According to recent report from ABC News 13, a North Carolina man was killed in a hunting accident when his friend allegedly shot him with a crossbow. The two men were deer hunting on private property when one hunter had mistaken his friend for a deer.
The hunters were wearing camouflage and not blaze orange. However, under North Carolina law, during archery bow season, hunters are not required to wear blaze orange, as they are during rifle season. The apparent logic behind this regulation is that a hunter will be much closer to a deer when shooting with a bow, as opposed to a gun, where it is more likely that a fellow hunter could be mistaken for a deer.
As of this time, charges have not been filed against the hunter, and authorities have stated that, at least for now, they are treating this as an accident pending further investigation.
Our Winston-Salem personal injury lawyers understand that there is a higher standard of proof required in a criminal case than in a civil case. In a criminal case, the government has the burden of proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt. While there is not a mathematical formula to determine what is a reasonable doubt, it is best expressed as if you have a reason to doubt.
In a civil case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that it is more likely than not that defendant was liable for plaintiff’s injuries.
The reason this matters is that prosecutors will hesitate to file charges if they do not believe they will be able to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean that an accident for which no charges are filed was not caused by a negligent act for which a civil case could be filed.
In a North Carolina personal injury case, negligence is defined as the breach of a duty of care that caused a foreseeable injury to a foreseeable plaintiff. In the case of this hunting accident, there no doubt that one hunter carrying a deadly weapon has a duty to act as a reasonable and prudent person to avoid shooting another hunter.
Whether that duty of care was breached when another hunter is injured depends on the facts surrounding the incident. If the hunter did not exercise proper care, and did not act in a responsible and safe manner, then his or her conduct could be considered negligent.
Once a duty and breach of that duty has been established, the next element that must be established is causation. In our legal system, causation is further broken down into actual and proximate cause. Basically, did the negligent act cause the injury to plaintiff? If the answer is yes, and in these types of cases it normally is, the final element that must be proven is what damages were suffered by plaintiff.
In a wrongful death case, typical damages include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, special damages, and, in some cases, if there was a surviving spouse, loss of consortium.
Contact the Winston-Salem injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Hunting Accident Kills One, September 22, 2014, ABC News 13
More Blog Entries:
NC Court of Appeals Halts Case for Finding of Contributory Negligence, Aug. 5, 2014, Rock Hill Injury Lawyer Blog