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No Pain, No Gain? Who is Liable for Gym Accidents & Injuries?

With summer right around the corner, many people are hitting the gym to improve their health and tone up ahead of endless summer beach and pool days. However, in the rush to get fit quickly, the potential danger of fitness club accidents is ever-present.

Dangerous facility conditions, neglected equipment, untrained staff, and inexperienced or over-zealous gym-goers can all lead to serious injuries – some with lifelong consequences. Health club patrons expect their workout facilities to be safe and well-maintained. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to a research article published in the National Institute of Health, gym accidents are commonly caused by:

  • Overexertion / strenuous exercise

  • Crush injuries from dropped weights

  • Awkward landings while exercising

  • Physical contact with another person

  • Trip & fall / slip & fall accidents

  • Group exercise injuries

  • Motorized cardiovascular equipment injuries

  • Equipment failures

According to WebMD, the most common injuries sustained in fitness center accidents include:

  • Muscle pulls & strains

  • Sprained ankles

  • Shoulder injuries

  • Knee injuries

  • Shin splints

  • Tendonitis

  • Wrist sprains & dislocations

If something goes wrong and you are injured at the health club, what can you do about it? The answer depends on whether you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, or your own. If someone else was at fault, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim to hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries, including compensation for your damages. After all, you shouldn’t have to pay for medical bills or suffer a loss of income due to someone else’s negligence.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Carpenter & Zuckerman have been representing injury victims for more than 27 years. We can analyze the evidence in your gym accident case and fight to hold the at-fault party liable for your injuries. Call (310) 273-1230 or contact us online today for a FREE case evaluation.

What to Do After a Gym Accident

The steps you take in the immediate aftermath of a health club accident – or any accident – can determine whether or not you have the evidence necessary to file a successful personal injury claim and recover compensation for your damages. Follow the helpful guidelines below if you are injured in a fitness center accident:

  • Call 911 if you need emergency care

  • Do not admit fault or give too many details as the scene

  • File an incident report with the gym’s management immediately

  • Record every detail you can remember, including the equipment you used

  • Take photos of the scene, including trip/slip hazards and broken equipment

  • Take photos of your injuries at the scene, and again 24-48 hours later

  • Gather contact information from accident witnesses

  • Obtain a medical evaluation as soon as possible after the accident

  • Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney prior to speaking with an insurance agent

Accident injuries may not seem severe immediately, but can worsen in the hours and days following the incident. Remember to take it easy; do not try to simply “walk it off,” as you may end up injuring yourself further in the process.

Who Is Liable for Gym Accidents and Injuries?

In California, gym-goers are protected by premises liability law. Specifically, Civil Code Section 1714 states that everyone is responsible to protect visitors to their property from injury through the ordinary care and management of that property. Gym-goers have a right to expect a reasonable level of safety when they utilize a fitness center.

Business owners, including gymnasiums, must take proactive steps to inspect the entire fitness center for hazards, including the equipment, which poses a substantial danger to patrons when not properly maintained. Owners and operators must take immediate action when it becomes clear that a repair is necessary. The gym owners/operators have a responsibility to warn club users of the hazard and to prevent use of the damaged equipment until it is repaired by certified personnel.

4 Keys to Proving Negligence & Establishing Liability in a Gym Accident

To establish a fitness club owner/operator’s liability, you must prove that they acted negligently by demonstrating the following:

  1. Duty of Care - The gym owner/operator owed you a basic duty of care as a patron or official visitor of the facility.

  2. Breach in Duty of Care - The gym owner/operator breached their duty of care. For example, they may have failed to restrict access to a broken piece of equipment or neglected to hire a certified fitness instructor to teach a group exercise class. 

  3. Breach in Duty of Care Caused Injury - The gym owner/operator’s breach in duty of care directly caused your injuries. This can be established using documentation such as an incident report, photographs of the scene and your injuries, and the report from your post-accident medical evaluation. 

  4. Harm Suffered as a Result of Breach - You were harmed as a result of the gym owner/operator’s breach in duty of care. For example, you can show the total cost of your medical care, or demonstrate that you lost income due to time off work resulting from your injury.

I Signed a Waiver: Is the Gym Protected from Liability?

Health club owners/operators can be held responsible for injuries caused by their own negligence. In most cases, this applies whether or not you signed a liability waiver. However, health club owners and operators are not automatically liable for every injury that occurs on the premises. The following examples demonstrate two scenarios — one in which the gym would likely be found liable, and the other in which they would not:

  • Gym Likely Liable
    If you were injured while using a broken piece of equipment, and you can demonstrate that the gym was fully aware of the issue and failed to take the appropriate action to repair the machine or warn patrons of the danger, they would likely be held liable for your injuries.

  • Gym Not Liable
    If you hired a personal trainer who was not affiliated with or insured by the fitness center, and you were injured while following that individual’s instruction, you would need to file a personal injury claim against the private trainer, rather than the fitness center.

It is very important that you provide your personal injury lawyer with a copy of any waiver you signed releasing the gym and its owners/operators from liability.

Can I Be Held Responsible for Causing My Own Injuries? 

A gym’s owner or operator can be held liable for your injuries provided that you acted reasonably and used the gym space and equipment the way it was intended to be used. However, if the defendant can prove that your injuries were a result of your own negligent behavior, you may be found at least partially responsible for your damages.

You can be held responsible for your own health club accident in the following scenarios:

  • Using fitness equipment in ways other than instructed

  • Attempting to lift an unreasonable amount of weight that you’re not trained for

  • Following the advice of a private personal trainer or a trainer on social media

  • Setting cardio machines too high, causing you to fall

If a reasonable person would conclude that your own actions caused your injury, then you may be held personally liablewhich would affect the outcome of your claim. The same applies if your own carelessness caused your injury – for example, if you weren’t looking where you were going or were listening to music too loudly.

Can the Injury Victim & Gym Share Responsibility?

In California and other states, more than one party can be found liable in a personal injury case. This is termed comparative fault, or comparative negligence. In such cases, the court makes a determination and assigns a percentage of fault to each party; the plaintiff’s award of damages is reduced by the percentage of fault they are assigned for the accident. 

For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 40% responsible for their own injuries due to inappropriate use of the fitness center’s equipment, and the gym owner is found to be 60% at fault for failing to perform necessary equipment repair, the injured plaintiff would receive 60% of the total compensation awarded in the case.

Let CZ Law Do the Heavy Lifting in Your Gym Accident Case 

The old saying, “No pain, no gain” may apply to building up your muscle mass at the gym, but it should not apply to your personal injury case. If you’ve already been injured in a fitness center accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should not have to endure any more pain to receive the compensation you are rightfully due for your injuries.

You may be entitled to damages including the cost of your medical expenses, future medical care, lost wages, property damage, as well as pain and suffering. Unfortunately, most insurance companies, including those representing fitness center owners, are not likely to pay out fair compensation without a fight. 

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Carpenter & Zuckerman have been representing gym accident victims for over 27 years. Since the firm was established in 1995, our accomplished legal team has won more than $2 billion in verdicts and settlements for our deserving clients. 

CZ Law proudly serves clients throughout California, Washington, and other states. Our firm maintains offices in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Orange County (Garden Grove), San Diego, Bakersfield, and Seattle. 

CZ Law’s veteran personal injury attorneys are highly trained — both in and out of court — to handle your gym accident case. We are in your corner and are poised to fight until we secure the maximum compensation you are due. You won’t pay any legal fees unless we win your case.

If you’ve been injured at the gym due to another’s negligence, it’s time to call in the heavyweights — we can work out a victory in your case! Call (310) 273-1230 today or online to receive a FREE consultation. 

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