Civil liability

This is a discussion on Civil liability within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; My CCW instructor, a criminal defense attorney who has represented several CCW holders who were involved in shootings offered an interesting perspective on the civil ...

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Thread: Civil liability

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    Member Array 390beretta's Avatar
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    Civil liability

    My CCW instructor, a criminal defense attorney who has represented several CCW holders who were involved in shootings offered an interesting perspective on the civil liability following a shooting issue: He said it's rarely an issue!! Here's why: The shooter would need to be extremely wealthy in order for an attorney to be willing to take the case and for the civil action to make sense. First, there would need to be reasonable doubt that the shooting wasn't justified, even harder to prove if criminal charges weren't filed. Secondly, in most of these cases the attorney would need to spend at least $50,000 dollars of his own money up front to get the case to court. Then, win the case in order to collect his 30-40% fee of the awarded damages; assuming the defendant had enough money to make it worthwhile. Finally, getting a judgement is just the first issue; then he and the complainant would have to "collect"....and there are several ways to avoid paying. He sited the OJ case where the complainants won a $30,000,000 plus judgement. He said OJ never paid them $1. Just wondering if anyone has any additional thoughts/information to add to this. I'd especially like to hear from any attorneys out there. Thanks

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    Senior Member Array Jackle1886's Avatar
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    That sounds close to what I've been told. The prosecuting attorney doesn't like to file unless they are for sure it was not a "good shoot." This is because if they DO NOT win, the county/state have to pay for the defendants legal fees.
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    Senior Member Array PaulJ's Avatar
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    It depends a lot on the state. In some states, attorneys are allows to charge a fee based on outcome, in others not. Yet other states, like Florida, outright make it illegal to go after civil damages if a shooting is found as justified.
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    Well, in Tennessee, if you injure an attacker in a justified shooting, he/they cannot bring a civil suit against you.

    However, if one were to injure an innocent, you can be pretty sure to wind up in a civil suit. You may not have money, but you may have a house, car, other valuables, and wages for the rest of your life that might be worth something.
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    Member Array stickybeatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 390beretta View Post
    My CCW instructor, a criminal defense attorney who has represented several CCW holders who were involved in shootings offered an interesting perspective on the civil liability following a shooting issue: He said it's rarely an issue!! Here's why: The shooter would need to be extremely wealthy in order for an attorney to be willing to take the case and for the civil action to make sense. First, there would need to be reasonable doubt that the shooting wasn't justified, even harder to prove if criminal charges weren't filed. Secondly, in most of these cases the attorney would need to spend at least $50,000 dollars of his own money up front to get the case to court. Then, win the case in order to collect his 30-40% fee of the awarded damages; assuming the defendant had enough money to make it worthwhile. Finally, getting a judgement is just the first issue; then he and the complainant would have to "collect"....and there are several ways to avoid paying. He sited the OJ case where the complainants won a $30,000,000 plus judgement. He said OJ never paid them $1. Just wondering if anyone has any additional thoughts/information to add to this. I'd especially like to hear from any attorneys out there. Thanks
    Did you take your CCW class at Scottsdale Gun Club? That sounds awfully familiar to what the criminal defense lawyer/CCW instructor told my class

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    In Tx if it'a a good shoot we are exempt from civil prosecution
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    VIP Member Array AllAmerican's Avatar
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    No civil liability in SC

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    The correctly written 'Castle Doctrine' can certainly help.
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    Senior Member Array cwblanco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 390beretta View Post
    . . . . The shooter would need to be extremely wealthy in order for an attorney to be willing to take the case and for the civil action to make sense.
    May not be accurate. You may be covered under your home owners insurance in some states, if a "negligent" shooting is alleged.
    Secondly, in most of these cases the attorney would need to spend at least $50,000 dollars of his own money up front to get the case to court.
    That statement might be true in a medical malpractice case. However, I can see a negligent shooting case getting to trial without the need for any plaintiff's expert witnesses, in which event the out of pocket expenses could be as little as $1,000.
    Then, win the case in order to collect his 30-40% fee of the awarded damages; assuming the defendant had enough money to make it worthwhile. Finally, getting a judgement is just the first issue; then he and the complainant would have to "collect".
    True collectibility is a prime concern.

    In the final analysis, the primary question is - "Is the case a dog case?" Does the bad guy have a criminal record?

    No lawyer wants a slam-dunk "dog" case. A lot of work and no pay. However, civil defense lawyers loves these cases. Easy mony and easy win. Regardless of what people say and whatever threatening letters are sent, if it is a bad plaintiff's case, plaintiffs lawyers are not going to be attracted.

    Charles G. White, Board Certified Civil Trial Law

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    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulJ View Post
    Yet other states, like Florida, outright make it illegal to go after civil damages if a shooting is found as justified.
    It should be noted that the fact criminal charges are not filed does not mean the the shoot was found to be justified, castle doctrine or not. Even if you do not face a criminal trial you may, indeed, face a civil suit.

    A careful reading of the 'Castle' law may make it advantageous to have a [failed] criminal prosecution so you can then take advantage of the prohibition of civil suits based on justifiable self defense.

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    Member Array 390beretta's Avatar
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    Yes, I did take my CCW at the Scottsdale gun club. Thanks to everyone for your responses.

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    If you get a civil case filed against you, it just does not matter cause the Govn't has a "bail out" plan for that.

    Z
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    A liability umbrella (insurance policy) can be had fairly inexpensively also. Not a bad choice regardless of Castle Laws, Doctrines, or civil liability prohibitions IMHO.
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    Senior Member Array PaulJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock and Glock View Post
    A liability umbrella (insurance policy) can be had fairly inexpensively also. Not a bad choice regardless of Castle Laws, Doctrines, or civil liability prohibitions IMHO.
    I looked at the one the NRA offers. I didn't get it as I find it a bit too limited and expensive (for what it offers). If I remember right, it will only pay your defense expenses after you are found not-guilty. It will not pay any judgment you may have to pay and you will have to come up with the cash to pay the lawyer first.
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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    I sure am glad that I live in Texas.


    CIVIL PRACTICE AND REMEDIES CODE

    TITLE 4. LIABILITY IN TORT

    CHAPTER 83. USE OF DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON

    Sec. 83.001. CIVIL IMMUNITY. A defendant who uses force or deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9, Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant's use of force or deadly force, as applicable.

    Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 235, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
    Amended by:
    Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2007.
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