Will I be held liable regarding an accidental injury that my son caused during a sword fight?
Question Details: I have a neighbor who is 20 years old and is in possesion of 2 samurai katana swords. My 17 year old son who lives with me, went to the neighbor's house. The 20 year old asked my son if he wanted to swordfight with 1 of the 2 katanas. My son said, "Sure". They were 10 minutes into the swordfight and his hand slipped and cut into the neighbor's left pinky finger, deep into the tendon. The neighbor got assistance with his hand at the emergency room and he has to go see a plastic surgeon this week to get the tendons fixed. I want to know if there will be any charges pressed against my son. The neighbor made it known that he willingly allowed my son to play with the katana and swordfight. The neighbor made it clear he was responsible. Will the 20 year old neighbor sue me and my son? Can charges be filed on both of us?
If the person who was cut was the one who was voluntarily swordfighting, you and your son should not be liable for his injuries or medical costs. When someone voluntarily engages in a dangerous act, he "assumes the risk" of the normal sorts of injuries, harm, etc. that can occur during it. Being cut is normal risk of fighting with blades; therefore, your neighbor took that risk and cannot sue.
It is possible that your son could face a disorderly persons charge or two: 1) in most states, engaging in a fight, even by mutual consent, is disorderly conduct; 2) engaging in dangerous activity can be disorderly conduct; and 3) depending on your state's laws, it may be illegal to use such swords (some states outlaw them). None of these charges are serious, but they are possible. The authorities may not bring any, if the "victime" doesn't want them, but be advised of the possibiity.
On a martial, not legal, note: I am a veteran martial artist with some experience with using katanas (swords are not my main discipline, but I have had some training). If the katanas have any sort of any edge on them, your son and his neighbor are lucky to not be much more seriously hurt or dead. The first time I wielded a katana, I cut cleanly and effortlessly through a bamboo pool wrappted in a thick mat, which simulated the resistance to cutting of a human arm. Someone could have lost have a limb or had a throat cut; and even blunt blades are quite capable of causing a depressed skull fracture. If you son really wants to use/learn swords, let him take a kenjutuso or iajutsu class taught by a professional, where there are safety measures taken, or else let him take up fencing, which is fun and safe.