Guns, Ammo, and Injury Law

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hunting accident or firearm accident, depending on the circumstances of the incident, you may have legal recourse. Usually, in circumstances involving a shooting, the incident results from the fault of the gun’s handler or the fault of the gun manufacturer or a combination of both. In circumstances involving a gun explosion, gun failure, or gun barrel rupture, the incident results from the fault of the ammunition manufacturer, the gun manufacturer, the gun handler, or a combination of them. Each state has its own laws that govern who is at fault.  This area of law is typically called “Tort” law.  Although each state law is different, there are general principles that usually apply.

When a court or jury determines whether an individual is at fault in a gun injury accident, it will usually make a determination of whether the handler was negligent or otherwise deviated from the standard of care expected of someone in similar circumstances.  

The law that applies to whether a product (ammunition or firearm) is defective is usually called “Product Liability” Law.  Although each state’s law is different, under general product liability principles and theory, there are typically three main ways a gun or ammunition manufacturer can be held liable for a firearm injury.

First, a manufacturer can be held liable if the gun was unreasonably dangerous and defective in design.  Some examples of guns that may be defective in design would be those that can be fired without a trigger pull, such as when dropped or bumped (sometimes called “drop fires”).  Others would be when the gun’s design specifications did not call for a metal that was strong enough to withstand the pressures of ordinary, factory-loaded ammunition.  Also, if the gun does not come with a safety, it may be defective in design.

Second, a manufacturer can be held liable if the gun was unreasonably dangerous and defective in the way it was manufactured or put together.  This is often called a manufacturing defect.  An example of this would be a situation where the gun’s manufacturer left out a part or otherwise did not assemble the gun correctly before it left the factory. 

Finally, a manufacturer can be held liable if they did not properly warn foreseeable users about the dangers that the gun possessed.  For example, some guns can still be fired when the gun’s clip is removed, whereas others have safety devices that don’t.  Some gun handlers believe that if the clip is removed, then the gun will not fire.  Gun manufacturers that do not incorporate this “magazine safety” should warn their customers of this danger.  

As mentioned above, often a firearm incident results from the combination of fault of the gun’s handler and the manufacturer. In such circumstances, many states have laws that allow the court or jury to assign percentages of fault between them in order  to determine who should be held accountable for the firearm injury.  

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