Paintball is a thrilling and challenging game enjoyed by people as young as 8 years of age. However, anyone under 18 years of age must have consent from a parent or legal guardian. Also, younger people play in low-impact games, whereas older players participate with different formats on a more aggressive level. Although the concept is the same, the environment and props vary depending on the facility.
With paintball, one person or a group of people suit up in protective gear before heading out onto the “field.” While one facility may consist of an old warehouse with dirt floors, others are somewhat high-tech. As mentioned, the props vary and can include anything from old tires and refrigerators to pillars and neon-lit walls.
Regardless, the game involves players shooting special non-lethal guns that spit out balls filled with paint. For low-impact games, the speed and intensity are only mild. However, for older players, a hit from a paintball anywhere other than the protective gear can leave a welt, bruise, or slight bleeding and can even lead to a severe injury.
For all participants, regardless of age, all reputable paintball facilities require a signed waiver that prevents them from having legal liability should someone sustain an injury. Although a direct paintball hit on the skin hurts, the two most common injuries involve the eyes and ears, even when wearing head protection. Fortunately, statistics show that only 45 of every 100,000 participants sustain an injury playing paintball.
The most common eye injuries include corneal abrasion, hemorrhaging of the eye, retinal detachment, and swelling and bruising of the retina. As for the ears, issues like tinnitus, damage to the cartilage, concussion, ruptured eardrum, and either partial or permanent hearing loss are the injuries that are most often reported.
If you are the parent of a child or have one under your guardianship that sustained a bad injury from playing paintball, remember that just because the company has a signed waiver does not automatically free it from liability. The following are three scenarios in which you might have legal recourse:
- Non-executed waiver
- Defective or missing protective gear
- No instructions provided prior to play
Depending on the reason for the injury, you might have a potential lawsuit against the paintball facility, as well as a third party. For instance, if the protective goggles shattered or the earpiece broke when hit by a paintball, or for any reason, you could go after the facility and the equipment manufacturer.
If you believe you have a viable reason to sue, it is critical you hire a reputable personal injury attorney, preferably someone with extensive knowledge of paintball injuries. Following your lawyer’s advice, you will know how to proceed. The key in winning a case such as this comes down to evidence.
Your attorney will gather pertinent information, request a copy of the signed waiver, talk to witnesses, obtain all medical reports, and more. With everything combined, he or she can determine if the facility or a third party have any liability for the player’s injury. In addition to getting any medical bills covered, you might also have a case for pain and suffering.