With Opening Season Comes Great Responsibility
Winter is an exciting time for many reasons, and for hunters, the reason is the opening of several hunting seasons. While the bow-hunting of turkey and antlered deer is legal year-round in most areas, rifles, pistols, and shotguns are only legal during the winter months. Responsible hunters know that these weapons, if used properly, can lead to a successful day of hunting. What many don’t consider, however, is that lending out firearms to fellow hunters can create a big hunting liability issue.
In Florida, all firearms are “dangerous instrumentalities” under the law. This means that gun owners have more exposure to lawsuits for the misuse or mishandling of their guns. These types of lawsuits generally fall into one of two categories:
- Negligent entrustment.
- Negligence per se
Florida Gun Safety Laws
Negligent entrustment occurs when a hunter lends their gun out to someone they knew or should have known would mishandle or misuse the gun. For example, you are out hunting with friends, and know that one friend has had a few drinks. If you know they have been drinking, yet still allow them to use your gun, you are being negligent of gun safety laws. Similarly, loaning a gun to an inexperienced hunter is also considered negligent entrustment. If you negligently let someone use a gun, and they injure themselves or another, you may be found liable.
Similarly, the gun owner can be held liable if they violated a particular law that protects a group of individuals. For example, Florida Statutes states that that lending weapons to minors without express parental permission is a violation of Florida gun laws, and makes the gun owner liable for any injuries. So, if you let a minor use your gun and an injury results, you may be held liable, since you broke a law that protects a certain group.
If someone is legally handling your firearm, be sure to practice these four primary gun safety rules:
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
- Treat every firearm as if it is a loaded one
- When aiming, be aware of what is in front of and beyond your target
- Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to fire
Of course, the best way to avoid liability is to make sure you are the only person who has access to your guns. During Florida hunting season, make safety a top priority.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.