The unintentional discharge of a handgun hidden inside a donated clothing item recently left a thrift store worker dead. Investigators deemed it an accidental death, but the news article suggests that the workplace environment could be considered “hazardous.”
Though this death was an accident, it’s important for gun owners—as well as store owners—to be aware of their legal duty of care to those around them.
Self-protection ranks high as a reason that Texans maintain firearms. But the protection of personal property and one’s safety does not trump the need for common sense and compliance with the duty of reasonable care to the public.
So what is the duty of reasonable care that a Texas gun owner owes to someone?
The most basic answer lies with the location and purpose of the visit.
For instance, a homeowner owes a duty to his visitors to act reasonably. This may seem obvious, but a homeowner must not intentionally or recklessly inflict harm on his or her guests.
In general, a business owner owes an even higher duty to the shop’s business guests. The same duty is not as high to someone coming in for a non-shopping purpose, such as to use the restrooms. Having the status of “invitee”—the legal term for someone doing business with the store or property owner—entitles a shopper to a higher duty of care than even a dinner guest.
In the case of the accidental death in the thrift store, the owner and any employee who should have been aware of the gun’s presence may be held responsible. The person donating the item of clothing could also be liable for not foreseeing injury from a hidden loaded gun.
If you are a Texas or Houston resident who has suffered a gunshot wound, you may have legal rights to recovery for medical bills, lost time from work, and other losses. Speak to a Houston gunshot injury attorney for more information.