As with all products guns are sometimes defective. The difference between guns and other products is obvious. Guns are designed to kill. Therefore, they are much more dangerous, especially if manufactured with a defect. Gun manufactures know this and should take special care in the design, manufacture and sale of their products.
There are several ways in which guns can be defective or marketed improperly, thus leading to a viable claim. Sometimes guns are sold without proper instructions or warnings. Everybody knows that there are foreseeable risks related to guns. Most of the time the risks are associated with user negligence or misconduct. However, some guns are manufactured in such a way that they might be more easily misused or improperly used than other guns. For example a gun manufactured with a specially sensitive trigger mechanism should come with warnings as to that aspect of the gun.
Another way in which a gun may be defective is called a design defect. If a gun is manufactured with a defect in its design that makes it unreasonable dangerous, then an accident involving that gun could lead to a viable product liability lawsuit. A recent settlement involving Remington’s 700 series is an example of an alleged design defect. Under the terms of this settlement, Remington has agreed to retrofit a number if its models to eliminate an alleged defect in its unique trigger mechanism. This mechanism was designed by Remington engineer Mike Walker in the 1940s. The allegations are that Remington was aware of a possible unsafe condition related to the gun’s safety that allowed the gun to fire accidentally. The settlement covers the model 700, Sportsman’s 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600,660, XP-100, 721, 722 and 725.
Another type of defect that could render a gun unreasonably dangerous is called a manufacturing defect. If a gun is properly and adequately designed, but there is some flaw in the manufacturing process, then an accident with the gun resulting from that manufacturing defect could lead to a product liability lawsuit.
Other types of lawsuits evolving guns could be negligence cases, negligently selling guns and negligently entrusting guns. In negligence cases you would have to prove a breach of a duty involving the operation of the gun and an injury or death which was proximately caused by the breach of that duty. For example, a hunter discharging a weapon in a dangerous manner could lead to a negligence case. At Jinks, Crow and Dickson we recommend to our clients that all gun owners take gun safety courses and certainly take their children who reach gun operating age to gun safety courses to learn the proper ways to use firearms. Tragically, many people are injured or killed every year in hunting accidents. With proper training and the use of due care these horrible accidents can be avoided. In negligent sale cases, there may be a violation of a statute with regard to a sale of a gun to a purchaser who is mental unstable or underage or who has a criminal record. Allowing someone to use a gun or providing a gun to someone who is underage or who has a mental disorder can lead to a negligence entrustment case.
At Jinks, Crow and Dickson we have evaluated and prosecuted a number of cases evolving death or injury related to the use of guns. These are indeed tragic cases and certainly we would prefer that these horrible accidents never happen. However, when they do, we have the resources to adequately investigate and prosecute our clients’ cases.