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The Ultimate Guide to Mass Shooting Claims

Mass shootings are traumatic events that devastate victims, families, and communities. They have become so frequent that we have become numb to the news each time another comes across our news feed.

After mass shootings, victims and their families often face overwhelming emotional trauma and financial burdens. This guide provides comprehensive information on navigating the claims process and seeking compensation for injuries and losses suffered in a mass shooting.

What Constitutes a Mass Shooting?

Mass shootings are incidents involving multiple victims of firearm-related violence. The precise definition varies, and there is no universally accepted standard. However, some common definitions include:

  • FBI Definition: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a mass shooting as an incident involving four or more people shot at once. This does not include the shooter if they were shot or killed.
  • Congressional Research Service Definition: The Congressional Research Service defines mass shootings as multiple homicide incidents in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms, within one event, in one or more locations in close geographical proximity.
  • Gun Violence Archive Definition: The Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization providing public access to data about gun-related violence, defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter.

Common characteristics of mass shootings often include a single perpetrator, the use of firearms, and public locations. However, these incidents can also occur in private settings and may involve multiple perpetrators. Mass shootings differ from other forms of gun violence, such as gang violence, domestic violence, or terrorist attacks, in their motivation, execution, and impact.

While these definitions help us understand and categorize these tragic events, they do not capture the immense pain, suffering, and loss that each incident inflicts on victims, families, and communities. The following sections aim to guide those affected by such incidents in navigating the legal processes that may follow.

The Aftermath of a Mass Shooting

The aftermath of a mass shooting is a period of shock, grief, and confusion for the victims, their families, and the community. The impact is multifaceted, affecting the physical, psychological, social, and economic aspects of those involved.

  • Physical Injuries — Victims of mass shootings often suffer from severe physical injuries that range from gunshot wounds to broken bones and lacerations. Such injuries may require surgeries, hospitalization, physical therapy, and long-term medical care. The road to physical recovery can be long and arduous. The popularity of AR-15 assault rifles, which were created as instruments of war for military use, cause such massive bodily trauma to humans that medical trauma specialists still have difficulty comprehending the enormity of each injury they see.  The ammunition from these assault weapons are specifically designed to do as much internal damage as possible to the target, and they are such high velocity that a single shot can often cause much more damage than multiple shots by a lesser firearm.
  • Psychological Trauma — The psychological impact of being involved in, or losing a loved one to, a mass shooting cannot be overstated. Victims and their families may suffer from depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues. The trauma may affect their ability to work, maintain relationships, and engage in everyday activities.
  • Impact on Families — Families of victims may face a sudden loss of income if the victim was a breadwinner, or they may incur significant expenses due to medical and funeral costs. The emotional toll on families includes the grief of losing loved ones or seeing them suffer and the stress of navigating the legal and claims process.
  • Community Response and Impact — Mass shootings can change the fabric of communities. There is often an outpouring of grief and support, with community vigils, memorials, and fundraising campaigns for victims. However, communities may also experience heightened fear and anxiety, changes in social dynamics, and debates on gun control and mental health issues.  Then, after the news media have moved on to another trauma, the community is left to reflect on their unfathomable loss.
  • Media and Public Attention — Mass shootings often attract significant media attention, which can be both supportive and intrusive. The intense focus can sometimes make it difficult for victims and families to grieve privately. Plus there is often a mass media frenzy at first, then, as if the tide is receding from the beach, the media disappears. We keep hoping that each mass shooting creates a tipping point in this country where gun violence will decrease.  So far our hopes have been dashed….they keep increasing.

Types of Mass Shooting Claims

When pursuing legal recourse for injuries and losses resulting from a mass shooting, several types of claims can be filed:

  • Wrongful Death Claims — If a family member was killed in a mass shooting, surviving family members might file a wrongful death claim. This claim seeks compensation for the loss of companionship, mental pain and suffering, lost income, and funeral expenses, among other losses.
  • Personal Injury Claims — Victims who suffer physical injuries can file personal injury claims to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering (physical and emotional), and lost wages.
  • Emotional Distress Claims — Individuals who were present during the shooting and suffered psychological trauma as a result may file a claim for emotional distress, even if they did not sustain physical injuries.
  • Property Damage Claims — Owners of property damaged during a mass shooting may file claims for the cost of repairs or replacement of property.

