Berkeley, CA asked in Personal Injury for California

Q: Person A, a neighbor, caused a horse to bolt by shooting a firearm, killing or injuring person B. Is person A liable?

It is an unincorporated area of the county. Shooting guns is legal. Question is in regards to civil law, is person A liable for the death or serious injury of person B?

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4 Lawyer Answers

A: That's such a sad story. What a crazy situation.

We all have a duty of "reasonable care." In cases that don't settle, juries ultimately determine what is "reasonable." I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people to shoot shotguns in rural areas even if horses are nearby. I've done it myself. But I don't think it would be reasonable to stand 5 feet from a horse in a pasture crowed with lots of kids and shoot a shotgun over the horse's head. The shooter would be asking for trouble in that situation. There are obviously lots of factual scenarios where your hypothetical situation could be reasonable or unreasonable. I would need to know more facts.

1 user found this answer helpful

Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The answer most lawyers will give when asked a legal question is IT DEPENDS. Unless a lawyer has received all the facts s/he can’t spit out a credible answer. Junk in equals junk out.

Every case is unique, and more information is needed to properly answer your query intelligently. In other words it is usually both case and client-specific. Does the client have a record? For what? How long ago?

I would initially caution you NOT to discuss your case on an open forum like this. You should also not discuss it on any social media.

It is always a good idea to contact a lawyer local to you, that handles these types of cases in the court where you would have to appear. Many lawyers do not charge a consultation fee.

Most DUI and Accident lawyers will offer a free consultation to review the facts. For other areas of law, many lawyers will bill for a consultation. Try to get a local legal consultation.

In other words, I am in Palm Springs and you don’t want to hire a Palm Springs lawyer for an LA case. In those cases, I usually try to refer the potential client to a lawyer more proximate to where this happened.

On criminal matter, please remember the court will appoint a court-appointed lawyer for you. That lawyer will have all the evidence in front of him/her and be in a better position to provide an intelligent answer.

For a criminal case, success may depend on how the evidence was obtained and the details regarding the stop and arrest, as well as a review of the facts of your case. A lawyer can't promise success any more than a brain surgeon can before surgery.

If you need help finding a good lawyer and are in a position to retain a private lawyer, please contact me.

Good Luck

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I got this on a Law School exam once, and used same thing on exams that I gave to students!!! 1. Shooting a gun could be an "ultra hazardous activity" for which a person is STRICTLY LIABLE for any harm they cause. 2. if Negligence, was it REASONABLY FORESEEABLE that harm could occur, in that way, if the gun was discharged? (Mr. Young's response discusses this) In Negligence a "reasonable man" standard applies, would a reasonable man believe there was a risk of harm. Sorry to hear that this resulted in a death. If this occurred to a relative or a family member you may want to consult, or recommend your friend consult, a Personal Injury attorney to see if you have a wrongful death claim against the person with a gun, their parents and/or their homeowner's insurance. (you don't actually have a claim directly against the insurance but the people could be covered.)

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William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Depends. Did he know the horse was near? Had a rider? Was skittish? Negligence depends on all of the facts and circumstances. Riders also have a responsibility to exercise caution. They assume risks of the sporting activity in which they are engaged, including horses being spooked while they are horse riding.

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