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Who is to Blame (and Liable) for Mass Shootings?

Sadly, reports of mass shootings have become commonplace news nationwide. Recently, some mass shootings have even failed to make a headline. As law enforcement agencies gear up for criminal proceedings after an attack, victims and their loved ones will try to restore their lives. In some cases, a shooter will take his own life in the act. Regardless of whether the shooter survives or is convicted and sent to prison, victims and their families want answers. While a criminal investigation and prosecution can relieve some pressure in a community, many of those affected by a tragedy will still ask, why did this happen? How could it have been prevented? Who is at fault?

Theories of liability
In the event of negligence, recklessness, or even intentional homicide, an experienced advocate can investigate to determine the cause of injury or death and identify responsible parties. Our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers are experienced in handling complex injury cases and pursuing full benefits on behalf of victims. Mass shootings and the associated liability remains a developing area of law.

Consider that any accident has multiple theories of liability. Here are some examples of liability theory that could be viable in a mass shooting injury or wrongful death claim:

Premises liability
After the Aurora, Colorado shooting which occurred during a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises, victims attempted to bring a premises liability claim against the theater company. In defense, the theater representatives asserted that they could not have foreseen such a crime and therefore, could do nothing to prevent it. Victims, however, claimed that the security should have been present during the showing, even if to control the potential hazards of large and swarming crowds. Despite the objections of the defense, the Federal Court judge has allowed the case to proceed.

Employer liability

Employers are responsible for creating a safe work environment and for screening their employees. Failure to perform background check and provide security could result in liability. A Tampa woman, whose sister was killed in the September Washington Navy Yard shooting has filed a wrongful death claim against the federal government. She must first file and administrative claim against the U.S. Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs before her case can proceed. According to her complaint, the Navy was negligent when it allowed the shooter to maintain his security clearance despite his history of mental illness, access to weapons, and threats of violence.

Mental health system negligence
According to recent statistics, Americans consider the mental health system as the biggest factor to blame for mass shootings. A Gallup Poll indicated that 48% of respondents blamed the mental health system for the Tucson shooting that took the lives of six victims in 2011. If a shooter has confided in a school counselor or other professional, could that individual or their affiliated entity be held accountable for not taking preventative measures to stop a shooting?

Of course, mass shooting crimes are always complicated and involve a number of factors. Placing blame is not always the right solution. But there are always cases where innocent lives could have been saved with appropriate security and foresight. With the increasing number of mass shootings, the legal system is evolving to determine when victims have a cause of action and who is liable.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Freeman Injury Law for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-561-7777.

More Blog Entries:

Temporary Workers at High Risk of Injury in Fort Laudredale
, West Palm Beach, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, May 13, 2013

U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, Equitable Relief, and Third-Party Work Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, April 22, 2013

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