Weapons like crossbows are made of a small bow mounted on a stock that can be aimed like a firearm. They are often used in connection with hunting activities. Modern crossbows can sometimes fire with the same power as larger bows, depending on the type of material used and the design of the bow.
As with any weapon or shooting implement, crossbows can cause accidents and injuries. Among them are:
- Head injuries;
- Eye injuries;
- Injuries to the torso or limbs; or
- Various other similar injuries.
Since crossbows fire arrows similarly to bows, crossbow accidents and injuries can be very serious and sometimes even fatal. A crossbow can injure the shooter, especially if the crossbow malfunctions or something breaks during use.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Crossbow Accident?
A variety of factors can cause crossbow injuries. Crossbow manufacturers may be held liable for injuries caused by product defects. For example, the product is poorly designed, which causes the crossbow to discharge on its own without the user pressing the trigger. This defect may lead to a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
In other instances, a person using a crossbow might become liable for injuries to another person if they are negligent in the handling of the crossbow. For instance, if someone disregards safety procedures at a crossbow shooting range. A person in such a situation might be liable for negligence or similar violations.
Can I Argue That I Had No Intention of Hitting The Other Person?
The answer is no if you specifically aimed at and tried to hit a wild animal. Although you did not intend to hit the other person, you did intend to hit something. In civil law, the intention to hit any target can be transferred from one target to another.
Under criminal law, if there is a death, the prosecution would bypass the issue of intention by arguing that the defendant was criminally negligent in disregarding life (manslaughter). Intention makes criminal charges much less likely if there is no death.
Are There Any Defenses If I Face Civil Liability For a Hunting Accident?
There are two types of civil hunting accident claims: intentional and negligent. If you have been sued for a hunting accident but no death, the lawsuit could be for assault or battery. Assault and battery are both intentional acts.
A wrongful death claim might be imminent if there was a death. Wrongful deaths can either be intentional or negligent. Some states may allow a strict liability claim based on the argument that firearms are dangerous instruments regardless of how careful the defendant was with them.
Defenses to Claims of Intention
The best defense against an intentional claim is that the shooting was not planned. However, during a hunt, the purpose is to shoot something, so this defense would be difficult to use. The only intention that matters is the defendant’s intention to hit a target with the weapon.
Causation, or whether the defendant caused the injury, can also be disputed.
However, this defense may only work if the victim was injured by someone or something other than the defendant. If two people shot at the victim simultaneously, but it is unclear who injured the victim, then both individuals would be liable. If the defendants can prove who hit the victim exactly, then only the defendant who hit the victim would be liable.
Defenses to Negligence
The defendant is said to have been negligent if they hit a person when they meant to hit a wild animal. As a result, the question of negligence is held to a “reasonable person standard.” In other words, the defendant’s carelessness is compared to a reasonable person’s. The standard can be modified slightly to accommodate the defendant’s experience with the weapon.
Causation can also be argued, just like intentional claims.
Negligence adds a layer of causation not found in intentional claims, however. The injury must be foreseeable or a direct consequence of the defendant’s actions for the defendant to be liable for negligence.
The defendant can also argue that the victim assumed the risk of being shot at. The assumption of risk can only be used as a defense if the victim knew the area was popular for hunting.
Defenses to Strict Liability
In strict liability, the defendant is responsible for any injuries caused by the mere use of a firearm on their property. Despite being the most difficult type of personal injury claim to defend, strict liability only applies when a state law declares an activity strictly liable. The number of strict liability cases will therefore be limited.
All personal injury claims can be defended against by arguing that the victim contributed to his or her own injury by being careless. This defense can either be a complete defense against liability or can lower the amount of compensation awarded.
Can I Face Any Criminal Liability for a Hunting Accident?
In most states, hunting accidents are divided into two categories when it comes to punishment:
No Death Occurs
If the victim of a hunting accident does not die, some states have specific requirements:
- Your name should be given to the victim,
- Assist the victim, including taking them to the hospital
- Report the accident to the appropriate government agency.
In case of a hunting accident, shooting another person or failing to follow these steps can lead to:
- Fines: generally around $5,000 – $10,000,
- Jail time: generally not more than 1 year, or
- A combination of both.
If the victim of a hunting accident dies, you are subject to general homicide principles. Most cases lead to a conviction of one of the following:
- Involuntary or second-degree manslaughter, or
- Criminal negligent homicide.
Are There Any Defenses If I Face Criminal Liability For a Hunting Accident?
The chances of criminal liability go down if a hunting accident does not result in death. Before being charged with a crime under a penal code (the part of state law that contains most criminal laws), a person must have both an act and a certain mental state. This is where intent matters most. The failure to provide proper assistance to a victim is more likely to result in punishment in non-fatal hunting accidents.
If a hunting accident results in a death, the state can bring a charge of involuntary manslaughter based on criminal negligence. In criminal negligence, the defendant shows little regard for the safety of others. Unlike civil negligence, the defendant must know that their conduct may result in injury to another person. Murder is a remote possibility, although unlikely, since most courts require that the defendant have a malicious intention (a desire to harm others) before the charge of murder can be used.
Criminal law has a higher standard than civil law, so it is not unusual for a defendant to be free from criminal liability but liable for civil damages.
What Are the Legal Remedies for a Crossbow Accident?
Crossbow accidents can cause serious injuries and may require legal action in some cases. In these cases, the legal remedy will usually be a monetary damages award issued to the injured party. Medical bills, hospital costs, medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs may be covered by damages.
In addition, some crossbows may be recalled if they are defective. A crossbow model may also result in a class-action lawsuit if many consumers are injured.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Crossbow Accident Case?
Crossbow accidents can result in serious injuries and complex legal issues. It may be in your best interests to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need help with a claim. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and representation.