Visitor Question

Liability for suicide death with loaded and unlocked firearm?

Submitted By: T (Memphis, TN)

My 18 yr old daughter committed suicide at my employer’s home, where we worked and stayed, by using her loaded, unlocked revolver that was kept in a kitchen drawer. The homeowner was aware of my daughter’s mental disorders, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and that she stayed at her home alone at times.

The homeowner/gun owner had a hand gun carry permit, which means she had been trained in firearm safety, handling and storage of a gun. I need to find out about any and all laws and information regarding this scenario, and if I can pursue it pro se. Where should I begin? Does the homeowner have any liability? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear T,

Your daughter’s suicide is indeed unfortunate. From the facts you present, it doesn’t appear you have the basis of a legal claim against the homeowner.

While having to prove negligence is not a requirement for coverage under a homeowners insurance policy, homeowners insurance normally does not cover self-inflicted injuries or death, even if such injuries result in suicide. In your daughter’s case, the act of suicide constitutes a self inflicted injury, resulting in her death.

The next step is the consideration of a wrongful death claim against the homeowner. To succeed in a wrongful death claim on behalf of your late daughter, you will have to prove the homeowner was negligent, and that negligence resulted in your daughter’s untimely death.

Unfortunately, under the facts you present it may have been you, and not the homeowner who was the negligent party. The homeowner did nothing wrong. She had a gun carry permit, and was therefore not in violation of the law. Like you, the homeowner had no idea your late daughter was actively suicidal. As a result, the homeowner had no reason to lock up her firearm.

If you do feel the homeowner was negligent, and knew about your daughter being actively suicidal, contact a wrongful death attorney to discuss your case. Only an experienced attorney can handle a case like this.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 16, 2014

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