Hunting Accidents and Civil Liability Lawyers

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What are Typical Hunting Accidents?

A hunting accident usually involves a firearm or an arrow and falls into one of these categories:

  1. Accidental discharge of a weapon and shooting another person,
  2. Shooting at a target, missing, and hitting another person, or
  3. Mistaking another person for a wild animal and shooting them.

Can I Face Any Civil Liability for a Hunting Accident?

Most states treat hunting accidents like a negligence case, especially cases where the weapon accidently discharges.  Within that, a court will consider certain things like:

A few states treat hunting accidents like strict liability problems because they find a loaded firearm to be a dangerous instrument, or as an intentional claim based on battery of another person. Intentional claims can be brought when the hunter aims at a target but misses and hits a person instead. If the victim of the hunting accident dies, the shooter could be liable for their wrongful death or face criminal charges.

Can a Minor Face Liability for a Hunting Accident?

In most jurisdictions, a minor is anyone under the age of eighteen. A minor can be sued for injuries caused by a hunting accident, although the chances of success may differ between states. Successful litigation against a minor can be different because different states may apply different legal standards. Some states may hold the minor to a reasonable person standard; the same legal standard as adults. Other states may hold the minor to a reasonable child standard.

This distinction is made based on whether the state in question considers hunting to be a proper activity for children to engage in. In states where hunting is popular, hunting may be an appropriate activity for a child to take part in and thus the minor will only be held to the standard of a reasonable child. In states where hunting may not be as common, hunting can be considered a dangerous activity for a child and thus the minor will be held to a reasonable person standard.

What If the Victim Cannot Determine Who Exactly Shot The Bullet That Wounded Him or Her?

In a few cases, more than one hunter fires a shot at a person. In the event that it cannot be discovered who actually hit the victim, assuming that only one defendant caused the injury, many jurisdictions will hold all the hunters liable for the injuries unless the defendants can prove exactly who caused the injuries and who didn’t. This tactic, known as joint and several liability, shifts the burden of proof from the victim to the defendants.

However, if it is determined that more than one defendant hit the victim, than each of those defendants will be liable, regardless of how many of them there are.

Do I Need an Attorney if I am Involved in a Hunting Accident?

If you are the victim in a hunting accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  A lawyer will be able to explain your legal rights and make sure you receive your fair share.  If you are the shooter in a hunting accident, a lawyer is also necessary to protect you from liability. 

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Last Modified: 12-28-2012 11:22 AM PST

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