Airsoft guns are commonly used for sport (similar to paintball) and fire tiny, non-metallic pellets. These pellets are usually made from plastic and travel slower than pellets from a BB gun.
Further, they are usually powered through compressed gas or air containers. Although airsoft guns are generally viewed as safe, they may cause injuries and are regulated by state and federal laws.
What Is a Liability Release Form?
A Release Form (or clause) is a contract signed by the accident victim. The release clause may claim to release a facility or individual from liability for injuries that may arise on the premises or under the person’s care. Nevertheless, these limitations may not apply to the specifics of your case because many states do not consider release forms enforceable.
Liability release forms can occasionally be called by other names, such as a liability waiver. Liability release forms may be used in different contexts and by different parties.
What Is Negligence?
Everyone has heard of a story where someone acted carelessly, someone was hurt, and a lawsuit followed to compensate the injured person. Negligence is the legal theory that authorizes injured individuals to recover for the carelessness of others. A person is negligent if they are careless given the situation’s circumstances.
How Do You Prove Negligence?
Negligence has four primary components that must be shown to recover for injuries. Those parts are duty, breach, causation, and damages. Even if those four elements are shown, and negligence is established, a defense might still mitigate how much a defending party must pay.
A duty is a responsibility one individual owes to another. In general, individuals going about their business owe a duty of ‘reasonable care.’ ‘Reasonable care’ is the care an ordinary and prudent individual would use in the same situation.
For instance, if a person is driving during a rainstorm, they would be exercising ‘reasonable care’ by going slower and having their headlights on to improve visibility. A person would not be exercising ‘reasonable care’ if they were driving forty miles per hour over the speed limit.
A breach happens when an individual’s care falls below the level required by their duty. The individual driving forty miles per hour in the above example breached their duty of reasonable care by driving so fast during a rainstorm.
The breach of duty must be the cause of injury. The legal test for causation is a bit more complicated than that, but the fundamental test is “but for one party’s actions, the injury would not have happened.”
In the above example, if the individual driving too quickly during a rainstorm didn’t have enough time to stop before hitting another car, they have breached their duty of reasonable care which then caused injury to the other vehicle.
In general, there has to be some harm that occurred. The type of injury can vary, from property damage to emotional stress to lost wages.
All of the above need to be present to determine that the other party was successfully negligent. If one of the above cannot be established, then negligence cannot be established.
How Could You Be Injured From an Airsoft Gun?
Even if safety gear is worn during a game or sport using airsoft guns, injuries can still happen.
The following are typical examples of injuries:
- Eye injuries;
- Muscle sprains; and
- Slip and fall injuries.
In most circumstances, the operator or owner of an Airsoft facility instructs participants to sign a waiver or a liability release form. This form relieves the owner of legal liability for injuries that happened during an airsoft game.
Nevertheless, the owner can still be held responsible for injuries caused by their negligence, such as a failure to maintain safe premises, warn the patrons of any hazardous conditions in the arena, or rent defective guns to players.
How Are Airsoft Guns Regulated?
Under federal law, it is legal to use airsoft guns at any age because they are not classified as being a firearm. Nevertheless, federal law requires a person to be at least 18 years of age to purchase an airsoft gun. Many state and local regulations also place a similar age restriction on buying airsoft guns. There are even some importation regulations in place regarding airsoft guns.
Another legal concern regarding airsoft guns is that they often look like real guns. Because of this, an orange marking is normally required to be painted on the tip of the airsoft gun. This is meant to differentiate them from real guns. You could be issued a ticket if you remove this marking.
You also may be charged and convicted of a crime if you use an airsoft gun to attempt criminality. For instance, you could be charged and convicted with assault if you point a gun at someone because they will likely think it was a real gun and fear harm. Another example is that you could be convicted of robbery with a firearm even if you use an airsoft gun to perpetrate the crime.
What Is Assault?
In a criminal law context, the term “assault” generally refers to the criminal act of intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm or offensive contact. Although this definition is subject to change based on the laws of the jurisdiction hearing the case, the standard case for assault is as follows.
The defendant must have planned to create a state of fear or awareness in the victim. Unlike the crime of battery, an accidental act will not give rise to assault charges; it must be intentional.
The prosecutor must demonstrate that the victim reasonably thought they would be harmed or offended by the defendant’s conduct. In other words, the victim must be conscious of or be able to appreciate (i.e., apprehend) the defendant’s potential to harm or offend them.
The victim’s belief of approaching injury must be both reasonable and one that creates a sense of immediate, physical danger. The belief cannot be based on a future act, and it must be more than a verbal threat (note that there are some exceptions).
The defendant must exhibit a present intention to harm or offend the victim through a physical act.
What Are the Elements Required to Prove an Assault?
As discussed above, the elements required to demonstrate assault will typically vary by jurisdiction but generally include that a prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant planned to cause the victim to become aware of or anticipate the possibility that they would suffer imminent harm;
- The victim must reasonably think that the defendant’s conduct would be harmful or offensive to them;
- The victim must also think that the harm was imminent and not just a future threat; and
- The defendant must display some behavior that suggests they are about to physically hurt or do something offensive to the victim.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If an airsoft gun has injured you, you should contact a personal injury attorney about your options for filing a lawsuit. Your attorney can help research the laws for you and can assist you in filing your claim with the court. In addition, you may want to meet with a criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with a crime relating to the possession, purchase, or use of an airsoft gun.