March 16, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- The usual gun control measures are bans on assault weapons, prohibitions on sales at gun shows, limitations on the size and number of ammunition magazines and more-stringent background checks with longer waiting periods. But what about requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance as a method of gun control? Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the idea of mandatory liability insurance for gun owners as a means to regulate gun ownership has been gaining traction.
Mandatory liability insurance as a method of gun control
The goal of mandatory liability insurance is to encourage certain behavior by raising the price of gun ownership. Because policy premiums will be based on the risk posed by a particular gun and/or owner, the hope is that gun owners will opt for less dangerous guns, take more firearm safety courses and use trigger locks and similar devices to make their guns safer, actions for which they will be rewarded with a less-expensive premium.
Opponents of this approach argue that mandatory liability insurance could raise the cost of gun ownership so dramatically that many will be priced-out of gun ownership -- a clear violation of the Second Amendment. They also point out that even if mandatory liability insurance laws could pass constitutional muster, it would be a long time, if ever, before the effects would trickle down and actually affect the number and type of guns on the street.
However, one thing that both sides can agree on is that unlike other gun control measures, mandatory liability insurance eases the financial burden gun violence places on the victims and society at large.
Ease burden on victims and government programs
Requiring firearm owners to obtain liability insurance will benefit the victims of gun-related injuries and deaths by paying out damages in personal injury
and wrongful death
lawsuits -- damages the typical defendant could likely not afford to pay and damages the typical victim desperately needs to move on with his or her life.
In Ohio, personal injury plaintiffs may be entitled to economic damages and non-economic damages to compensate them for their injuries. Economic damages are awarded to compensate victims for their actual losses, such as past a future medical expenses and past and future lost earning capacity. Non-economic damages on the other hand are compensation for injuries like pain and suffering, physical disfigurement and/or impairment, loss of the enjoyment of life and effect on physical health. Also in Ohio, the surviving spouse, dependent children, parents or next-of-kin of a person wrongfully killed by a firearm may be entitled to compensation for the lost financial support the deceased would have provided from his or her future earnings, the lost services of the deceased, the loss of the deceased person's society, the loss of prospective inheritance and mental anguish.
Requiring firearms owners to carry liability insurance will also benefit society at large. When a person is killed or seriously injured by a gun, ensuring victims and their families have the financial resources to pay past and future medical expenses and otherwise support themselves means those costs will not be borne by taxpayer-supported government programs and benefits.
Policy decisions to be made
In enacting mandatory liability insurance for gun ownership, states would need to decide who is eligible for a payout. For example, states could make explicit in the law that no payout is allowed if the gun-related injury or death occurred during the commission of a criminal act. Similarly, state could also exclude payouts to people who used a firearm to commit suicide.
States would also need to decide who should be held liable. A state could adopt a no-fault system whereby any harm caused by a gun is covered, whether or not the gun owner was negligent or otherwise responsible for the injury.
Alternatively, a state could adopt a negligence system whereby the gun owner is only liable for injuries if he or she intentionally or negligently caused the harm. For example, the law could hold liable the firearm owner even if the gun was stolen from the owner's vehicle if he or she was negligent by leaving the gun in plain sight. Similarly, the law could say the owner of a stolen gun will not be liable for injuries caused by the gun if the owner took reasonable steps to prevent the gun's theft or unauthorized use by storing it in the locked trunk of a his or her car or securing it with a trigger lock.
Seek legal counsel
The careless and reckless actions of others should not be allowed to cause catastrophic losses to those who have been injured or lost a family member by those actions. Working closely with a personal injury lawyer who will explain clearly all rights, options and consequences can help to ensure that you make decisions that are in your interests. Call today to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.
Article provided by Weisman, Kennedy & Berris Co., L.P.A.
Visit us at www.weismanlaw.com---
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