Who Is At Fault for an Accidental Shooting?

Last updated on: January 26, 2021


Every year, more than 27,000 individuals are admitted to the emergency department for unintentional firearm injuries. An accidental shooting can leave victims with serious injuries. Victims and their families may be left wondering who is liable in an accidental shooting and who can be held responsible for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The accident shooting lawyers at Zinda Law Group have experience representing victims and helping them seek the compensation they deserve. Call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free attorney consultation.


  • In 2020, there were at least 292 unintentional shootings by children under age 17, resulting in 117 deaths and 183 injuries
  • Each year, nearly 500 people die from unintentional firearm injuries.
  • Unintentional firearm injuries account for 37% of nonfatal firearms injuries but less than 2% of all gun deaths.
  • Annually, nearly 350 children unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else when they find unlocked, loaded guns.
  • Non-powder guns, like BB, pellet, and paintball guns, can fire at the speed of traditional guns, leading to nearly 22,000 injuries each year, especially eye injuries.
  • The vast majority of victims of unintentional shootings are male. In 2018, 90% of unintentional gun death victims were male.

Read More: Accidental Gun Death Lawyers 


An accidental shooting can occur for several reasons and a combination of circumstances. Some of the most common reasons that accidental shootings occur include:

Improper Storage of Firearms

An estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. It is recommended that guns be stored unloaded in a locked gun safe and the ammunition stored separately. Correctly storing guns can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidental shootings.

Lack of Training

Without gun safety training, individuals may not know to check to see if a gun is loaded or how to use the safety feature, making them more likely to accidentally shoot themselves or others.

Lack of Supervision

Children who are left unsupervised with an improperly stored gun may be unaware of the dangers it poses that children as young as three years old are strong enough to pull the trigger on a handgun. 


When alcohol and firearms mix, they can have deadly consequences. Alcohol and drugs impair coordination and judgment, increasing the chances of an accidental shooting.

Mistaken Target

A mistaken target can occur in hunting accidents when one hunter mistakes another hunter for game or a moving target. An accidental shooting can also occur when a hunter aims for a target, but misses and hits a person. 


Even individuals who are experienced gun users can still be involved in an accidental shooting when they are careless. Errors when handling a gun or cleaning it can result in serious or fatal injuries.

Firearm Defects

In some cases, an accidental shooting can occur because of a mechanical malfunction with a defectively manufactured firearm. Firearm defects may also be the result of failing to maintain the firearm or ammunition in proper condition.


After an accidental shooting, victims and their family members may feel uncertain and overwhelmed about what to do next. The below steps outline what to do after an accidental shooting.

Seek Medical Attention

In many accidental shooting cases, emergency services will need to be called. However, after being treated at the hospital or doctor’s office, you should continue to monitor your injuries for infections.

Document the Accident

One of the most important steps is to document the accident.  This means keeping and maintaining an organized file that contains important pieces of information relating to the accident and injury, such as:

  • Photos of your injuries
  • Contacts of witnesses who saw the accident
  • Pictures of the location of the accident
  • Pictures of the firearm that caused the accident
  • Damage to surrounding areas from the bullets

File a Police Report

In many states, if you are brought to the hospital with a gunshot wound, the medical professionals will have an automatic duty to notify the police. If the police do not file a report, you should file a report as it will be beneficial to help you recall specific details about the accidental shooting later on.

Document Your Expenses

An accident can be expensive. Hospital costs, missed work, and rehabilitation costs can quickly add up. But you shouldn’t have to pay if the accident is not your fault. It’s important that you keep track of all receipts and paperwork related to your accident. This could include:

  • Hospital and doctor bills 
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractor bills
  • Dental bills
  • Documented time taken off from work due to injuries


Liability for an accidental shooting will likely depend on state-specific laws. These include laws on the types of guns allowed, the quantity and ammunition a person may have, how guns and ammunition need to be stored, conceal and carry rules, and the time period for gun purchases and transfers. Taking each of these factors into consideration is important in determining accidental shooting liability. In general, the following people may be liable for an accidental shooting:

Gun Owner

Each state has specific laws on what gun owners must do to be considered responsible owners. However, several states require that gun owners care for and store their guns safely. In some states, this means gun owners will be considered negligent if they keep a loaded gun where a child could gain access to it.

Gun Operator

If an accidental shooting occurs because of a gun operator’s negligence, then the operator will likely be at least partially at fault. This may include situations where a gun operator is walking and carelessly discharges the gun, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or points the gun at someone without intending to shoot.

Gun Manufacturer

When firearm owners take all safety precautions and an accidental shooting still occurs, it may be the result of a defectively manufactured gun. In 2005, legislation was passed to shield gun manufacturers from most liability in gun accidents and deaths. However, a gun manufacturer may still be liable if a gun is defective and that defect results in an injury. For example, if a gun is manufactured with an incorrectly installed trigger, and that manufacturing defect causes the gun to fire and injure a person, the gun manufacturer may be liable.


Unfortunately, accidental shootings can happen to children when they visit their friends’ homes and play with their parents’ guns. When a person is injured or killed in an accidental shooting while visiting the home of someone else, the homeowner may be liable if the homeowner failed to lock up and secure the weapon. Homeowners who fail to secure their guns may also be liable if a child takes the gun elsewhere and injures or kills another person with it. 


What May an Experienced Accidental Shooting Attorney Do for Me?

Our lawyers are here to handle your case through every part of the process. States have different requirements for filing your claim, deadlines that must be met, and experts that need to be consulted to determine the potential damages you may be able to receive. Our accidental shooting lawyers have experience investigating, negotiating, settling, and going to court on behalf of our clients.

What Compensation May I Seek After an Accidental Shooting?

At Zinda Law Group, we may be able to help you determine the compensation you are entitled to after an accidental shooting. Victims of shooting accidents are often left with serious injuries that can take months to heal or be permanent, life-long injuries. While every case is unique, the extent of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills, and lost wages may all be used to calculate the value of a victim’s case.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

If you were injured in an accidental shooting and want to file a lawsuit, you need to be aware of the time limits, or statutes of limitations, that are in place. Each state sets its own statute of limitations, so it will depend on how much time you have to file a claim for your injuries. It is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to help you navigate the filing timeline and help you receive the compensation you deserve.


At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys have helped many victims and their families seek the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one was the victim of a shooting accident, then you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and much more.

We believe victims and their families should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with one of our experienced accidental shooting lawyers. 

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