You’ve heard the stories on the news. Too often, reporters appear on your television describing the accidental injury or death of an innocent bystander as a result of the careless or reckless use of a firearm. No one is ever the same after a gun accident. Not only are there physical injuries, but the emotional scars etched onto a person never leave. Families are often left to deal with the fallout of an accident they did not cause.
Many believe that if the shooter did not intend to cause the injury, the victim and the victim’s family are not entitled to compensation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Someone is still liable even if the shooting was accidental. This may be the shooter, or this may be the owner of the property on which the shooting occurred, especially if the guns were not safely stored. If you or a family member have been injured or affected by an accidental shooting in Colorado, you may be entitled to compensation.
In Colorado, there are a few common ways that accidental shootings tend to happen. A few of them include:
When a person is cleaning a firearm in a condo, apartment, or home, and the gun discharges.
When a person is shooting a gun into the air in celebration with no regard for adjacent persons or property.
When a person is shooting a gun with the intent to scare or intimidate someone, whether firing in their general direction or not.
When a person pulls the trigger of a gun for any reason other than its intended purpose, including attempting to pick up a gun and accidentally pulling the trigger, or dropping the gun causing a misfire.
Any of these examples would be considered negligent or reckless use of a firearm. Even mechanical malfunctions of the gun can be considered negligent because the owner did not maintain the firearm in good working condition.
In 2019, 34% of Coloradans own a gun. Out of a population of 5.7 million people, assuming one gun per owner, this means there are at least 1.9 million guns in the state at any given time. While we do not have the statistics, we can assume the number of guns in Colorado is at least slightly higher than this. Those who own a gun usually own more than one. Among gun owners, 74% possess two or more firearms.
Unintentional shootings comprise 18% of all gun related injuries. Unfortunately, many accidental shooting deaths involve people under 24. The easy access to firearms in many homes significantly increases the risk of injury by gunshot.
In the United States, 4.6 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms. Most of these children know where their parents keep guns. As much as we would like to believe children are safe around guns, accidents involving children are not rare.
From 2008 to 2017, there were 342,439 firearm-related deaths in the US. These stats become even more sobering when you realize that there were another 870,000 non-fatal firearm injures. In 2016, 161,000 deaths in the U.S. were from unintentional gunfire. This was the 3rd highest cause of death that year.
Gun safety is an important issue that affects all of us. In Colorado particularly, with such high gun ownership, it is important to treat gun safety as such. Even if unintentional, the discharge of a firearm should not be dealt with lightly, especially if it resulted in injury.
There are several claims a person can make as a result of injuries sustained as a result of an accidental shooting.
The first important consideration is whether the use of the firearm resulted in fatal or non-fatal injuries. If the injuries were non-fatal, then an injured party can bring a claim for personal injury. If the injuries were fatal, resulting in death, certain family members of the victim can bring a claim for wrongful death.
Other circumstances are also essential considerations. Frequently a claim against the shooter for negligence, often accompanied by a request for punitive damages, will be appropriate. Additionally, if the weapons were stored in an unsafe manner, a claim for premises liability may be brought against the owner of the property on which the shooting occurred.
Even if no one was charged with a crime, another person’s behavior may have caused a loss for you - even if just emotional distress. You may be entitled to compensation and should consult with an attorney to determine what you are entitled to and what your next steps are.
At the end of the day, a shooting is a serious matter, even if no one is hurt and no property is damaged. Individuals must be held responsible for their firearms and must be deterred from being negligent or reckless in the future.
If you or a loved one has been injured or affected by an accidental shooting in Colorado, knowing what to do next in order to seek compensation can be confusing, frightening, and frustrating. Working with an attorney will help you to take the right steps necessary to get the compensation you deserve.
Specifically, working with an attorney in your case is important because:
Each state has different and unique gun laws. Colorado is no different. Finding an attorney that has a high level of experience with Colorado gun laws is necessary to getting the compensation you deserve. You need someone who has been successful with accidental shooting cases that have resulted in injury and death.
Attorneys know how defendants think and understand the loopholes many gun owners use to protect themselves from providing compensation to you. This allows us to work quickly, so you are not waiting for months and years for money to pay medical bills or further treatment. Without the help from an attorney, you may not be able to maximize compensation.
Claims have statutes of limitations, or deadlines by which either a settlement has been reached or a lawsuit has been filed. For example, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. This may sound like a long time, but paperwork can take ages, and you may be stuck playing the waiting game while dealing with injuries, the death of a loved one, or just everyday life. Waiting for the other party will only delay your compensation or may keep you from receiving anything. Working with an attorney gets the case started immediately and allows you to ensure that no matter how long the case takes, you remain eligible for compensation.
Being injured or losing a loved due to the careless use of a firearm can be painful. Nothing can replace the life of someone we care for, and nothing can replace health once irrevocably lost. All too often, accidental shootings leave victims and families living with injuries and trauma. Being disabled as a result of firearm injury or scarred from the event can create a lifetime of struggle.
No one should have to face this alone or without proper legal representation. If you have been affected by an accidental shooting in Colorado, you deserve compensation and should settle for nothing less than the best legal team to represent you.
At Anderson Hemmat, we have over 25 years of experience helping victims of gun violence, accidental shootings, and gun related injuries seek justice and compensation for their losses. Our team of experienced Colorado Attorneys have the skills and resources to help you get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
Don’t fight through this alone. You deserve the best legal help, along with a team that has empathy and understanding for the trauma you have endured and continue to endure.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accidental shooting in Colorado, you should seek legal help immediately. Contact us today to speak with one of our Accidental Shooting Attorneys in a free case evaluation that will help you learn more about your case, figure out your next steps, and get the legal representation you deserve to pursue the compensation you need.
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