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Gun Negligence and Wrongful Death Claims

| Category: Wrongful Death | May 24, 2022

Whether you agree or disagree, the Second Amendment protects citizens’ right to own a firearm. And while most gun owners are very careful when it comes to the responsible use and storage of their firearms, hundreds of people are tragically killed each year in accidental shootings. While nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, you and your family may be entitled to compensation if your loved one was killed in a negligence-related shooting. In that case, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you get fair compensation for your loss. 

Examples of Accidental Shootings That May Give Rise to a Wrongful Death Claim

In order to pursue a wrongful death claim, you will need to prove that some other party’s negligence was an immediate cause of the shooting. Some common examples of gun negligence that can lead to a wrongful death claim include the following: 

  • Handling a gun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Hunting accidents
  • Failing to keep a gun properly secured and locked
  • Playing with a gun knowing that it was likely loaded

Guns can be incredibly dangerous when not handled properly. In general, any failure to take due care to ensure that the gun isn’t loaded or that someone will not be harmed in the event of an accidental discharge could be considered negligence. An experienced Waldorf wrongful death lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a claim. 

Who May Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim Caused by an Accidental Shooting

Unfortunately, Maryland law limits who may pursue a wrongful death claim in any type of accident. Generally speaking, only immediate members of the victim’s family can bring suit. In the context of an accidental shooting, wrongful death claims are typically pursued by the following parties: 

  • The parents of a child who was killed in an accidental shooting
  • The spouse of a victim of an accidental shooting
  • The parents of an adult who has no surviving spouse or children

That said, the statutes governing who may pursue a wrongful death suit can be complex. If you have lost a loved one in an accidental shooting, a Waldorf wrongful death lawyer can determine whether you have a claim. 

Who May Be Held Accountable for an Accidental Shooting

In order to pursue a wrongful death claim, you must prove that some other party was negligent. This can include parties that aren’t always obvious, such as the following: 

  • The person who fired the gun if they were negligent in handling the firearm. For example, they may be held liable if they failed to check that the gun was loaded, turned the safety off, or was playing with the gun without regard for the safety of others. 
  • The gun owner if they failed to adequately secure the gun or entrusted the gun to someone that they should have reasonably known would handle it carelessly. A gun owner could be held liable for an accidental shooting if they gave the gun to someone who was obviously intoxicated. Alternatively, they may be held liable if they did not keep the gun in a locked safe. 
  • The property owner where the shooting occurred if they were aware of the danger and failed to take precautions such as providing adequate security. 
  • The gun manufacturer if the shooting was the result of a defective firearm. 

Liability will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting. If you have lost a loved one in an accidental shooting, the best thing you can do is discuss your case with an experienced attorney. 

What Gun Owners Can Do

No gun owner wants to bear the burden of accidental death. Here are some steps you can take to prevent accidental shootings:

  • Always keep your firearms locked and unloaded
  • Never allow someone to use your gun without appropriate supervision
  • Always practice safe handling and gun safety
  • Store your ammunition separately from your firearms

If you do find yourself being accused of being even partly responsible for an accidental shooting, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. For one, they can defend you against any civil liability. The other reason is that you may also soon face criminal charges, which can carry very serious consequences. 

Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

Accidental shootings can be extraordinarily difficult cases that pose numerous challenges. If you have lost a loved one due to gun negligence, Waldorf wrongful death lawyer Thomas E. Pyles provides compassionate representation dedicated to holding the responsible party accountable. To discuss your case with someone who understands, contact us today at 301-705-5006 to schedule a free consultation. We can meet with you at our Waldorf office or at our Leonardtown or Laurel locations.