Regardless of one’s personal beliefs about firearms, no one disputes the power and energy in a fired bullet. When a human is struck by a fired round, the consequences can be catastrophic. When someone injures another person by shooting them unlawfully, the criminal justice system can mete out appropriate punishment, but punishment alone does not make the victim whole. Moreover, where an individual is shot by accident, the criminal justice system many not engage judicial process at all.
Whether intentional or accidental, those suffering gunshot wounds may need to turn to a civil lawsuit in order to obtain compensation. However, questions remain about what legal theories are available and who can be held responsible?
If someone intentionally shoots another person, or if the shooter acts with reckless disregard for the safety of others when discharging a firearm, it can be a crime—except under certain circumstances, such as justified self-defense. A judge will typically order an individual convicted of unlawfully shooting pay restitution, together with the prescribed incarceration and fines. However, restitution may be limited to medical bills and other economic loss without taking pain and suffering into account. Under these circumstances, a civil lawsuit for the same shooting may be necessary to be fully compensated.