Does either of these injured people deserve monetary compensation from the gym’s insurance policy?
• Joseph, age 60
Joseph didn’t consider himself coordinated or athletic, and he’d never considered joining the gym before now. However, when the doctor detected signs of heart disease and prescribed some critical lifestyle changes, Joseph took the advice to heart. The gym that Joseph joined was not fancy, and the machines had been packed very close together. Patrons had to squeeze past each other to avoid the machinery. Joseph, not knowing about safety regulations around spacing machines, didn’t mind the cozy environment. Besides, the price was right.
As Joseph was jogging on the treadmill one day in his first week of gym membership, the towel from another gym member flicked onto the treadmill near Joseph’s feet. A more coordinated person might have hopped over the towel, but Joseph was caught off guard. In his effort to avoid the towel, he stumbled off the treadmill and fell, breaking his ankle and suffering a concussion. As a result of the injuries, Joseph had a pile of medical fees. In addition, he’d missed eight days of work.
• Abby, age 15
Abby, age 15, was on the local high school basketball team. As the season progressed, first one, and then several girls complained of strained necks and twisted lower backs. The injuries were bad enough that the girls’ doctors had prescribed expensive physical therapy, and the girls could not practice with the team.
Abby’s mother realized that there was a pattern emerging among the teammates. After some detective work, she traced all the team’s injuries back to the local gym.
The team had received a group discount to train with an athletic trainer from the gym leading group sessions. The “trainer,” who turned out to be only partially qualified, used too much weight with the young girls. In addition, he had failed to notice or correct the girls’ weightlifting form, which naturally deteriorated as they became fatigued.
Abby and her teammates were accustomed to the ‘no pain; no gain’ mentality. They thought gym workouts were meant to hurt, so they had pushed themselves as hard – or harder than – what the trainer required. Besides, the girls had signed gym waivers. Do the girls have any right to compensation from the gym owner?
The Skinny on Gym Owner’s Responsibilities
Whether you’re a gym rat or a newbie, if you get injured while at the gym, you may have the right to monetary compensation. Compensation might help you recover lost wages, medical fees and help you recover from unnecessary pain and suffering.
Gym owners are liable if their negligent behavior causes a gym member to get hurt. Some of the most common contributors to gym injuries caused by negligence include:
- Faulty gym equipment (lack of regular maintenance, improper installation, installation too close to walls or other equipment, recalled or outdated equipment)
- Gym equipment stored in a hazardous manner (heavy free weights stored above waist level, free weights or barbells on the floor as a trip hazard)
- Negligent or untrained employees
- Irresponsible or dangerous gym members
- Slip and fall hazards (poor lighting, wet tiles, lack of proper handrails on stairs)
Personal Trainer Liability
Personal trainers are responsible for instructing their clients to perform exercises that will not injure the clients. Some personal trainers are gym employees, while other personal trainers contract with the gym to use the space. A personal injury lawyer will help you understand your particular situation. Depending on the legal contracts already in play, a lawyer may need to help you know if liability belongs to the gym owner, the personal trainer, or yourself. In some instances, liability is shared or divided between multiple individuals or groups.
Many people hold the mistaken notion that signing a gym waiver means that you can never sue whoever issued the waiver. Whether it’s a gym, a fun park, your dentist, go-karts, or a tattoo parlor, a signed release does not mean that you give up all legal rights to sue for negligence.
Signed waivers will only protect a gym from being sued if the gym is living up to its end of the bargain. In other words, you can’t sue a gym for unforeseen outcomes, such as if you have a heart attack while on the premises or if you get hurt because you are ignoring posted safety regulations. You can’t sue a gym if you aren’t living up to your side of the bargain, so to speak.
But you can sue a gym if they fail to live up to their end of the bargain by neglecting to remove hazards or warn clients about hazards in the gym area. A signed waiver doesn’t give a gym or any other business establishment the right to abuse clients or place them in dangerous situations without fully disclosing the dangers in advance.
Both Joseph, age 60, and Abby, age 15, could make successful claims to their respective gyms for compensation for their injuries. Our Las Vegas accident attorneys can help you negotiate with the gym ownership and their insurance carriers, collect the necessary evidence, and offer advice in the situation of a settlement offer. When you go into a gym, whether young or old, fit or just starting, you have the right to a safe environment, free from unmarked hazards or defective equipment, and managed and staffed by honest, qualified professionals.