With the last post being about firearms insurance, it only seems right to discuss who is considered liable in accidental shootings today. After all, not all tragic headlines start with ill intentions on the part of the shooter. All too often, young children get their hands on parents’ guns or adults make poor choices that result in misfire and accidental shooting.
We then read the tragic circumstances in Saint Petersburg headlines. Obviously, if an adult unintentionally shoots another person, the shooter is at fault. However, if a child does the same, the negligence is harder to assign. Many automatically assume that the child’s parents are to blame after the accident.
Yet, a five-year-old might not understand the situation well enough to aim and shoot a gun intentionally and should the parents then face financial ruin as a result? In some states, it is clear that the parents are to blame for the actions of their minor children (this is referred to as “vicarious liability”). Other states are not so clear in their rulings. The age of the child will likely be considered. Parents of children under a certain age may not fall into the bracket of vicarious liability. However, a teen that gains access to a gun and does harm to another will likely cause his or her parents a great deal of financial stress. Unfortunately, that is the least of what they will suffer. Supervisory negligence is failing to properly watch out for the child, and that can also come into play. This is considered to be the case if the St. Petersburg parent should have been in control of the child or should have taken a stronger action to control the child in the given scenario. After all, if the gun had been properly stored, the child wouldn’t have been able to access it and the whole situation could have been avoided. A personal injury attorney must provide evidence that the parents did not do enough to prevent the accident.