A neighbor two units down from me discharged a firearm inside the unit and the bullet went through both of our units and ended up in mine. If either of us had been using the bathroom we may have been killed. Is there any legal action that we can take or anything that we can pursue?
Can I sue my neighbor if he fired a gun and a bullet goes through my wall and almost kills me?
2It might be easier to just talk to your neighbor, show him the damage, and ask him to take care of it per your specifications. Most gun owners, the VAST majority, will feel great shame in damaging property and putting others at risk. If he's a low life it might make sense to initiate legal proceedings. In my experience in dealing with gun owners, however, he will do whatever is necessary to make his wrong right (or, less wrong in this case) and keep the law and courts out of it.– acpilotSep 11, 2020 at 17:57
Are you living in an apartment building?– hszmvJan 3 at 16:27
Yes. You can file a police report. You can also sue for cost of repairing any damaged property.
Will this cost me money to pursue? Sep 11, 2020 at 3:04
2Filing a police report shouldn't. Suing might. Sep 11, 2020 at 3:07
@IronGorilla: No... this is why you pay taxes. That said, since it's a crime, you're not going to be a party to the trial (since only the state can be the party to criminal cases and you won't have much say in pre-trial negotiations. And you won't be able to recover damages (I'm not seeing this as a major money making case.). That said, it will likely result in your neighbor losing his ability to own guns at all, which if he's that irresponsible, he definitely should lose that right.– hszmvJan 3 at 16:26
Yes for the damage to your property, maybe for almost shooting you.
You could, of course, sue for the cost of repairing the damage caused to your property by your neighbor.
Whether you could also sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress is a bit more complicated. The relevant test in many jurisdictions is the "zone of danger rule", which requires that the plaintiff was
- "placed in immediate risk of physical harm" by the defendant's negligence
- frightened by the risk of harm.
The exact details vary by jurisdiction (more information here with some examples here, and many substantially restrict such claims, but in all jurisdictions that use this rule, you must at least be in immediate risk of physical harm. The second article I linked gives an example of someone in the back of a defective elevator being found to be outside the "zone of danger" due to not being close enough to the doors have sustained harm.
In your case, it's hard to know for sure how a court would rule, but your odds of prevailing on such a claim are substantially lower if the bullet did not pass fairly close to you. For instance, if you heard the sound and only upon investigating realized that a bullet had gone through the apartment, that would not count.