Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Is Seattle’s New Gun Storage Law Legal?

Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Crime victims do not always know that they also have a right to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator. Criminal prosecutions focus on punishment of the criminal, and not compensating the victim.

Civil law often allows victims to seek compensation from the people whose actions caused them harm, as well as people other than the ones who directly harmed them. For example, a shooting victim might be able to sue both the shooter and the person who provided access to the weapon.

A new law in Seattle says exactly that, but is the ordinance legal?

*Lawsuits Over Gun Storage Laws*The National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation, and two Seattle residents recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle, claiming its new gun storage ordinance violates Washington state law.

Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the ordinance into law in July, but it does not take effect until January 2019. The new ordinance requires gun owners to keep their firearms locked up and penalizes them for failing to do so. Specifically, gun owners can be fined:

The law stems from the idea that it is negligent to allow unauthorized users to access a weapon. (The law will help victims filing personal injury lawsuits.) Giving others access can lead to tragic gun accidents and fatalities. In fact, a study found that only 36% of Washington gun owners say they keep their firearms locked and unloaded at home.

The NRA and SAF also filed a lawsuit against the City of Edmonds after the city council passed a similar gun storage ordinance. The Edmonds ordinance allows fines up to $10,000 when children and at-risk people have access to a gun owner’s firearm. The lawsuits say that Washington cities can not regulate guns and these storage requirements are gun regulations. The idea is that state law preempts (takes precedence over) city law.

*Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington*Seattle’s new law will make it easier to establish negligence, but you can make that case regardless. If you are injured in a gun accident, you just need to prove that the gun owner breached a duty of care. This means that the owner had a responsibility (to you) to prevent the shooter from accessing the gun. For example, parents have a responsibility to keep their children from hurting others. This applies in school shootings and one-on-one incidents. If the parents know their child has a propensity for harming others, then they need to take special care to prevent the child from accessing their firearms.

Victims have three years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in Washington (unless the victim is a minor.) Washington is also a comparative fault state, meaning that damages are reduced by the victim’s own percentage of fault.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were injured in a gun-related incident. You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will help identify the persons who are responsible for your injuries and devise an effective legal strategy. Remember that a civil lawsuit is not a criminal prosecution, and one lawsuit does not depend on the other.