Although the safety of workout equipment is constantly improving, the reality is that doing any sort of physical activity involves a degree of risk. Working out at a gym is no different. Lifting heavy weights can damage ligaments. Running on a treadmill can cause a fall. Getting overconfident during a yoga class can lead to torn muscles. In some circumstances a person injured at a gym may have the option to sue the gym for contributing to the injury.
The limits of a gym’s responsibilities
Before considering how a gym might have legal responsibility for a member’s injuries it’s important to examine the principles that protect gyms from liability. Here are two important examples:
- Any gym that expects to stay open long will require its members to sign liability waivers. To be enforceable a waiver needs to have a few features. First, it must be clearly worded. Second, it can only cover events that are reasonably foreseeable at the time the person signs it. For example, a gym’s liability waiver may disclaim responsibility for injuries caused by a member using weight equipment, but if the member is injured because equipment breaks, that may not be covered by the waiver.
- Assumption of risk. Even if a liability waiver doesn’t cover the specific activity that caused an injury, the gym may be able to rely upon the member’s assumption of risk to escape responsibility for some or all of the injury. A person is deemed to assume the risk of an injury if the person is voluntarily engaging in an activity that the person knows or should know carries a degree of risk. A liability waiver may include language expressly requiring the member to confirm that he or she is assuming the risk of injury by participating in gym activities.
When a gym may be held responsible
There are two principle ways a gym can find itself liable for a member’s injuries:
- Premises liability. As operations open to the public gyms owe a high degree of care toward members to ensure that the gym facilities are safe for use. They are expected to take steps to verify the safety of their equipment and spaces, and take action to remedy dangerous conditions should they arise. These principles can capture a range of potential hazards. The most clear-cut are cases where equipment is not properly maintained and breaks as a consequence. Potentially less obvious is if a gym doesn’t attend to a slippery condition on the floor, such as if someone spills a drink or vomits. Bear in mind that in such cases the gym may have a defense available that relies on the inherently “messy” environment of gyms, where water and sweat are common hazards that patrons know to watch for.
- Negligence by employees. Businesses like gyms are also responsible for injuries caused by conditions that are the result of actions taken or not taken by their employees. A trainer who pushes a patron too hard might create liability, especially if the trainer doesn’t take reasonable steps to respond to the injury.
GGRM represents injured clients in the Las Vegas area
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients get compensated for their injuries. If you have been injured at a gym and would like to examine your legal options, we are happy to answer questions. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.