It seems every other week, another mass shooting is in the headlines. No matter where you stand on the contentious gun control issue, pretty much everyone can agree these incidents are tragic. They leave families not only bereft, but often drowning financially. Those we lose are often people in their prime, wage-earners who help support their families. Those who survive may incur astronomical medical bills and endure months-long recovery or lifelong disability.
But aside from the shooters in these incidents, is there anyone really to blame? The gunmen in these cases (and they are almost always men) often commit suicide or are killed. If they do survive, their punishment will be handled within the criminal justice system. That case could be accompanied with an order of restitution, but it’s often not nearly enough to cover the damages of so many – and that assumes defendant would ever be able to pay it. Unlike a car accident or a dog bite or slip-and-fall at a store, intentional acts of violence are generally not covered by insurance companies. It’s an almost universal exclusion.
Pretty much the only way victims of crime can seek compensation is through third-party liability, usually on the theory of premises liability. This theory holds that property owners knew or should have reasonably foreseen the risk of such a violent act and taken reasonable steps to prevent it. Continue reading →