Accidental Gun Discharges by Toddlers in the Home: An Often-Overlooked National Tragedy

Accidental Gun DischargesWith the mass shootings and gun violence that have taken place in the United States recently in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, gun safety is very much on the minds of most people, whatever your political persuasion. However, an often overlooked issue when it comes to the topic of gun violence is the tragic, and unfortunately fairly regular occurrence, of the accidental discharge of firearms in the homes, often by toddlers or children. These occur at the rate of almost one every other day and represent a senseless and devastating loss that could be avoided simply by taking the proper measures to secure a firearm by the gun’s owner. Many times, these tragedies are preventable and are caused by the negligence or carelessness of a homeowner in securing his or her firearm, particularly where an incident occurs inside a home. In such cases, the gun owner is not only violating Florida law, but also renders him or herself liable to a negligence lawsuit in the event someone is hurt due to the gun owner’s not adequately storing or securing his or her firearm.

Toddlers and Guns: A Commonly Lethal Combination

According to a comprehensive April 2016 report from Time magazine on the topic of toddlers and guns, 77 children accidentally shot themselves in the first four months of 2016. According to an October 2016 article in USA Today, a child dies nearly every other day from the accidental discharge of a firearm. In addition, according to the USA Today statistics, children/toddlers aged 3 were the most likely to be killed as a result of an accidental firearm discharge. Finally, according to another report from October 2015 from the Washington Post newspaper, 13 toddlers age 3 or younger accidentally killed themselves with a gun, 18 injured themselves, 10 injured others, and two killed other people through October 2015 in 24 different states. Most of the incidents involved unsecured handguns found by toddlers in purses and closets and underneath car seats. In addition, the Post reporters also found that the majority of accidental gun discharges involved boys. As can be seen by the startling statistics reflected in these articles, the accidental discharge of guns by toddlers and children is a national epidemic that shows no signs of abating.

Florida Law Requiring a Homeowner to Adequately Secure All Firearms

As reflected in the articles above, many instances of accidental discharges of firearms by toddlers and children are caused by carelessness or negligence of a gun owner in storing his or her firearms. Under Florida law, firearm owners have a duty to ensure the safe storage of their weapons. Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 790.174, “A person who stores or leaves, on a premise under his or her control, a loaded firearm and who knows or reasonably should know that a minor is likely to gain access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parent or the person having charge of the minor, or without the supervision required by law, shall keep the firearm in a securely locked box or container or in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure or shall secure it with a trigger lock.”

If a gun owner does not take reasonable steps to secure his or her firearms as required by this statute, then the gun owner can be convicted of a second degree misdemeanor. In addition, if the firearm were to accidentally discharge or kill someone due to the gun owner’s negligence in not adequately securing or storing his or her weapon, then the gun owner could also be sued by the victim of that negligence for his or her injuries. For example, if two toddlers were playing, one found a gun inadequately secured by his parents and the gun went off, injuring the other toddler, then the injured toddler’s own parents would be able to bring a lawsuit against the gun’s owner based on their toddler’s injuries. On behalf of their toddler, the parents would be able to recover any medical bills incurred as a result of those injuries, the child’s pain and suffering and any other losses caused by their toddler’s injuries. In addition, depending on the seriousness of the toddler’s injuries, the parents themselves may also have a claim against the gun owner for improperly storing and securing the firearm.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed Adams Sobel & McGinley if You or Your Child Has Been Injured as a Result of Someone Else’s Negligence

At Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley, our experienced personal injury and premises liability attorneys regularly represent clients who have been injured in premises liability cases. This includes more conventional injuries like if you visit someone else’s home and are attacked by their dog, but we also represent the victims of accidental gun discharges due to a gun owner’s negligence in not adequately storing or securing a loaded firearm. Whether a homeowner did not take adequate measures to secure a firearm and you or your child was injured as a result of the homeowner’s negligence, our attorneys can assist you in obtaining all compensation for your injuries that you are entitled to under Florida law. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have been practicing for more than 150 years combined. Therefore, contact us today at (877) 694-6079 or email us at contact@schwedlawfirm.com if you, your child or a family member has been injured as a result of a gun owner’s failure to store and/or secure a firearm in a safe manner.

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