For that reason, a gun left unattended around invited guests should be seen as a recipe for disaster. Yet are there instances when a gun maker could be held liable for an injury? The answer is yes, based on a product liability theory. The proof is a current class action lawsuit against Taurus, a manufacturer of handguns. The plaintiffs allege that some models of the company’s handguns may accidentally fire if dropped. Taurus recently agreed to a proposed $39 million settlement, which includes attorneys’ fees.

In any type of lawsuit involving an injury from another’s negligence, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. On the other hand, a jury, or lawmakers, for that matter, may meet a claim unsupported by the facts of the accident with little sympathy. One example is the number of states that have passed laws that prohibit the filing of frivolous lawsuits against handgun manufacturers.

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Finally, although a victim of another individual’s negligence may assume that civil lawsuit will prove fault, there are distinct types of negligence claims. When a defective or dangerous product is involved, the claim is usually brought under product liability law. Similarly, an injury on another owner’s property invokes premises liability law. Other types of negligence, such as car accidents, may be characterized simply as personal injury lawsuits.

Source: Washington Post, “The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act: Facts and policy,” David Kopel, May 24, 2016

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