Do you need a Defense Attorney for an Accidental Shooting?
Both Georgia and South Carolina have gun laws that, for all practical purposes, allow almost anyone to own a firearm and to use their weapons if confronted with a perceived risk of physical harm to themselves or to a bystander who appears to be in physical danger. Although not stated in the gun laws of both states, the owner of a firearm also has certain responsibilities or “duties” to others when it comes to gun safety.
As an example of such duties, a gun owner must keep a weapon beyond the reach of children who may not recognize the potential danger the gun poses to themselves or to others. If a child has easy access to a gun of any type and accidentally fires it causing an injury, the gun owner has been negligent and can be sued by the accident victim to recover damages. Another example of the duty to others would be a hunting accident involving a “long gun” such as a rifle.
A hunter has the responsibility to clearly identify his target before firing. If a hunter “thinks’ that he sees a deer and fires, but instead of a deer it is another hunter, the first hunter is negligent in his actions and can be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit if the other hunter dies. A more complex legal issue occurs when the deliberate use of a firearm for self-defense.
Both Georgia and South Carolina have what has come to be known as “stand your ground” laws governing the use of a firearm in “self-defense”. In the past, the prosecutors and defense attorneys of both states would hold that an armed person must retreat from a threat until there was no other available option but to fire on his assailant. Under the stand your ground doctrine, there is no requirement requiring a retreat before firing and that self-defense is a valid counterargument against a criminal charge of manslaughter.
The problem with the stand your ground doctrine is that there is no clear definition of what constitutes a threat sufficient to justify the use of deadly force in self-defense. In criminal prosecutions, the benefit of doubt usually goes to the shooter unless there is clear evidence that the threat was avoidable or did not pose a “clear and present danger” to the shooter.
Civil matters involving firearms can be quite complicated, particularly when a wrongful death lawsuit is filed against a law enforcement officer who may have been firing for a legitimate reason such as to protect others. In these cases, a criminal defense attorney can be of assistance in helping to evaluate the available evidence to determine if there are legitimate grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Shooting accidents need not result in a death in order to file a personal injury lawsuit. The law has always held that the negligent party is liable for the consequences of his actions. In these cases, the advice of an attorney is essential in determining the merits of a potential lawsuit.
If you are considering a lawsuit against the person or persons that you hold responsible for the shooting injury or death of a family member, you should contact a personal injury attorney to arrange a consultation regarding the facts surrounding your loved one’s death. It does not matter if the shooter was taken to court on a criminal charge because wrongful death lawsuits are a civil matter and a verdict of guilty or innocent in criminal court has no bearing in a civil lawsuit.
As always, we are ready to help you seek justice for yourself and your family. Tate Law Group can provide you with an experienced defense attorney, ready to hear your story and help if possible.