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June 25th, 2015

Lawsuits for Accidental Shootings in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Common Legal Claims

Accidental shooting deaths in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are very common. For instance, a child may get access to a loaded gun and accidentally shoot another child, or a bystander may be shot by a stray bullet. Naturally, victims of accidental shootings often suffer grave injuries, and many injuries are fatal.

Civil & Criminal Legal Rights

Victims of accidental shootings and their family members are often misinformed about their legal rights to financial compensation. Many believe that their only legal recourse is via the criminal justice system which generally limits financial compensation to judgements for restitution of medical bills and related expenses. This is only partially true. Victims of accidental shootings in Philadelphia are often able to file civil lawsuits against multiple parties, including the criminal perpetrator (shooter). This is in addition to any criminal case.

Related: Pennsylvania Injury Lawsuits – Criminal Assaults & Shootings in Public Places (Malls, Shopping Centers & Stores)

Claims in a Civil Lawsuit for an Accidental Shooting

In a civil lawsuit for an accidental shooting, claims against the shooter vary and depend on the circumstances. For example, in a case where a gun owner mishandles a gun and accidentally shoots a friend or bystander, the basis of the claim would be negligence. Under Pennsylvania law, negligence is usually defined as doing something you shouldn’t be doing or failing to do something you should. Mishandling a gun certainly qualifies as doing something you shouldn’t be doing.

Some cases are much more complex and may involve parties other than the shooter. For instance, a child gets access to his parent’s gun and fires it at his friend who is killed as a result. Is the parent liable? Probably, under Pennsylvania law. The child’s parents would have a valid claim against the other child’s parent for negligence or negligent supervision.

In addition, retailers of guns in this state may be liable for negligent conduct in selling a firearm. Currently, Pennsylvania law does not require a permit or license to purchase a gun. However, gun retailers are required to perform minimal background checks. Mix ups can and do occur. For instance, a gun retailer makes a mistake in following state laws regarding conducting proper background checks. The retailer mixes up names and mistakenly gets approval from the state’s instant check system. As a result, an individual is able to obtain a gun and later kills someone. The victim’s family may have a valid wrongful death action against the gun retailer for negligence in the verification process.

More: Homeowners’ Insurance May Provide Coverage for Victims of Assaults, Sexual Assaults & Shootings

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