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Who Is Liable after a Mass Shooting?


On February 14, 2018, 17 students and teachers tragically lost their lives in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While money will never make up for the lives lost or the trauma experienced that day, there are certain damages that can be recovered. That’s why injured survivors and the families of those who died are entitled to seek civil compensation.

But, who, exactly, is liable for those damages?

Potential Defendants in Parkland Shooting Lawsuits

There have already been multiple lawsuits filed in the wake of the Parkland shooting. These lawsuits illustrate who might be liable for the injuries and deaths caused by a mass shooting:

  • One man, who lost his 18-year-old daughter in the shooting, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against gunman Nikolas Cruz and former Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson (among others). Peterson, the school’s resource officer at the time, failed to enter the school during the shooting. Peterson resigned after video footage showed that he stayed outside and didn’t confront the shooter.
  • The father is also suing the family that Cruz was living with when he attacked the high school and health officials who the father says knew about Cruz’s mental health issues and should have known he posed a threat to others.
  • Families of two of the victims are suing Smith & Wesson, the company that manufactured the weapon that Cruz used during the shooting.
  • Other survivors are shooting the school, the local sheriff’s office and the FBI for not doing enough to prevent the shooting. Specifically, the FBI missed two tips about the gunman before the shooting took place.

These are not the only potential types of wrongdoers in a mass shooting. An experienced attorney can examine the facts of your case and help determine who is liable for your injuries or loss.

Filing a Wrongful Death or Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida

The deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida is two years from the date of the death, and the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of the injury. Remember that Florida is a comparative fault state and damages are apportioned among wrongdoers according to their percentage of fault. However, it’s unlikely that a jury would find mass shooting victims even partially at fault for their injuries.

How Much Can I Receive in Damages?

There are two types of damages available in personal injury cases: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are designed to make the victim whole. This might mean compensation for medical expenses or compensation for the pain and suffering that the victim experienced. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer.

Florida does not limit the amount of compensatory damages available in personal injury cases. However, Florida does place a cap on available punitive damages. The amount cannot exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, or $500,000.

Contact Us Today

Contact a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you were injured or lost a loved one in a mass shooting. We will develop an effective legal strategy to recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical costs, funeral expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.





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