With the end of the year quickly approaching, it won’t be long before gyms and fitness centers see their big influx of new and returning members. While the new year presents a great opportunity for people to set new goals and work on getting in shape, it’s important that they do so in a safe environment. Unfortunately, thousands of people sustain injuries at the gym every year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), nearly 460,000 people in the U.S. went to the hospital for injuries related to exercise equipment in 2012. In 2014, 24,400 people were treated specifically for treadmill-related injuries.
What happens if you are injured at a gym? Can the gym owner be held liable for your injuries? Those answers depend on how the injury occurred. The property owner and operators are responsible for maintaining safe spaces and ensuring equipment is safe to use. However, it is the participant’s responsibility to follow all safety instructions and to monitor their own physical activity.
Did You Sign a Waiver?
Nearly every gym you enter in the U.S. will require you to sign a waiver in order to use the facilities. These waivers likely include language that states the member waives his or her right to sue in the event of an injury. Often, waivers also state that the gym is not liable for injuries resulting from negligence on their part.
The language of the waiver could end up being a crucial part of your claim. Here are a few examples of how a gym waiver might be worded:
Waiver of liability for negligence. It is quite common for a gym waiver to include language that states the gym is not liable for injuries caused by negligence on the part of the gym or its employees.
Total waiver of liability. The waiver might state that the gym is not liable for any injuries that occur on the premises. The courts could very likely consider this type of all-encompassing waiver to be unenforceable.
Waiver of liability for intentional acts. Some waivers even include language that indicates the business is not liable for harm that was intentionally inflicted by a gym employee. These waivers are generally not enforceable.
While California does allow gyms to utilize waivers to release them from liability for some negligent acts, waivers must meet certain requirements to be enforceable. For one, the waiver must be unequivocal, meaning it must clearly explain that the participant is waiving their right to sue the gym for injuries resulting from negligence. California law states that a liability release must be clear and unambiguous, and cannot be hidden within a lengthy document or otherwise difficult to find. Additionally, the waiver can only cover the gym for risks that are reasonably related to the subject of the release.
It’s important to note that a gym cannot escape liability for gross negligence through the use of a waiver. Waivers that try to release a business from gross negligence go against public policy in California, and are therefore unenforceable. Of course, it is difficult to clearly define gross negligence, and your attorney would need to prove that the actions of the gym constituted gross negligence. What is the distinction? Whereas negligence is often an oversight that the responsible party failed to address, gross negligence implies the reckless lack of concern for the consequences of an act.
Defective Exercise Equipment
While it might be difficult to hold a gym liable for injuries resulting from defective equipment, you may be able to make a products liability claim against the manufacturer or retailer of the equipment. If you were injured because a piece of exercise equipment was defectively designed or manufactured, you may be able to recover compensation in a products liability claim.
If you have been injured at the gym due to negligence or a defective product, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you determine who might be liable for your injury, and will work on your behalf to secure fair compensation for your damages.
“Unfortunately, waivers often deter people from pursuing personal injury claims, even when they are unenforceable. If you have been injured at a gym, it is worth consulting with a personal injury attorney to learn about your options,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.
Our firm has been handling a variety of personal injury cases throughout the California High Desert communities for over 30 years. Here you will find a personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries.