Our Panama City injury lawyer knows that hunting accidents are all too common. For many, hunting is more of a lifestyle than a hobby, and many take pride in feeding their friends and families during the holidays and throughout the year. However, hunting can be dangerous. Injuries or fatalities can stem from negligent handing of dangerous weapons, failure to follow safety regimens, or a products liability issue involving a rifle or even a piece of safety equipment. In rare cases, hunting injuries can also stem from intentional misdeeds.
This week, WJGH shared the story of Liberty County Judge Ken Hosford. An avid hunter, Judge Hosford (profiled on the Florida court system's website) had travelled to Kentucky for an annual deer hunting trip. He noticed that the deer stand he was in began to feel unstable as the winds began to pick up throughout the morning hours. Hosford put his rifle down and opened the stand door to find that one support beam was sawn completely through and the second was barely holding. While he was watching, the second beam cracked, dropping Hosford from the stand to the ground in a headfirst fall. The incident left the Judge with a fractured collar bone, chipped vertebrae, multiple cracked ribs, and a severe concussion.
According to police, the tree stand fall was more than a typical accident. They believe that someone deliberately cut the support beams for the stand over the summer. Police do have a lead, but worry it may be difficult to prove the case. However, despite the fact that there seems to be clear fault in the case, Hosford notes that safety checks could have prevented the fall. He told reporters that he would likely have identified the tampered beams if he completed a check of the stand upon arriving the prior afternoon.
George Warthen, the Florida Wildlife Regional Hunting Coordinator, seconded Hosford's sentiment, noting that safety checks and other precautions should always be a top priority. In addition to inspections, tree stand accidents can be prevented by the use of a full body harness or full body arrest systems. Wearing such a device can keep a hunter safe from a tree stand accident for the entire time he or she is off the ground. The use of harnesses and similar devices has helped to reduce the number of tree stand accidents in recent years.
A single accident can change a life forever, or even end a life prematurely. We encourage all hunters to take every safety precaution to ensure their own well-being and that of others. Safety regrets are much worse than missing a shot. Still, even the most diligent hunter or bystander can be the victim of a faulty product or be injured by someone else's negligence. An injured victim can still have a civil claim even if, in retrospect, the victim could have taken additional safety measures. If you suffered injury or lost a loved one in a Panama City hunting accident, please call our Northwest Florida personal injury law firm.