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Written on 27th February 2024 by Claire Roantree

Boyes Turner’s personal injury claims team secured a compensation settlement for a woman who suffered second-degree burns from a grenade explosion in an airsoft game.

Our client was injured whilst playing airsoft, a team-based shooting game, in a warehouse-style building at an airsoft venue. The game took place indoors.

Airsoft venue waiver cannot avoid liability for negligently caused personal injury

Our client was given a safety briefing and had to sign a waiver to be allowed to participate in the game. The waiver included a clause which purported to exclude any liability for claims arising from injuries suffered during the airsoft game.  Under English law, such clauses are regarded as unfair contract terms and cannot be relied upon to avoid liability for negligently caused personal injury or death.

Grenade sold at airsoft venue caused second-degree burn injury

A shop at the venue sold game accessories, including pyrotechnic devices, including grenades, which although specified for outdoor use, were also available for use in the indoor airsoft games.

During the game, a grenade was thrown and landed on the floor next to our client. It exploded and burned a hole through her trousers, causing a burn injury to her lower leg.

She tried to treat the burn with cold water which was available on site but did not receive any further first aid treatment from the venue. She was taken to the accident and emergency department (A&E/ED) at a local hospital, where her injuries were assessed as second-degree burns. This type of burn is also known as a ‘partial thickness’ burn, which damages both the first (epidermis) and second (dermis) layers of skin.  

In A&E, the burn was cleaned and the dead skin covering the burn area was removed (debridement). Her wound was then dressed and she was discharged home. She had to return to hospital and then to her GP multiple times for her wound dressings to be changed.  Her partner is a registered first aider and eventually took over the regular changing of her wound dressings at home.

Our client continued to suffer pain and discomfort when walking or weight bearing on her leg for eight weeks after the accident. She needed help with bathing, showering and other daily activities. She could not return to work for several weeks after the accident.

She made a good recovery from her burn injury but was left with scarring which flares up and becomes red and purple in colour when in water, such as when showering.  She was advised to massage and moisturise the healed burn area regularly to reduce discolouration of the skin.  She has to avoid direct exposure of the area of the burn to the sun and uses high sun protection factor (SPF) sunblock on the healed burn area whenever she is out in the sun. She avoids wearing dresses, skirts and shorts as she is self-conscious about the scarring.

Claiming compensation for burn injury

Following the accident, and the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation, the airsoft venue no longer permits the use of pyrotechnics on its premises.

We helped our client make a claim for compensation from the airsoft company and secured an admission of liability (responsibility) from their insurers for our client’s injury. We obtained a report from a medical expert plastic surgeon and served this on the insurers together with a schedule of our client’s financial loss and invited the insurers to enter into settlement negotiations. The case concluded with an out-of-court settlement.

Boyes Turner have been recognised for supporting survivors of burns and scars and are on the first panel of solicitors for The Katie Piper Foundation. The Katie Piper Foundation was founded in December 2009 by Katie Piper following her own severe burn injury experience. The Foundation assists with rehabilitation and supports survivors’ mental wellbeing as well as their physical health.

If you have been seriously injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, and you would like to find out more about funded rehabilitation or making a claim, you can talk to one of our experienced solicitors, free and confidentially, by contacting us here.