Daughter injured at Laser Tag...
On Saturday, January 25th, my daughter, aged 10, attended a birthday party at a local (Northern Virginia) Laser Tag venue, and had one of her upper incisors broken in half after being struck in the mouth by another player's rifle. We called the location the next business day, and they told me they filed an incident report and would have their HQ follow up.
After waiting almost 4 weeks, I called their corporate offices again last Friday, February 21st. After some time, they managed to indeed 'find' the incident report. When asked why I had not been contacted by management, I was informed that it had "fallen through the cracks," BUT they would send it "up the chain of command" and that the CEO, who was out last Friday, would call me before 5PM Monday the 24th. I never received a call.
Today I called and asked for Mike, the gentleman who took my call the previous Friday. His answer was as follows:
- Nothing we can do for you
- We cannot share the incident report with you, it is internal to the company
- Acknowledged that we had never signed a waiver
- Told me they had lobby signage regarding 'at your own risk' and 'liability'
- That players watched a safety video before stepping into the game.
On the latter two, I pressed on the lack of any waiver or release from us, and that my daughter's adult parents were not present to see the signage, and reminded him that she was TEN YEARS OLD.
I believe there is strong case law that signage and video, observed (or not) by a minor does not release such a facility from liability or settlement. This is a prominent tooth with a temporary fix. As she grows she will have both cosmetic and functional challenges, and may wind up with implants, etc. It is not uncommon to see settlements in excess of $50K from what I can tell.
I am seeking some opinions, advice, and references to case law. I would like to send them something from me personally before escalating and lawyering up. They own a string of entertainment centers and have most certainly previously settled similar claims.
Finally, should we file a police report? Thanks for any information you can give.
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ANSWER for "Daughter injured at Laser Tag...":
Clayton (Ashburn, VA):
From the facts you present, the liable party is not the laser tag company, but instead the parents of the child who injured you with the laser tag gun.
Under the circumstance, the laser tag company doesn’t appear to have been negligent. The company had a legal duty to make their premises safe for children, and others who may have been legally on the premises. Their duty included making sure the floors weren’t slippery, the laser tag guns didn’t discharge improperly, or otherwise eliminating danger under their control.
You are correct saying signs stating “...at your own risk” do not exculpate the laser tag company from liability, but that liability will not extend to injuries caused by a third party. In your son’s case, that would be the young person who accidentally discharged the laser tag gun, or otherwise caused it to injure your daughter.
In almost all cases, parents are liable for the negligent acts of their children. Contact the parents of the child. In many cases, accidents like the one in question are covered under a homeowners insurance policy. Under homeowners insurance you will not have to prove negligence. All you will have to show is that your daughter was injured by a member of the policy holder's household.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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