The majority of personal injury lawsuits involve negligence, as opposed to any type of intentional conduct. This is not always the case, though, as serious injuries are sometimes the result of an assault. In these cases, including those involving guns or other weapons, the party committing the crime may be headed behind bars. For obvious reasons, they are unlikely to be able to satisfy a money judgment for damages. It is important to look to whether some other party may be responsible. While only applicable in a small portion of situations, the theory of “negligent entrustment” may be able assist you in recovering fair compensation. To discuss an accidental shooting or an assault with a gun where you have been injured, call the Raleigh personal injury attorneys of Maginnis Howard at (919) 526-0450 or send a confidential email using our contact page.
Negligent entrustment is most commonly used in the context of drunken driving cases. The classic example involves a defendant who has entrusted his vehicle to someone who he knows to be heavily intoxicated. The driver then causes a devastating car accident. In this situation, the injured party may file a negligence suit against the operator, as well as, a negligent entrustment suit against the owner.
It is also possible to use a negligent entrustment theory against the owner of a gun following an assault or accidental shooting. The issue was recently addressed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Bridges v. Parrish. The defendants’ son used their gun to shoot his longtime girlfriend Bridges, and she sustained serious personal injuries. She consequently sued the parents under multiple theories, including negligent entrustment. The Court ultimately dismissed the case against the parents, in part, because Bridges had not shown that the parents had actually entrusted the gun to their son. It was unclear how he came into possession of the gun.
A review of the Bridges case allows a better understanding of when a negligent entrustment claim will be valid. It appears that not only does the owner of the gun have to give consent to its possession but also consent to its use. This would likely be easier in an accidental shooting case. If two drunken buddies are shooting a gun near a public lake and the non-owner accidentally shoots a fisherman, the owner would likely be liable. The more difficult question is the assault case, e.g. the non-owner intentionally shoots the fisherman. The Bridges case seems to leave open the possibility that the owner could be liable for this conduct.
If you have been injured as a result of an assault with a gun or an accidental shooting, contact the Raleigh personal injury lawyers of Maginnis Howard at (919) 526-0450 or send an email inquiry using our contact page. Our firm regularly represents folks throughout eastern North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Apex, Garner, Greenville, Fayetteville, and the surrounding areas. All consultations with our civil attorneys are offered free of charge, and all personal injury cases handled on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover damages on your behalf.