Shot in a Donut Shop: Suing for Negligence After a Firearms Accident

For many people, the day doesn’t really start until they have had their morning coffee. Usually, the worst thing that happens while trying to get a caffeine fix is that the line at the coffee shop is too long. For one South Florida woman, her morning coffee stop ended in a trip to the hospital after she was accidentally shot by another patron’s firearm.

When a gun owner fails to follow proper gun safety protocols, he or she can be liable for any injuries that occur. If you have been injured by an act of negligence, a Miami personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.

Gun Owner Negligence Can Lead to Civil Lawsuits

Earlier this month, a man was arrested in Coconut Creek after his gun accidentally shot a woman waiting in line at Dunkin’ Donuts. Witnesses say that the man’s weapon fell out of his clothing and hit the floor, causing the gun to discharge. Luckily, the woman who was struck by the bullet suffered only minor injuries and was released from the hospital a few hours later.

Though the 38-year-old man had a valid concealed carry permit for the weapon, he fled the scene after the accident. Police issued an all-points bulletin for his arrest, and he eventually turned himself in to the authorities later that night.

Is it Negligence, a Crime, or Both?

Not every person who causes an injury—even with a gun—is guilty of committing a criminal act. Lawmakers know that sometimes accidents happen, and unless a person intends to cause an injury, he or she will usually not be charged with a crime.

Just because a person’s actions are not criminal, however, that does not mean that he or she cannot be held responsible for his or her actions. The civil court system recognizes that people have a duty of care toward one another. If a person carelessly or recklessly does something that harms someone else, that person can be sued in civil court for negligence and may be ordered to pay damages to the injured person.

In Florida, truly accidental shootings are often not considered criminal actions. In most cases, a gun owner is usually only charged with a crime when his or her actions rise to the level of “culpable negligence.” Culpable negligence means that an action shows extreme or reckless disregard for human life. For example, pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger is an extraordinarily careless action, even if the person holding the gun believes the weapon is unloaded. In that situation, a person could be charged with the crime of culpable negligence even if there was no actual intent to cause an injury.

Had the Coconut Creek man stayed at the Dunkin’ Donuts and spoken with the authorities, he may not have been charged with a crime. Since he fled the scene, the police may have imputed a criminal motive to his actions. Regardless of whether his criminal charges are dismissed, it is likely that he will still be civilly liable for negligence in causing the woman’s injuries. If a judge or jury finds that the man was careless or reckless in the way that he secured the weapon in his clothing, he may be found negligent and ordered to pay for her medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of damages.

Get Help After an Injury

Even unintentional actions can have serious consequences. If you were injured by someone else’s careless or reckless behavior, you may be able to recover compensation for your pain. At Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., our experienced Miami catastrophic injury lawyer will help you hold negligent people responsible for actions that cause harm. To schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options, contact our office today by calling (877) 475-2905 today.


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