LAWS
When applying for a license to carry a firearm in Texas, Texas is a “shall-issue” state, which means that the Texas Department of Public Safety generally is required to issue a handgun license as long as the applicant meets the necessary qualifications to possess such a license. Some requirements to possess a license in Texas generally include if the applicant:
- Is a legal resident of Texas for at least six months preceding the date of application
- Is at least 21 years old
- Has not been convicted of any felony
- Has not been convicted of certain misdemeanors
- Is not a “chemically dependent person”
Further, Texas requires any applicant for a handgun license to first provide evidence of handgun proficiency, most notably by attending a course in handgun proficiency developed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Open and Concealed Carry
Texas does not place any additional restrictions to federal law on owning a gun. Instead, most Texas gun laws relate to possessing a gun in public, whether openly or concealed. The Texas Open Carry Law passed in 2015 allows individuals to openly carry handguns anywhere the licensed concealed carry of a firearm is allowed. With this law, Texas began issuing a “License to Carry” (LTC) rather than a “Concealed Handgun License” (CHL), as license holders may now carry a weapon either concealed on their persons or either partially or totally visible on their person. However, any unconcealed handgun must be carried in either a belt or shoulder holster. Most importantly, unlike other southern states, Texas does require a license to carry a firearm openly. To obtain a license, individuals are required to attend training intended to provide instruction on the use of restraint holster and proper methods of safely carrying handguns openly.
Further, the Texas legislature also passed a law in 2015 allowing for the carrying of a firearm on college campuses in Texas. This law allows for an individual with a carry license to carry a concealed handgun while on a college campus in the state of Texas. However, the open carrying of handguns remains illegal on campuses, even with an open carry license.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A GUNSHOT ACCIDENT
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you or a loved one have been involved in a shooting accident, you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible after the accident. By quickly seeking treatment for any injuries, you may often be able to avoid additional expenses and pain further down the road.
2. Gather Documentation
Firearm accidents may be especially complex, especially depending upon whether the person who shot the firearm was not actually the gun’s owner. You should collect all available medical records for any medical treatment you received for your injuries, including a record of any diagnoses or other notes made by your doctors. Further, you should attempt to take as many pictures as you can of where the accident occurred, if you can. If there were any cameras around the scene of the accident, you should attempt to obtain this video footage if possible, as any recording of the accidental gunshot may help your attorney pursue your claim, such as by demonstrating that the person wielding the gun may have been behaving negligently, such as waving the gun haphazardly, shooting in the air, or pointing the weapon at innocent bystanders.
3. Contact an Experienced Texas Gun Injury Lawyer
Most importantly, of the crucial steps you can take is to contact an experienced Texas gun injury lawyer to handle your claim for you. An experienced lawyer understands how Texas gun laws impact personal injury laws. Your attorney may allow you to focus on recovering from your injuries or the loss of your loved one. Your lawyer may often begin by investigating the accident to gather any available evidence that may support your claim. After obtaining any available evidence, your attorney may then begin negotiating with the other party’s insurance company to seek a mutually agreeable settlement offer and avoid the expenses of a trial.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR GUNSHOT ACCIDENTS IN TEXAS
Lawsuits must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations, or legal time limits. In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, including gunshot injury claims, is two years. As a result, you will have two years from the date the accident occurred to file any personal injury lawsuit to seek any compensation you may be entitled to. However, in some cases, this statute of limitations may be tolled, such as if the victim was a minor at the time of the accident. If you have been injured in a firearm accident in Texas, you should contact an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you you’re your claim before the statute of limitations expires.
CONSULT THE TEXAS PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our Texas personal injury and firearm accident lawyers may be able to help you if you or your loved one have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligent behavior. Texas gun laws may impact your personal injury suit. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have years of experience helping our clients seek the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after being injured or losing a loved one in an accidental shooting.