Homeowners who Possess Firearms Have Unique and Distinct Duties to their Visitors
Any homeowner will owe some general duties to people who visit their property. This includes making sure the property is free from any extremely hazardous conditions, that the visitors are warned of any inconspicuous hazards, and that the visitors are warned of any hazards that the homeowner already had knowledge of. Homeowners must make these general repairs and adhere to standard codes. For example, if the homeowner has a pool, it must be contained by a fence, if the homeowner has a broken stair, it must be roped off or the visitor must be warned, etc. These duties do change slightly, depending on the classification of the visitor, and whether he or she is considered an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.Read here to find out more about the status of visitors to a premises.
When homeowners possess dangerous weapons, like firearms, they take on even more responsibilities. Anyone who owns firearms has to adhere to standard procedures. For example, in Texas, firearms can't be accessible to children under 17; they can't be readily dischargeable and must be secured in a locked container or through using a trigger lock. These duties are standard for anyone who owns or possesses a firearm, but as the owner of a property, the duties and punishments are more severe for not adhering to these codes.
What happens if someone is injured by a firearm on your property?
If you are a homeowner, and someone is injured by a firearm, a jury will look at the case to see whether you or the visitor were are at fault. As previously mentioned, your duties change according to the status of the visitor. If the visitor is an invitee, they are owed the highest standard of duty. For example, if you are a homeowner, and you are renting a room to someone, they would be considered an invitee. This person is owed more duties because it is a relationship of mutual benefit. In this case, for example, you'd have to make sure the invitee (tenant) was kept safe from harm, and that any firearms are inaccessible to children under the age of 17. In the case of a firearm incident or shooting from a third party, there may be instances when the homeowner is still liable if they had knowledge of the third party's dangerous past criminal record or associated with people who engaged in criminal activity.
Similar laws apply to a licensee. A licensee would be any house guest, a family member of the household, or a firefighter or police officer entering the property in an emergency situation. If someone came to your house as a guest, and you invite them into a room with a gun, it is your responsibility to make sure all safety precautions are taken. On the other hand, if your gun is kept in a separate area of a room and they wander off into an area of the house they were not invited in, they then take on the status of a trespasser. The only duties you owe this trespasser are to refrain from gross negligence, and to take child trespassers into account. A homeowner would always be responsible for any firearm injuries a child would sustain, since they have extra duties to both make sure firearms are inaccessible to children and to be held liable for attractive nuisances. A gun may fall into this category, because a child may not know the dangers associated with handling it. Read more about duties owed to a trespasser here.
Wrongful death firearms cases
If a member of your family was killed from a firearm on someone else's property, you may have a wrongful death claim. In order to know where the responsibility for the death lies, it is important to have all of the facts and to make sure the shooting is thoroughly investigated. The attorneys at Grossman Law know that you are experiencing incomprehensible losses and that more than anything else, you want answers, and you want to make sure a similar tragedy won't happen again in the future. We can help you find those answers, and never require any compensation unless you win your case. Call us now at (855)326-0000.