Parties That May Be Held Liable

In the wake of a mass shooting, identifying the parties that may be held liable is crucial. Liability can be complicated and may involve multiple parties.

  • The Shooter — The individual who carried out the mass shooting is the primary party responsible. However, the shooter may not always be the sole party liable for damages. They also are unlikely to have any assets with which to pay damages, and in many cases they are incarcerated or dead.
  • Gun Manufacturers and Sellers — In certain cases, gun manufacturers and sellers can be held liable, especially if they negligently sold or marketed firearms used in the shooting. The firearm industry, along with the NRA, have successfully lobbied to have special legal protections passed by the United States Congress, and the legislatures in many states, immunizing them from liability even where they knew their products were being misused.
  • Property Owners and Managers — If a mass shooting occurs in a place such as a shopping mall, school, hotel or workplace, the owners or managers of these properties may be held liable under premises liability if it is found that inadequate security measures contributed to the incident. An example is the 2017 shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas which killed 58 people and wounded 700.  A settlement was reached for $800 million against the Mandalay Bay Resort’s owners arising out of their negligence in allowing the shooter to kill from their hotel.
  • Security Companies — If a security company was contracted to provide security services at the location where the mass shooting occurred — and failed in their duty — they might be held liable.
  • Event Organizers — In cases where a mass shooting occurs during an event, such as a concert or festival, the organizers can be held liable if negligence in security measures is established.
  • Employers — If a mass shooting occurs in a workplace and it is found that the employer neglected to address known threats or maintain a safe environment, they may also be held liable.

Legal Theories in Mass Shooting Claims

When pursuing claims related to mass shootings, several legal theories might be invoked:


Negligence involves proving that a duty of care was owed, that duty was breached, and that the breach resulted in injury or loss. For example, if a property owner failed to provide adequate security measures, and this failure contributed to the mass shooting, they might be found negligent.

Product Liability

This legal theory could be used if there is evidence that a defect in a firearm or accessory contributed to the mass shooting. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) generally shields gun manufacturers from liability for crimes committed with their products. However, gun manufacturers could be held liable if the firearms used were faulty or marketed in a way that contributed to the shooting.

Premises Liability

This holds property owners and occupiers liable for injuries that occur on their property due to inadequate security or failure to address known risks.

Intentional Torts

Intentional torts refer to deliberate actions that cause harm to others. In the context of mass shootings, the shooter’s acts are almost always intentional, as they usually involve a deliberate decision to use a firearm to cause harm or death to multiple individuals. Intentional torts can play a significant role in the case when pursuing legal action in the wake of a mass shooting.

Compensation for Victims

Victims and their families who have suffered due to a mass shooting might be entitled to various forms of compensation to help alleviate the financial burdens and acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by such a tragic event.

Medical Expenses

One of the primary forms of compensation victims may seek is medical expenses. The violent nature of mass shootings often results in catastrophic injuries requiring extensive medical care.

Compensation for medical expenses can include costs associated with emergency room visits, surgeries, hospital stays, prescription medications, physical therapy, and ongoing medical treatment. In cases where victims suffer permanent disabilities, compensation may also cover the costs of long-term care and assistive devices.

Pain and Suffering

In addition to physical injuries, victims of mass shootings often endure significant emotional and psychological trauma. Compensation for pain and suffering considers the mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and psychological effects that a victim may experience. This form of compensation is more subjective than medical expenses and will often depend on the severity and lasting impact of the trauma on the victim’s life.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

The recovery period can be lengthy for those injured in a mass shooting. In some cases, the injuries may prevent the victim from returning to work entirely. Compensation for lost wages helps recover the earnings the victim would have made had they not been injured. In cases of a severe injury that affects a person’s ability to work long-term, victims may also seek compensation for the loss of future earning capacity.

