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Gun Accidents and Injuries During Hunting Season

As Florida opened up its first bear hunting season in over 20 years the weekend of October 24th, hunters were out in the field with bows, crossbows, revolvers, and muzzleloaders, looking to shoot the animals. Given the number of hunting accidents that have taken place in the country—some of them killing people, including children, who were mistaken as the targeted animal in some instances—people should be careful around the hunting areas and watch out for being injured, particularly as this hunting season continues.

Although a little over 200 bears were killed in the state on the first day, hunting is expected to continue statewide until the quotas set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are reached for each specific area (or until a total of 320 bears are killed). However, hunters are not required to wear fluorescent vests which would allow them to be better identified by other hunters and avoid being shot.

Duty to Identify Your Target

While each incident of a person being shot by a hunter is arguably a “mistake,” investigators have also uncovered some disturbing patterns with these accidents. Specifically, the failure to first correctly identify the target before shooting has been relevant in each instance, and this basic tenant is required by many state laws and/or hunting courses and organizations, including those in Florida. In other words, hunters need to positively identify their targets before pulling the trigger; and not only is this required, but it is cited as a basic tenant of firearm ownership and arms-control laws. It’s even a part of the licensing test you must pass before you can own a gun. Investigators have likened failure to identify your target before pulling the trigger to “forgetting to stop at a red light while you are driving.”

Liability

So what does this mean in terms of injured and/or killed victims, and compensation? Can anyone else (other than the shooter) be held liable for the accident, such as whoever was in charge of any hunting courses taken? And what if the hunter has been drinking while he is out hunting? If that is the case, the shooter can be held liable both under civil charges (for negligence, wrongful death, etc.) and criminal charges.

A hunter’s gun accidentally going off is different than the hunter purposely aiming at a target, believing it to be an animal, when it is actually a human, and affirmatively shooting that gun at the human, harming and/or killing them. When the hunter affirmatively shoots at a person, even if they did not realize it was a person, they can be held liable for negligence. In a personal injury claim against the hunter, the injured could obtain damages for medical costs, lost wages, and any pain and suffering associated with the incident.

Contact an Experienced Clearwater Wrongful Death Attorney

Personal injury (and wrongful death cases) can be extremely difficult, particularly if you or a loved one is unexpectedly injured or killed without even engaging in any risky behavior. Clearwater attorney Mike Walker is experienced in these areas and understands how to provide you with representation. Contact the office today for a free consultation.

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