Stray Bullet Injuries: Commonality & Who Is Liable?

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Though gun injuries are a common topic, most people don’t consider how often stray bullets cause injuries. These incidents aren’t always from police discharging their weapon or criminals engaged in illegal activities. Often, stray bullet injuries happen during the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, or during other kinds of celebrations. The truth is, when someone discharges a weapon, injuries to others are always a risk.

Are Stray Bullet Injuries Common in Florida?

Unfortunately, stray bullet injuries are becoming more common. Stray bullet injuries can happen when:

  • People celebrating at a wedding or special event fire a gun straight up into the air.
  • Someone discharges a gun into a crowd, not meaning to hit anyone in particular.
  • Someone tries to shoot someone or something else and misses the target.

Stray bullets kill innocents every year. Close to 1,300 children die every year from accidental gunshots. The majority of those injuries seem to be boys, older children, and minorities. The rates are higher in the Southern states and some Midwestern states. Younger children tend to die because of family-related accidents. Older children tend to die because of crime and violence. A shooter playing with a gun left out or not properly locked is the number one cause of accidental gun deaths among children.

According to a 2015 study from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, 4.2% of children between the ages of 0 and 17 have witnessed a shooting. The top causes of death in children is accidental injury, and a good majority of these are preventable. School shootings are also on the rise. In some cases, a shooter intentionally brings a gun to school, while in others, kids find a gun at their home, hide it in their backpack and it accidentally goes off and shoots a classmate. Either situation usually ends in one or more accidental gunshot injuries.

Who Is Liable After a Stray Bullet Injury?

Liability for a stray bullet injury could belong to any number of parties. The person who fired the gun is probably the first one to examine for liability. Depending on the reason for the shot fired, they could be accountable for any related injuries. If it was an accident and the shot was at a specific target, liability is less than if someone shot into a crowd of people on purpose.

If someone hosting a party knows that guests are likely to fire weapons, they should take every precaution to ensure that no accidents occur. If there are no safety precautions, or the wrong precautions, the property owner could be liable for the injuries. If a security team checks for weapons or protects an event and injuries occur, the company or the security guard could be liable.

A stray bullet can cause any number of injuries. Accidental death can occur from any gunshot wound. Surgery, rehabilitation, and lifelong disabilities can also occur, costing thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars in medical bills. This is a huge expense to incur, especially if a loved one is permanently disabled and requires 24/7 care.

Who to Talk to About a Stray Bullet Injury

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a stray bullet, be sure to maintain all records of your medical treatment and any physical therapy or prescriptions that were necessary because of it. In some cases, you won’t know who fired the bullet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know who was negligent. Take photos of any injuries sustained and obtain a copy of the doctor’s reports as evidence, and discuss your case with a personal injury attorney for more specifics about who might be responsible.