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Injured At The Gym

Does your daily or weekly routine involve going to the gym or to an exercise studio?  According to a recent national survey, 1 in 5 Americans belongs to at least one type of health club.  From yoga to cycling to high-intensity style workouts, there is a fitness franchise on nearly every corner.

As any experienced athlete can tell you, exercise-related injuries can happen out of nowhere, and they commonly occur at gyms and fitness centers.  In 2015, for example, a Consumer Products Safety Commission report found that 1,500 people visited emergency rooms across the country as a result of injuries caused by the use of treadmills, weights, elliptical machines and other exercise equipment.  Many exercise-related injuries are never reported, however, making the real number of injuries much higher.

Gyms, like other commercial businesses in Florida, have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition so that customers are not injured.  This obligation requires gym owners to maintain a reasonably safe workout environment.  For example, they must disinfect the gym equipment and check for broken or malfunctioning equipment on a regular basis.  Gym owners and operators are also required to warn customers of any known risks or hazards relating to use of the facilities and equipment.  If you suffer an injury because the gym failed to do these things, then you may have a claim against the gym.  If you are injured as the result of faulty gym equipment, you may also have a claim against the equipment manufacturer.

Gym Liability Waivers: Are They Enforceable?

Gym owners and operators will typically require members to sign a liability waiver as a part of the membership enrollment process.  Sometimes these waivers are buried in a stack of paperwork and not carefully reviewed.  Most people do not even think about the waiver they signed until after an injury occurs.

Such waivers, however, are not always enforceable.  Florida law requires waivers of liability to be clear and unambiguous.  In other words, the person signing the waiver must fully understand what rights are being surrendered as a result of signing the waiver.  If the waiver is not clear, then it will not be enforced.  The enforceability of the waiver will depend on: (1) the language in the waiver, and (2) the circumstances of the injury.

What To Do If You Are Injured At A Gym

Here are some tips on what to do if you are ever injured at a gym:

  • Immediately inform the manager on duty of the incident but don’t sign anything. Gyms typically write an incident report summarizing the situation and ask you to sign the document – do not sign anything until you speak to an attorney.  Incident reports are often self-serving in that they downplay the injury and potential negligence of the gym and its staff.  Further, you may not know the extent of your injury until after seeking medical treatment.
  • Seek medical attention right away.  Some serious injuries, like tendon and ligament tears may cause only minor pain at first, but are actually more severe.  A medical professional can determine the severity of your injury and advise you on the best course of treatment.
  • Make a note of witnesses. Write down the names of any witnesses to the injury and employees on duty at the time the injury occurred.
  • Contact an attorney to determine if you have a potential claim against the gym or equipment manufacturer to seek compensation for your injuries.

 

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