Joining a gym is a great way for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle, work on their athletic skills for recreational or professional sports, or get themselves into shape for beach season. As of 2017, there were approximately 60.87 million Americans with gym memberships across approximately 36,000 active gyms and fitness clubs throughout the United States.
Most gyms include a variety of machines and athletic equipment for their members’ use ranging anywhere from stationary bikes to mats to extremely heavy dumbells and weights. If used improperly, members can find themselves in a world of hurt.
On average, approximately 1,500 people end up in the emergency room every year due to an injury sustained while using gym equipment. Much more, however, go unreported or the injuries don’t materialize until several days following a workout that went wrong.
Strained shoulders and knees, as well as hyper-extensions and bruises, are all common injuries, however many others may be much more severe such as broken bones, torn ligaments, or injuries that may result in paralysis or death.
Can I Sue A Gym If I Get Hurt While Working Out?
As is the case with most personal injury and premises liability questions, this really all depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident and the injury.
Included in a gym membership is often a liability waiver that explicitly states to members that they will be exposed to inherent risks such as accidents and injuries that can potentially shield a gym from a decent amount of liability, however, as a premises owner, the gym still has to afford any invitee a standard of care to ensure the safety of their guests.
Although many gym injuries can be attributed to poor form or personal weight lifting mismanagement, there are other scenarios where the gym may be held liable for your injuries and you may be able to acquire money for your medical bills as a result of your injury.
Scenario 1: It’s leg/lower body day and you want to challenge yourself by squatting more weight than you have ever before. You get yourself in position, squat down and attempt to come back up when suddenly you hear a loud pop in your knee that you would later find out is damage to your knee ligaments.
In this scenario, the gym would not be held liable for your injuries. The weight equipment did not malfunction and satisfied the gym’s duty of care while the remaining course of events occurred at the discretion of the member.
Scenario 2: You’re running on the treadmill and try to finish off strong by pushing the machine to maximum speed when, suddenly, the machine turns off and the belt stops abruptly, causing you to lose your footing and injure your ankle.
The gym is responsible for making sure that the equipment is tested and is safe for members to use. Although there is an assumption of risk when using gym equipment, the gym may still be held liable for exposing you to a different risk (IE defective equipment) that you could not have reasonably assumed. So, yes, you may be able to recover compensation in this scenario.
Scenario 3: You’re bench pressing 100 lb dumbells by yourself when a gym employee/trainer approaches to try and “spot” you. When bringing down the dumbells, the trainer loses their grip and your finger is caught and broken by the falling weight.
Normally, weight lifting injuries are part of the assumption of risk that you, as a member, take on when participating in weight lifting activities at the gym. However, because the trainer, who is acting as an agent of the premises, inserted themselves into the activity as the “spotter” to ensure that you were able to safely engage in the activity, it could be possible that a court would find that the trainer acted negligently when they failed to safely secure the weights from falling.
I Was Injured At The Gym. Should I Hire An Injury Lawyer?
If your situation is similar to scenario 2 or scenario 3, then yes, you should absolutely contact an experienced injury lawyer to review your potential case. Hiring an injury lawyer could help recover money for your injuries, your medical bills, and even wages lost from missing work.
Speak to an experienced injury lawyer today to review your legal options.
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As we have seen through these scenarios, a gym’s liability really hinges on their failure to meet their duty of care in terms of equipment and property management. The assumed risk of lifting weights or using machines that have been properly maintained