Client Stories: Teenager Killed in Accidental Shooting

Michael GrossmanAugust 07, 2019 3 minutes

In this article, we'll discuss one of our firm's cases involving firearm negligence, in which the irresponsible decisions of adults directly contributed to a teenager's death.

Alcohol and Firearms Made for a Deadly Combination

In this case, a young man invited several friends to hang out on a relative's large ranch. The young man's family provided the youths with alcohol, knowing full well that they were not of legal drinking age and that firearms would be in use. At one point in the evening, two members of the group were left alone, as the others went on a joyride in an ATV. When they returned, one of their friends had been shot to death by the other.

While there were no signs of ill will between the shooter and the victim, police also had trouble sussing out the actual course of events, because the surviving young man gave authorities a series of lies and shifting stories. What we do know is that, at the time of the shooting, the plaintiff was sitting in a pickup truck with the window open, with the defendant standing outside. He then picked up his rifle and shot the plaintiff in the head as he sat in the truck.

The defendant originally told police that he was aiming his gun at a coyote and tracking it through his gun sights when it suddenly ran behind the truck, putting the truck between him and the coyote, which resulted in him accidentally firing it at the plaintiff.

However, when police interviewed the young women who had left before the shooting, they told a different story. They claimed that the defendant told them he was playing around with the gun when he brought it near his friend's head, placed his finger too close to the trigger, and accidentally fired. Later, the defendant offered yet another version of events, saying the gun had malfunctioned in some way and had gone off without his pulling the trigger. And a fourth narrative presented the shooting as an act of self-defense, with the two boys pointing guns at one another.

How Our Firm Got Justice For A Grieving Family

Ultimately, our investigation determined that the story relayed by the girls best fit the available evidence. The defendant had been playing around with a loaded weapon while intoxicated, pointed it at his friend without any ill intent, and shot him in a bout of drunken horseplay. Having established with confidence that we could prove this narrative's accuracy, we brought a wrongful death claim against the family of the defendant on several grounds.

First, and most obviously, the plaintiff's friend negligently handled a firearm by A) placing his finger on the trigger when he wasn't ready to fire and B) aiming his rifle at a person whom he neither intended to nor had cause to shoot. But his family was also guilty of negligent entrustment for giving him the firearm, as well as supplying him with alcohol, knowing that he and his friends were planning to go out shooting. While Texas law allows parents to provide their minor children with alcohol if they supervise them while it's consumed, it violates the law to furnish them with alcohol knowing that they're likely to consume it without supervision and while using guns.

While this kind of challenging case might scare off other firms, our attorneys knew the facts were on our side. After filing suit, litigating and resolving the cause, our clients received substantial compensation. While there's nothing wrong with responsible firearm ownership, when adults allow kids, guns, and alcohol to mix, horrific tragedies can easily happen. When they do, Grossman Law Offices stands ready to make sure those responsible are held accountable for their carelessness.