During the nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns, many gyms were closed, but as things opened back up, people got back to working out at exercise facilities. In 2021, there were more than 409,000 reported injuries that occurred as a result of exercise or the use of exercise equipment. These figures represent an increase from nearly 378,000 in 2020.
For these reported injuries, people between the ages of 15 to 24 had the highest rate of injury, and men were twice as likely to be injured as females.
So what happens if you get injured at the gym? You may be asking, “Can I sue the gym for my injury?” It depends on the situation. Keep reading to learn more about your legal options if you were injured at your gym.
You May Be Able to Sue if These Factors Are Present
There are certain circumstances under which you may be able to sue your gym for an injury that occurred. The following factors come into play and must be present for a lawsuit against the gym to be possible.
1. How the injury occurred
Did the injury occur while using the exercise equipment? Did it happen when you slipped and fell on a wet floor in the locker room? The way that the injury occurred is very important because you likely signed a liability waiver when you got a membership at the gym. Certain situations may be covered, while others may not, so we’ll talk more about that later.
The way in which you came to be injured will be a big part in determining whether you have grounds to sue the gym for your injury. In a lawsuit, you have to prove negligence. For instance, let’s say there is a warning on the exercise machine about how to use and how not to use the equipment. If you ignored the warning and used the machine incorrectly and were injured as a direct result, then it’s unlikely that you will be able to prove negligence because they did warn you.
However, if you used the machine and it malfunctioned, that may not be covered in their warnings or waivers, in which case, you may be able to prove their liability.
2. Express or implied safety assurances
Another factor is expressed or implied safety assurances. In a membership agreement, the gym will usually make some kind of assurance of safety.
A good example of this is if a person is harassing or threatening you at the gym, they may ask that person to leave to ensure your safety. If you were injured as a result of something they assured you they would protect you from, then you may be able to sue.
3. Language of the liability waiver
This is the most important factor. Most gyms will ask you to sign a waiver when you join, which usually makes broad statements in an attempt to free themselves from any liability for anything that could go wrong. When you sign it, you are agreeing and stating that you understand they are not liable. But the specific language that the gym uses in the waiver is what matters.
The waiver might say that the gym can’t be held liable for injuries that occur from improper equipment use or regular risks that come from exercise such as muscle or tendon damage. However, if you were injured because you slipped and fell on faulty flooring, or because a ceiling tile fell on you, and neither of these things were accompanied by a warning sign, then you may be able to sue.
Essentially, if the source of your injury was not mentioned or implied in the waiver, and you did not receive a warning of the risk, then you may be able to prove that the gym was negligent.
4. Third-party presence
If you were injured as a result of an altercation involving a third party, things can get a little more complicated. Perhaps you got into an argument with another patron over who was next in line to use a workout machine. If the person attacked you and you suffered a head injury, then the gym may be held liable for negligence if a staff member saw the disagreement escalate to violence and did not act to keep you safe.
In a different example, say a woman has been followed to her car multiple times before by a man who hangs around outside the gym. If she reports this to the gym staff and they do nothing, and then she’s attacked on her way to the car that night when she leaves the gym, she may be able to sue for negligence, as they didn’t attempt to keep her safe after she expressed concern. As a business, gyms are supposed to do their best to keep you reasonably safe. If they fail to take action that would keep you safe and you are injured as a result of their lack of action, then you may have a case.
Top Causes of Injuries at the Gym
Are you still unsure whether or not you can sue your gym for an injury? The answer often depends on the cause of the injury, as we previously mentioned. Although there are many ways you can become injured at the gym, there are a few that happen most frequently. These are the most common causes of injuries at the gym:
Faulty or defective equipment
Some gym equipment may be faulty or defective from the moment the gym purchases it. If the equipment is defective, using it could cause you to become injured. The manufacturer is responsible for the defect, but the gym also has the responsibility to check the equipment to make sure it works properly and is safe. Improperly functioning equipment can be very dangerous and lead to serious injury.
Failure to clean equipment/foreign body
If the gym staff fails to clean the equipment, a foreign body can enter your body, causing you to become ill or injured. That sounds really disgusting, but it does happen. If there’s rust or blood on a weight or machine and it gets in your eye or in a cut, you could become sick or injured.
These types of injuries are completely preventable when staff regularly cleans the equipment. However, it is important to note that, in the age of Covid-19, most gyms have warning signs placed around the facility letting people know that they are responsible for cleaning the equipment before and after their own use to ensure cleanliness and safety.
Failure to repair broken equipment
If the equipment breaks, then the gym is responsible for fixing it. Unfortunately, if gym staff fail to inspect the equipment and test it to make sure it’s safe to use, broken machines can seriously injure patrons, especially equipment with weights, because it can crush muscle or bone.
Improper instruction from a trainer or teacher
Some people work with a personal trainer or workout class instructor who teaches them how to properly perform certain exercises. Sometimes, the trainer or teacher may not give clear or adequate instructions, which can cause the student to do the exercise in a way that results in an injury.
Hurt at the gym? We can help.
If you were hurt at the gym and one of these scenarios describes your circumstances, are you still wondering, “Can I sue the gym for my injury?” Don’t assume that you have no rights or legal options just because you signed a waiver. Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can help.
Our team of experienced Florida premises liability lawyers can help you find a way to recover damages and get the maximum amount of compensation available to you after your injury. Call (561) 655-1990 today to schedule your free consultation with an attorney.