Accidental gun violence is becoming an epidemic in the United States, leading to more than 7700 injuries between 2001 and 2010. Victims of accidental gunshots may pursue compensation for their injuries with the help of an accident lawyer.
Gun owners are exposed to liability in three ways.
Failure To Secure The Weapon
Illinois gun laws make it a crime for a gun owner to leave a weapon in any location where someone under the age of 14 can gain access to it. In order to legally secure the gun, the gun owner must do one of the following:
- Lock the gun in a gun safe
- Install and use a mechanical trigger lock device
- Store the gun in a lockable gun case
- Place the weapon in an area of the home, such as the top of a closet shelf, where children would not be able to reach it
Unattended weapons are the leading cause of accidental gunshot injuries and are usually the basis for a lawsuit from an accident lawyer.
Leaving Weapons Loaded
An accident lawyer may raise questions of liability based on how and where the gun owner stored ammunition for the weapon. A loaded gun is not a violation in and of itself; however, the failure to protect ammunition can be a contributing factor to civil liability.
Gun safety experts recommend that for ammunition storage, gun owners should:
- Keep the ammunition cool and dry
- Store it in a separate location from the weapon
- Invest in a lockable safe specific for the ammunition
Homeowners accept responsibility for the health and safety of anyone who enters their property, and when it comes to children, that means homeowners are held to a high standard of attention. Just as a homeowner who allows a child to fall into a pool is responsible for negligence in the accident, the same standard applies to gun owners and gunshot injuries.
An accident lawyer can prove inattention by demonstrating that a reasonable person, under the same circumstances would have been able to prevent the accident with reasonable effort. This standard, in conjunction with gun and ammunition storage standards create clear guidelines for the level of responsibility gun owners have to children in their homes.
Accidental shootings account for hundreds of serious injuries and deaths every year. Gun owners who contribute to the accidents through their negligence can be held liable by an accident lawyer.