Responsible gun owners know that they need to keep their firearms and ammunition stored in a safe, secure place. Modern gun safe technology makes it possible for a homeowner to get quick access to a weapon in the event of a home invasion, while still keeping the gun safely out of reach the rest of the time. But gun owners don’t always do the responsible thing. A gun may be left out where someone could find it and get injured by it.
Although very small children are a highly vulnerable group when it comes to unsecured firearms, they are not the only at-risk population. Older children may also see a gun as a kind of toy, or worse may see it as a way to intimidate someone else. People with mental illness or cognitive problems may also be prone to mishandling a gun. Even someone who is familiar with gun safety might not know the particular characteristics of a weapon (such as a hair trigger) and accidentally discharge it.
When the improper storage of a gun leads to an injury or death, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate. A Nevada personal injury lawsuit typically rests on the question of the defendant’s negligence. For negligence to apply, the defendant must have breached a duty of care that he or she owed to the defendant. Importantly, although gun safety courses emphasize the importance of keeping guns locked up, Nevada law does not require gun owners to keep their guns in safes. As a result, one of the first hurdles a plaintiff must overcome is the extent to which the gun owner’s behavior failed to meet a reasonable standard of safety.
Because Nevada doesn’t have a clear-cut rule about storing firearms, each case needs to be examined carefully to determine the extent to which the defendant is responsible for injuries resulting from an accidental use of a gun. The broad consensus among gun safety experts that a gun should be stored in a safe provides a good baseline rule but may not be helpful in some situations. Some questions that may arise include:
- Did the gun owner take reasonable care to ensure that the gun was safely out of reach of others, even if it wasn’t locked up?
- Did the gun owner leave the gun loaded when it was irresponsible to do so?
- How foreseeable was it that the gun could be accessed by someone other than the owner, such as a small child?
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by another person’s negligent storage of a firearm, we would be happy to help you explore your options for seeking compensation. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.