Funeral Expenses

When a victim loses their life in a mass shooting, the family may pursue compensation to cover funeral and burial expenses. These costs can be significant and add to the financial strain on a family already dealing with losing a loved one.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a claim typically made by the spouse or family of a victim severely injured or killed due to a mass shooting. This form of compensation is meant to address the loss of companionship, affection, and support that family members experience when a loved one is severely injured or killed.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be considered in instances where the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious or reckless. These damages serve as a punishment for the defendant and a deterrent for similar conduct in the future. In mass shooting cases, punitive damages might be sought against a third party, such as a negligent security company or a gun seller who illegally sold firearms to the shooter.

Legal Representation in Mass Shooting Claims

In the tumultuous aftermath of a mass shooting, having an attorney is not just important—it is essential. This cannot be stressed enough. The myriad complexities and intricacies of the legal system, coupled with the emotional toll of the tragedy, create a storm that no victim or family should navigate alone.

The Value an Attorney Brings

  • Expert Guidance: Your attorney will be your anchor, guiding you through the choppy waters of the legal process. This is not just any legal process—it’s a path you walk to seek justice for an inconceivable tragedy. The attorney’s expertise is invaluable.
  • Evidence Collection: The foundation of your case rests on evidence. An attorney knows how to diligently collect, preserve, and present evidence that tells your story and cries out for justice.
  • Courtroom Representation: In the hallowed halls of the courtroom, where your story will unfold, an attorney will be your voice. Your attorney will advocate fiercely and passionately on your behalf.
  • Negotiating Settlements: Your attorney will be the bulwark against lowball settlement offers, fighting tenaciously to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Finding the Right Attorney

  • Experience Matters: This is not the time for on-the-job training. Secure an attorney with a proven track record in mass shooting claims. This experience can be a game-changer.
  • Background and References: You are entrusting your quest for justice to this person. Research their background meticulously, get references, and talk to previous clients.
  • Comfort Level: This journey can be long and draining. Make sure you are comfortable with your attorney. They should be someone who understands the law and your pain.

Attorney Fees and Costs

  • Contingency Fee Basis: Many personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, which means their payment is contingent upon winning your case. This arrangement ensures that your attorney is as invested in your case as you are.

Working with Your Attorney

  • Openness and Honesty: Your case is only as strong as the information your attorney has. Be open and honest. Provide them with every piece of information, no matter how insignificant.
  • Communication: Keep the lines of communication open. Be proactive in contacting your attorney and responsive when they reach out to you.

Remember, when seeking justice for something as devastating as a mass shooting, having an attorney by your side is akin to a lighthouse guiding a ship through a storm. The importance of this guiding light, this rock to keep you steady in a sea of legal and emotional turmoil, cannot be overemphasized.

Mass shootings are tragic events that have far-reaching impacts on victims, families, and communities. The legal process following such an event can be complex and overwhelming. It is important for victims and their families to understand their rights and the resources available to them. While no compensation can truly compensate for the loss and trauma experienced, it can provide some measure of relief and justice. If you or a loved one has been affected by a mass shooting, seeking legal representation and support is critical.

Take the First Step Toward Justice Today!

Do not let this moment pass. The wounds are deep and the pain is real. But so is your right to justice and compensation. The time to act is now. Contact our experienced mass shooting lawyers TODAY to begin this crucial journey toward justice. Our team is committed to standing by your side, fighting for your rights, and ensuring that your voice is heard.

This is not just a legal battle – this is about your life, your family, and your community. We will not rest until those who caused this devastation are held accountable.

Do not let the complexity of the legal system deter you. We are here to guide you every step of the way. Your fight is our fight. Let’s take this first step together.

Contact us NOW and let us be your guiding light in the pursuit of justice.


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