When a person is injured, they can sue for damages if the injury results from negligence or intentional wrongdoing. “Negligence” is the failure to use ordinary care, and hunting is an activity where this rule applies.
If a motorist runs a stop sign, causing an intersectional collision, the negligent driver may be sued for the injuries inflicted. In the same respect, a hunter who is negligent can be sued for injuries they inflict. In addition to lawsuits grounded in negligence, manufacturers of defective hunting products can be sued for either negligence, or what is known as “strict liability”.
When suing an individual, the most common theory of recovery is “negligence”. While few injuries are truly the result of an “accident,” most are the result of something other than intentional wrongdoing. A claim for negligence can be brought for injuries suffered at the hands of someone who has failed to exercise that degree of due care exercised by others under the same or similar circumstances. It is a general standard and applies to what a member of the general public would have done, rather than what the actual person did or failed to do under the circumstances.
Some negligent acts are of “co-mission.” In other words, someone committed an affirmative act; e.g. aimed a rifle in an unsafe direction, erected a tree stand using faulty devices, etc. Other acts of negligence can be those of “omission”; e.g. erected a tree stand and failing to secure the tree with proper straps or cables.
Such claims, generally, are undertaken against individuals, but product manufacturers can also be responsible for negligent acts that result in faulty or defective products.
While product manufacturers can be sued for products that are negligently designed or manufactured, the most common theory of recovery against manufacturers of defective products is strict liability. When pursuing a case for strict liability, a product manufacturer can be responsible even if it exercised all due care. Rather, a product manufacturer is strictly liable for a product that is defective due to design or manufacture in such a way that it is unreasonably dangerous.
Defective design cases arise when a product is engineered in such a way that there is a defect inherent in the product. Examples of this include:
- Faulty components
- Incorrect dimensions
- Subpar materials
Defective manufacture cases arise when the design is otherwise safe, but some mistake is made in assembly or manufacture, such that the product does not conform to even the product manufacturer’s specifications. In some cases, product manufacturers can also be sued for improper warnings or instructions for products that may be safe if properly used, but the manufacturer fails to give a product user sufficient information on how to safely assemble or use a product.
Product liability is a highly specialized area of the law, and the particulars of injuries suffered as a result of hunting practices and procedures all the more so. As a result, not every lawyer is equipped with the skill set necessary to know both product liability and the subtleties of hunting practices. Make sure your lawyer has the necessary experience. Only a skilled and experienced lawyer can sort through the inherent dangers involved with hunting practices and products, and decide your best course of action.