Following the controversial George Zimmerman verdict there’s been a renewed national debate about gun violence and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But no matter what your feelings about guns, chances are good that the one place you wouldn’t expect to be accidentally shot is a gun safety class.
That’s exactly what happened Aug. 10 in Ohio, when a gun safety instructor accidentally discharged a loaded firearm – and hit one of his students.
Ohio allows concealed carry of firearms, but to get the license citizens must pass a one-day safety class. Michael Piemonte and his wife, Allison, attended the class as a couple, both intending to get the permit for personal safety reasons. Unfortunately, the class became very unsafe when their teacher, Terry Dunlap Sr., demonstrated a .38 caliber handgun and accidentally fired it.
The bullet ricocheted off one of the classroom desks, which likely slowed its trajectory, before it hit Mr. Piemonte in his right arm.
There were several nurses among the students and Mr. Piemonte was quickly stabilized, then taken to the hospital. He was released in good condition, but the injury he sustained could potentially have long-term, if not permanent, effects on his use of his arm.
While the irony of this terrible accident put it in national headlines, legally it’s no different from any other injury. What happened in Terry Dunlap’s classroom was not intentional, but it also wasn’t unavoidable. Better planning and awareness on Dunlap’s part – the exact kind of awareness he was entrusted to teach – would have meant a safe, injury-free day. Instead, an innocent person was shot.
Any time one person’s negligence leads to another person being injured, no matter what the circumstances, the negligent party is liable for the outcome. The law provides that someone who causes an accident is responsible for the medical costs, damages, and even lost wages of the person injured.
To his credit, Mr. Piemonte is taking the accident in good spirits. He’s grateful it wasn’t more serious, and says he’s happy it didn’t hit one of the people sitting behind him – or his wife, who was right next to him. But the damage that it did, while thankfully non-fatal, could be an ongoing source of pain and disability.
This case should serve as a reminder that no one has to suffer on their own because of someone else’s brash actions. The law exists to protect victims and to attempt to restore some of what they lost.
If you or your loved ones have been injured in an accident of any kind, contact the law offices of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene for a free consultation today.