Texas Church Victims Want to Sue, but Would it be Worth it?

On the morning of November 4, 2017, a seemingly normal Sunday morning for the residents of Sutherland Springs, a rural town east of San Antonio, a lone gunman clad in all black opened fire in the First Baptist Church. The service began at 11 am, and not long after the final parishioner had taken his seat, the first shots were fired. 23 people were killed within a span of 20 minutes; two died outside of the church and one later died in the hospital. 20 more were wounded.

The gunman, Devin Kelly, used an AR-15, which are covered by the federal assault weapons ban of 1994. In 2004, the ban expired, and since then, the country has seen a surge in the purchase of the semiautomatic riflea. The weapon is dangerous in just about anyone’s hands, but when placed of the hands of someone like Kelly with a known violent history, such a weapon can be deadly.

Air Force Messes Up in a Big Way

Apparently, Kelly was convicted five years ago of assaulting his then wife and stepson while he was in the Air Force. He was court-martialed and banned from ever possessing a firearm again. Yet, the Air Force failed to relay this information to the civilian world, and when he was no longer active in the service, he was able to purchase an assault rifle with ease.

In a statement made on November 7, the Air Force admitted that it had failed to enter that pertinent information into the database used to conduct background checks for firearms purchases. It also went on to admit that there are dozens of cases of serious crimes that stemmed from the failure of its personnel to report to the federal database.

Family Sues for Negligence

On Tuesday, November 28, Joe and Claryce Holcombe filed the first lawsuit against the U.S. government. Their son, Bryan Holcombe, was shot in the back on his way to the front of the church, his only crime being that he was going to lead the congregation in worship. The family lost eight other family members on that tragic day.

Victims of the tragedy have approximately 60 days from the date of the incident to file a legal claim, if it is the U.S. Government they want to sue for damages. While victims and their families can file a claim against Kelly’s estate, chances of them receiving a payout are minimal; even if his estate can afford to pay victims, the most any one family is bound to see hovers in the couple hundred dollar range, not nearly enough to compensate them for their damages, pain, suffering, and losses.

Most Dallas personal injury lawyers know that the battle will not be an easy one for the Holcombes and other families who choose to file. However, with a strong attorney on their side, they have a chance, and if they can prevail, it will set a precedence for the armed forces, namely, adhere to regulations.

When a Strong Personal Injury Attorney can Help

If you believe that you have a personal injury claim—whether against the U.S. government or an individual third party—a skilled Dallas personal injury lawyer can help. At Clark Law Group, we make it a point to thoroughly assess the circumstances of each case and determine whether or not it is worth your time to pursue a legal claim. If we determine that yes, it is, we will dedicated our full attention to ensuring that you get nothing but a positive outcome. Schedule a consultation with our team today to get started.

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