Hunting Accidents That Occur Out of Season: Criminal & Civil Repercussions

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

Regardless of whether a hunting accident occurs during hunting season or in the offseason, those who experience a hunting injury may be able to collect compensation for damages. A West Virginia personal injury attorney in Clarksburg can help injured hunters review the legal action they may take against a negligent party responsible for a hunting accident.

Types of Hunting Accidents

In order to hunt, individuals born after 1974 must take a free hunter education program before they can purchase a hunting license. The program goes over several issues, including gun and hunting safety. Errant shooting and gun handling can result in a hunting injury not only to the person firing the gun, but also to other hunters. Some common accidents involve the following:

  • Shooting before the target is identified. The anticipation of potentially shooting and killing a deer, turkey, pheasant, bear or other wild game can cause negligent hunters to pull the trigger too early before confirming that he/she is aiming at an animal.
  • Negligent gun handling. A novice hunter may not know how to handle a gun properly and may accidentally fire that loaded firearm. Likewise, an experienced hunter may become too relaxed around his/her gun and become careless. Some hunters may feel too comfortable and wave a firearm around, causing a hunting injury.
  • Shooting out of range. Some hunters may aim their guns in such a way that they create an arc pattern. Combined with spreadshot, this can cause bullets to spread over a wide area – so much so that the ammunition hits hunters out of sight. Hunters must be careful not exceed their line of sight. Some hunters may feel that the thickness of the brush and trees will prevent incidental hunting injuries to victims out of range, but this is not always the case.

Victims can work with West Virginia personal injury attorneys in Clarksburg for help sorting out the details of the incident and establishing another hunter’s negligence and liability for the resultant hunting injury.

Criminal Penalties for Negligent Shooting Hunting Accidents

When a hunter causes a hunting accident by negligently shooting another person, the hunter can face criminal penalties, including revocation of the hunting license. This is also true during the offseason, in which case, the hunter may face additional penalties for hunting out of season, including fines.

Regardless of the time of year, a hunter can be charged with criminal activity for shooting another hunter – even when done accidentally. Negligently shooting another person is considered a misdemeanor. If it does not result in serious injury or death, it could result in a fine up to $1,000 and jail time of up to six months. If it results in serious injury or death, the individual could face a fine up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

Hunters are required to stop and render aid to the injured person. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor if the victim did not sustain a serious injury or death – it can result in a fine up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. Failure to render aid is a felony if the victim suffers serious injury or death – it can result in a fine up to $5,000 and jail time of one to five years.

Civil Liability for Hunting Accidents

The negligent hunter could be sued for personal injury by the victim or wrongful death by the victim’s family. Hunting out of season may be considered careless or reckless in some cases, and a West Virginia personal injury attorney in Clarksburg could help recover other evidence of the hunter’s negligence.

The hunter could be responsible for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages and other economic damages, as well as non-economical damages like pain and suffering. Victims of these accidents can work with a West Virginia personal injury attorney in Clarksburg to establish all damages the victim has suffered as a result of the hunting injury.

Contacting a West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney in Clarksburg

Contact a West Virginia personal injury attorney from the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg. Call us at (304) 931-4088 to set up an appointment to review the details of your hunting accident and injuries and go over legal remedies for recovering compensation for damages.