Shooting Death & Injury Lawyers

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Liability For Murders & Accidental Shootings

Shooting deaths and injuries are very common in large cities like Philadelphia. Each year, there are nearly 400 shooting deaths in Philadelphia, or roughly 1 per day. The vast majority of these shooting deaths are homicides or murders. A small number of shooting deaths are accidental (roughly 1 or 2 per year).

In addition, Philadelphia leads the nation in the total number of shooting deaths per year. The city also leads the nation in the annual number of shooting deaths of children under the age of 10.

In many cases, surviving family members are often unaware of their civil legal rights to receive compensation. Oftentimes, other parties can be held liable for negligence which led to the shooting, and in many cases, the ultimate source of financial compensation will be an insurance policy, such as a commercial insurance policy or a homeowners’ insurance policy.

Related: Shootings & Assaults – Victims’ Rights to Restitution in PA and NJ [March 22, 2017, Learn about restitution laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. These laws apply in criminal cases and authorize a court to order the criminal perpetrator to pay restitution to the victim for financial losses.]

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Parties Liable For Shooting Deaths

The hallmark of a negligence lawsuit is foreseeability—was it reasonable for the defendant to have foreseen the injury? A defendant who could have or should have foreseen the injury (shooting) can be held liable. The following two examples discuss the concept of foreseeability in the context of two shooting deaths.

Example 1 – Criminal Homicide/Murder & Liability

A Philadelphia resident is robbed, shot and killed after exiting his car in the parking lot of his apartment complex. The shooting occurs in a dark and isolated area of the parking lot. The perpetrator has been robbing individuals in the apartment complex. In the 3 month period prior to the shooting death, there were numerous robberies.

Here, the landlord may be held liable if there is sufficient evidence that the landlord could have or should have foreseen the shooting. Evidence of prior knowledge of the robberies vis-à-vis complaints, police reports, etc., will be helpful in proving the case. Ultimately, the landlord may be liable for failing to implement security measures like installing cameras, hiring security guards or warning tenants.

Most large apartment complexes in Philadelphia have commercial insurance policies which cover acts of negligence by employees of the apartment complex. If there is evidence that the landlord is negligent, then the insurance policy would apply. This means that the victim’s family may be able to obtain financial compensation for the death of their loved one.

It’s important to note that other parties are often liable for shooting deaths, such as bars, restaurants, malls, etc. Any public establishment can be held liable for a shooting death. Again, the key is proving negligence and foreseeability.

Example 2 – Accidental Shooting & Liability

A young child is playing at her friend’s home next door. The friend’s father accidentally leaves a loaded gun within reach. The young child is killed when her friend picks up her father’s gun and fires it.

Here, the father would be liable because he left a loaded gun within reach of young children. The act in and of itself is negligent. It is certainly foreseeable that a child who handles a loaded weapon could seriously injure or kill another person. The family of the young child would have a wrongful death action against the next door neighbor (father).

If the neighbor’s home is covered under a homeowners’ insurance policy or a renters’ insurance policy, the family of the deceased child may be able to obtain financial recovery under the policy. Residential insurance policies would apply to situations where an accidental shooting occurred on the property.

Claims For Financial Compensation In a Shooting Death/Murder Case

Under the laws of PA and NJ, individuals injured in accidental or intentional shootings may make claims for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages. In the event of death, surviving family members often have legal rights to compensation for financial losses caused by the death of their loved ones.

Our Victim Injury Lawyers Act In The Best Interests Of Clients

Our victim injury lawyers focus on sexual abuse, homicide and other crime injury cases and always seek to obtain the best results for clients. Call for a free consultation. (800) 220-7600

More from the Negligent Security Law Library:

Shooting victims often require strong legal representation due to concurrent criminal proceedings. Our team includes multiple former criminal prosecutors. We understand these cases, and we understand your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

In some cases, a third party, such as a property owner or event organizer, can be held liable for injuries or death resulting from a shooting if they failed to provide adequate security measures or were otherwise negligent in protecting those on their premises. Establishing liability in these cases typically involves demonstrating that the third party knew or should have known about potential risks and failed to take reasonable precautions to protect individuals from harm.

Shooting incidents that may involve third-party negligence can occur in various settings, such as:

  • Bars, nightclubs, or entertainment venues with inadequate security or crowd control measures
  • Shopping centers or malls with insufficient surveillance or security personnel
  • Apartment complexes or residential properties with poor lighting, malfunctioning security systems, or a lack of security staff
  • Schools, colleges, or other educational institutions with insufficient security protocols or training
  • Concerts, festivals, or public events with inadequate security planning or emergency response procedures.

Victims of shooting incidents involving third-party negligence may be eligible to recover various types of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses: Compensation for past and future medical treatment related to injuries sustained during the shooting
  • Lost wages: Reimbursement for income lost due to the victim’s inability to work after the incident, as well as compensation for any reduction in earning capacity if the injuries impact their ability to work in the future
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and discomfort caused by the victim’s injuries
  • Emotional distress: Damages for the psychological and emotional impact of the incident on the victim, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: Compensation for the ways in which the incident has negatively affected the victim’s ability to enjoy their life
  • Wrongful death: If the victim died as a result of the shooting, their family members may be eligible to recover damages for funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, and emotional suffering.

The experienced attorneys at Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan have extensive knowledge of the legal issues surrounding shooting injury and death cases involving third-party negligence. Our team can help you:

  • Evaluate your case and determine if you have a valid claim against the third party for their negligence
  • Investigate the circumstances of the shooting and gather evidence to establish the third party’s liability
  • Negotiate with the third party’s insurance company to seek a fair settlement on your behalf
  • Represent you in court, if necessary, to pursue the maximum compensation available under the law

With a national presence and a team of dedicated attorneys, Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan is prepared to advocate for your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your shooting injury or death case.