Every New Year’s Eve, thousands of people across the country celebrate by shooting their guns into the sky. If you’re wondering “what’s the harm?” consider this recent Texas case. A 61-year-old Houston woman was killed on New Year’s Eve from celebratory gunfire while she was lighting fireworks in front of her home with her family. Police believe that someone in the neighborhood pointed their gun in the air and fired live ammunition. What goes up must come down, and in this case, it can result in serious injury or death.
Can You File Wrongful Death Due to Celebratory Gunfire?
If your loved one was killed by a stray bullet from celebratory gunfire, the police will likely investigate. If they can identify the perpetrator and have enough evidence, criminal charges can be pursued. The defendant will either negotiate a plea deal, get the case dismissed or go to trial. If convicted, they may face criminal punishments. However, this doesn’t compensate the family for their suffering.
Regardless of the outcome of the criminal case, you may be able to file a wrongful death civil suit, too. Wrongful death is a form of personal injury law, in which the surviving family members file a claim on behalf of the deceased. Instead of sending the person to jail, wrongful death allows the family to sue for damages, including:
- Loss of financial support and services, such as the wages the deceased would have contributed to the family, or housework, childcare and maintenance they would have performed
- Loss of companionship, care and other social benefits the deceased provided
- Mental anguish the family suffered from the untimely passing
- Loss of the potential inheritance the survivors would have been entitled to otherwise
To prove the wrongful death claim, you and your attorney will need to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person, they breached that duty of care (negligently or recklessly firing the gun in the air) and that breach was directly responsible for the deceased’s death.
If the defendant was found guilty in a criminal court, the civil case will likely be much easier to prove: criminal cases have a much higher burden of proof than civil cases. Even if they weren’t found guilty, you should still contact an experienced attorney to find out if you have enough evidence to prove a civil case.
Call Me for Assistance with Your Wrongful Death Claim
If your loved one has died due to someone’s negligent gunfire, call me. Your family deserves the peace of mind of knowing that you took action to protect others from experiencing a similar fate. I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office today at 877.944.4373 to discuss your case and to learn more about your options for seeking financial compensation.