Visitor Question

Accidental gunshot wound in the leg… who’s at fault?

Submitted By: Mike (Spokane, Washington, USA)

My son-in-law is in the hospital after accidentally shooting himself. He was working at a friend’s house doing some remodeling. He saw a gun, picked it up, went to check if it was loaded, the gun went off, and he shot himself in the leg. I haven’t seen the police report yet, so I don’t have any further information.

He is still in the hospital. He had to be life-flighted from a small town. Does the homeowner have any liability for this? Is it only my son-in-law’s fault because he picked up the gun? Who is responsible? Thank you for any information you can give about this.

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.


Dear Mike,

While fault obviously lies within your son’s own actions, he may be able to recover the cost of some, or all of his medical bills. Hopefully, the homeowner carried homeowners’s insurance. If so, whether or not negligence was a factor is irrelevant.

Homeowner’s insurance normally pays for medical bills sustained by a third party (up to $1,000, under the MedPay portion of the policy), and does so without regard to who was at fault.

Have your son-in-law contact the homeowner and ask for the homeowner’s insurance contact information. Your son-in-law then needs to contact the homeowner’s insurance company and tell them he wants to file an injury claim.

His claim will be assigned to a claims adjuster who will review his medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. Homeowner’s insurance MedPay normally does not pay for an injured party’s pain and suffering.

If the homeowner fails to cooperate, your son-in-law will be in a precarious position. He really can’t sue the homeowner, because your son-in-law was at fault for firing the gun, whether intentional or not.

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: August 18, 2014

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