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Stray Bullet Injury Statistics: Who Is Liable? Do I Need an Attorney?

Posted September 18, 2018 | Personal Injury Blog

Bullet wounds can be serious injuries, leading both to significant life changes and even death. If someone shoots another person in an act of aggravated assault, it’s obvious who’s liable for the injury. However, many gun injuries and deaths are the result of stray bullets.

In 2016, there were 489 unintentional shooting deaths, according to GunPolicy.org. A 2012 study of 501 shooting events indicated that over half of those incidents involved a stray bullet and injury of some sort, with over 20% of the victims’ injuries resulting in death.

Frighteningly, one of the most concerning factors is that more than 80% of the victims of stray bullets had no knowledge of the events that led to the shooting and were otherwise uninvolved in the incident. These victims usually meet the qualification of damages suffered due to another party’s negligence but receiving compensation can be difficult.

Who Is Liable for a Stray Bullet Injury?

As with most other shooting-related injuries, the liable party is usually the individual who fired the gun in the first place. Gun owners have a duty of care to use their firearms responsibly, and shooting in a manner that puts someone else at risk is a violation of that duty of care. As such, even if the bullet was not intended to hit the victim, the shooter can still be liable for the injury.

Other circumstances can influence identifying who is the liable party. For example, if a gun owner was not the one who fired the gun, but acted negligently in allowing another party to handle the firearm, the owner may be liable.

Gun manufacturers can also be liable for accidental and unintentional shootings if a defective product led to the injury. However, in stray bullet incidents, proving such liability can be difficult, especially with the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which limits how much liability a gun manufacturer can have for acts committed by their customers.

It is difficult to prove liability in stray bullet cases. This problem is made worse because most victims of stray bullets have little knowledge of the circumstances that lead to their injury. Proving liability becomes much more difficult when the victim cannot identify who fired the gun.

Do I Need an Attorney?

It is in your best interest to hire an attorney if you or a loved one has suffered harm or death due to a stray bullet because of this difficulty in determining liability. A thorough investigation is often necessary to correctly identify the shooter and prove liability, and a skilled personal injury or wrongful death attorney will have the resources available to gather the necessary evidence to help your case.

Shooting injuries often require an attorney to help your case achieve the best results. Bullet injuries can have life-altering consequences that go beyond your initial medical bills. You may face lifelong medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney will help you correctly assess your rightful compensation and fight for your rights in court.

A stray bullet incident may involve more than just injury to your person. Depending on the circumstances, stray bullets can also lead to property damage. If your case involves both personal injury and property damage, an attorney will help you navigate all elements of your claim. This assistance can be especially helpful if different parties are responsible for your injuries and damages.

Gun incidents have become more common in America, including stray bullet injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered in such an incident, seek the help of a personal injury attorney to handle your legal issues while you focus on recovery.

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Text edited by Mitchell Fielding, a personal injury lawyer and partner at Fielding Law. Mitchell is known for his hard work ethic, friendly personality and dedication to the law. You can find out personal injury law offices in Taylorsville, UT and Mesquite, TX.