Hunters often suffer serious injuries and even death, even when they are hunting legally and operating safely. The hunting season attracts a wide variety of hunters, from young to old, and it is often a family rite of passage passed down from generation to generation. When a hunter is injured or killed due to the negligence or reckless behavior of another, it is possible to bring a lawsuit for hunting accident.
Statistics show that around a thousand people in the United States and Canada are accidentally shot by hunters each year in a hunting accident. About ten percent, or one hundred accidents, result in death. These figures are constant from year to year in both countries.
Although hunting is a sport and also plays a conservation role, hunters and non-hunters are often inadvertently injured and killed. The most common causes of hunting injuries are:
Unknowingly entering the hunter’s sights
The victim was covered or hidden while the hunter shot the target
The shooter failed to correctly identify the target before firing
Accidental discharge of a firearm or other weapon
Innocent passers-by accidentally shot dead by the hunter
Defective shafts causing falls and serious injury
Most state laws hold a negligent part in a hunting accident responsible for injuries sustained by the victim of hunting injuries. In most hunting accident lawsuits, the victim must prove negligence or gross negligence against the offending hunter. This usually means that the hunter did not act safely or reasonably or was reckless in his use of the firearm.
In addition to direct gunshot wounds, other injuries can lead to prosecution. These include claims against a hunting club or a landowner for injuries due to defects on the property. Also, claims for carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from faulty radiators in a cabin, boat or motorhome.
The settlements in the hunting injury cases include both non-economic and economic damages. Non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, fear and shock, and loss of enjoyment of life. Economic losses include loss of income, medical bills, and other financial-type losses that are documented by the victim.
In the event of a fatal injury, the family of the deceased victim can recover damages for their loss with a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit includes the pain and suffering of the deceased from injuries to death, as well as the loss of society and companionship of surviving family members.
A family member who witnesses a serious injury from another family member can also file a witness claim. This compensation claim provides the settlement money resulting from the trauma of witnessing the injury. Many states require the witness family member to have some type of physical manifestation of injury, such as crying attacks, inability to sleep, or other types of physical injury.
For a wrongful death claim, the estate can also claim loss of income and support, medical bills, and funeral expenses. These are in addition to the indemnities requested for the death of the loved one and the associated losses.
Most of the settlements are paid by the insurance company for the negligent part. Hunting injury claims are often covered by the negligent person’s home insurance policy. In addition, many gun and hunting organizations provide hunters’ liability insurance as part of their organization’s membership fees. Most people are unaware of this additional coverage, and an experienced lawyer will track down all potential sources of compensation.
Buckfire & Buckfire, PC 2021National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 321