Two deputies at the Marshall County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Department were injured when a gun that they were repairing accidentally went off. Both were rushed to the hospital. One deputy whose hand was wounded has been released, while the other remains at Wheeling Hospital, his condition listed as stable after being shot in the hip.
The accident occurred at one of the deputy’s homes, shortly before they were to start their midnight shift. Both deputies were highly trained in firearm repair, and were the armorers for the Sheriff’s Department. One had been cleaning the .45-caliber glock semi-automatic when a spring broke. When the deputies tried to fix it, the firearm was discharged. Sheriff John Gruzinskas said that the department would review the procedures taken to see if the deputies were following department protocol.
Gun accidents happen all too frequently across the country. As this situation shows, even people highly trained in firearm use are not immune. Which is why it is important to follow all safety protocols related to gun use, so that you are not one of the victims. However, if you or your loved one gets in an accident, and it is related to work, what are your options? Many workplaces carry workers compensation insurance, which provides fixed payments to employees who are injured on the job, taking the place of wages while the employee recovers. The good news for employees is that workers compensation can be provided regardless of fault — so even if the two deputies did not follow all protocols, they could still collect workers compensation. The bad news is that it forces the employee to waive his or her right to sue the employer. Employees do not get to elect whether to accept workers compensation or hire a West Virginia personal injury attorney and sue in court; if an employer carries workers compensation insurance, the employee must automatically accept workers compensation. In some situations where the employee’s conduct might be partially at fault — such as if they ignored workplace protocols — that might be preferable, since it would be harder to prove the employer’s culpability in court.
In some cases, you might be able to file suit against a third party, such as the company that manufactured the gun. Maybe you could prove that it was a product liability issue: there was a dangerous defect in the gun that caused it to fire too easily despite a safety catch being on it. That defect led to your accident, and now you want to sue for damages, which will cover your wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. One thing you will want to watch out for is whether your culpability is as great, or greater, as the manufacturer’s culpability. In West Virginia, if you are equally at fault or more, you cannot collect, even if the other party deserves half of the blame.
The Wolfe Law Firm has helped people who were involved in all manner of product liability accidents. We know how to find the evidence and the experts to help you present the strongest case possible. If you are injured in an accident, contact us to learn more about your options.