While hunting carries inherent risks and dangers, may hunting “accidents” are hardly accidental. Firearms, tree stands, ammunition, crossbows and other hunting-related products, can have defects that add to the risks inherent in the sport.
In many cases, the sellers of hunting products do little to address the safety of the products they sell, because there is an assumption that, if someone is injured while hunting, it must necessarily be due to those inherent risks. Imagine, however, if someone is shot with a defective rifle that fires even when the trigger is not pulled, or a tree stand breaks and the hunter falls 20 feet to the ground due to defective connecting straps or defective welds.
The Problem with Hunting Accidents and Holding Manufacturer’s Liable
There is little regulation or oversight within the hunting industry. Firearms are not regulated by any organization, neither governmental nor trade. While many other hunting products have some oversight by government authorities, only captive trade organizations have any input into how products are designed or manufactured. Hence, consumers of hunting products are 100% at the mercy of product manufacturers and sellers, many of which are more concerned with product costs and profits than product safety.
Common Injuries Resulting from Hunting Accidents
Virtually every hunting activity involves the use of a weapon. Firearms and bows, conventional and cross bows, are the most common. One can only imagine the host of injuries that can ensue when someone is shot, including:
- Loss of limbs
- Deep penetrating wounds to tissues and organs
Firearms produce horrific injuries. Many big game hunters use “center fire” weapons. These high-powered weapons are designed to kill big game, and inflict gaping, organ-rending wounds on human beings. Defective firearm cases are poignant, as the victim is frequently someone who the gun handler knows well; e.g. friends, brothers, sons, wives and daughters.
In addition to the physical injuries suffered, the emotional wounds inflicted when a mother shoots and kills her son, can have unimaginable emotional consequences. Hunting is a social activity in today’s world, so hunting partners are nearly always someone with whom the gun handler has a close, or even intimate, relationship.
When someone plummets 15-20 feet from a tree stand, the consequences are equally terrible. One is usually lucky to escape with only broken limbs, but even legs shattered as a consequence of 20-foot fall can have crippling consequences. Death is not uncommon, and paralysis due to broken backs or necks is an all-to-frequent result.
Holding the Responsible Party Liable for Hunting Accidents
There are many potentially defective products related to firearms and tree stands, including defective ammunition for firearms and defective ladders and safety harnesses that accompany the use of tree stands. All have been the subject of prior claims and lawsuits. All hunting claims should be handled by attorneys who have experience with such claims, due to the unique products and the unique and common defenses.
In nearly all cases, the product seller or manufacturer will primarily claim the injury was solely caused by the negligence of the product user. The history of the formulation of so-called “commandments” of safety, can shed a lot of light on just how dangerous many products are, and just how much product manufacturers know of, and ignore, such hazards.