Guns and weapon rights has become a contentious issue in this country.
What we can say is this: From 2007 to 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 7,000 children died as a result of gunshot wounds. That’s an average of nearly 4 child deaths every single day in the U.S. There were also 8,700 gun-related child injuries during that time, averaging about 5 a day.
At The Law Offices of Richard Ansara, our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys know these instances cover a wide range of circumstances, including accidental shootings, homicides and suicides. The question of whether victims and families can recoup costs for cumbersome medical expenses and more depends on the specifics of each case. Our experienced legal team would want to analyze the exact circumstances of the case to determine whether:
- An individual or multiple individuals was negligent;
- That negligence caused the victim’s injury or death;
- There is insurance or some other assets that might be pursued for adequate compensation.
Often, we find these cases are as much about accountability as anything else. Civil litigation can be filed regardless of whether criminal charges are applicable, and the two processes are entirely independent of each other.Child Gun Death Statistics
Firearm injuries are the second-leading cause of death among American children.
However, given the controversial nature of the debate over gun violence and firearm rights, statistics from various sources have been hotly disputed. Plus, many states do not make death certificates public record, so ascertaining an accurate count is difficult.
Part of the problem is the way child firearm deaths are counted. A 2013 in-depth analysis by The New York Times revealed accidental shootings may have occurred twice as often as official records indicated due to classification differences among regions. For example, some medical examiners refer to child gun deaths as “accidents” while others categorize them as “homicides” – regardless of whether there is an actual intent to kill.
A 2014 study published in the journal Pediatrics indicated there were 7,391 hospitalizations for child firearm injuries in 2009, which averages about 20 a day. However, that figure included 18- and 19-year-olds as “children.” About 6 percent died from their injuries.
When the Times reporters were able to obtain death records from medical examiners in five states, they found the official count of accidental gun deaths of victims under 15 was 50 percent lower than the real figures.
The Pediatrics study indicated the most common child firearm injuries were:
- Open wounds (52 percent)
- Fractures (50 percent)
- Internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen or pelvis (34 percent)
Nearly 9 in 10 hospitalizations for gun injuries were males, with rates being highest for black males.Parental Liability for Gun Injuries
Florida is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia that hold adults criminally liable for failure to store guns safely, resulting in minors having access. Massachusetts is the only state that mandates all firearms be stored with locking devices to prevent accidental discharge.
F.S. 790.174, Safe Storage of Firearms Required, states that a person who stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a place and manner he or she knows or reasonably should know a minor (someone under age 16) is likely to gain access to without lawful permission from minor’s parents commits a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
Although criminal liability does not automatically prove civil negligence, it can be used to help plaintiff establish his or her case.
A study conducted in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service revealed that in school shootings from 1974 to 2000, more than 65 percent of firearms used came from the shooter’s own home or from that of a relative.
Although many homeowners’ insurance policies will not cover damages relating to intentional injuries, it may be possible to pursue damages resulting from shots fired – intentionally or unintentionally – by one minor against another if the gun involved should have been locked up in the first place.Manufacturer Liability
Firearms are exempted from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and have been since the agency’s inception.
Further, gun companies enjoy special legal protections against liability that very few other industries have. Consider the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which stemmed from a slew of lawsuits filed by cities against the gun industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those lawsuits typically alleged “public nuisance” and “negligent marketing.”
Essentially, gun makers can’t be held liable for criminal misuse of a gun that functions properly. But, if there is any evidence the gun was defective and that defect caused or contributed to the injury, it may be grounds for a lawsuit. Similarly, if someone who purchased the gun told the seller he or she intended to use it to commit a crime – and then follows through with it – victim might have a case against the seller.
If your child has been seriously injured or killed due to use of a firearm, contact our team to learn more about your legal options.