Injuries from overexertion and misuse of equipment at the gym are fairly common, but sometimes, a fitness center is to blame for a person’s suffering. In many cases, liability waivers come into play in lawsuits against gyms, and may impact the outcome of a case.
When an injury occurs at the gym, the facility may or may not be found liable. How this turns out in court is determined on the comprehensiveness of signed documents and whether the facility took reasonable steps to prevent the accident.
When is a Gym Liable for an Injury?
Just like any other business, the owners and operators of gyms, health clubs and fitness centers have a legal responsibility to keep their premises safe from any reasonably foreseeable hazards.
Common hazards at health clubs and fitness centers could include:
- Not keeping fitness equipment in good working order
- Failing to secure potentially hazardous items like free weights
- Not cleaning up spills
When a fitness center owner or operator is aware of a safety issue and does not warn its members or make attempts to correct them, they may be considered negligent. In recent cases, courts are also finding gyms liable when they do not provide required safety equipment or medical devices.
Not having an automated external defibrillator (AED) can have deadly results for a gym member who goes into sudden cardiac arrest. Pennsylvania legally mandates health clubs and fitness centers to both maintain an AED and train employees when and how to use the device.
The Role of Liability Waivers
No matter how careless the owner or operator of a fitness center might have been, when certain documents are signed, the case can become complicated. Most gyms, fitness centers and health spas require new members to sign liability waivers, stating that the business is not liable, in the case of an injury, no matter how severe.
Individuals may even be required to sign these types of waivers when participating in a free trial or one-time class. Reading these waiver of liability documents is important, as they may bar an individual from suing the fitness center or any of its employees, except in rare instances.
The language included in these waivers is often intentionally broad. There may even be clauses that cover any activity that takes place on a business’ premises. Other language could state that individuals attest that they have no pre-existing health problems or that they willingly assume the risk of injury or death due to improper use of, or defects in equipment.
Even when a waiver is extremely broad, it usually can’t be applied to injuries or death resulting from intentional or reckless conduct on the part of gym owners, employees or fellow members. If someone is assaulted at a gym, for instance, or a staff member allowed a member to use equipment that they knew was defective, the gym may be held liable, waiver or not.
Individuals who sustain non sports-related injuries at a gym or fitness center should consult with a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer to review the terms of the liability waiver and determine if it can be challenged in court.
If you or your loved one has been injured at a health club, fitness center or gym as a result of negligence, contact our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers today for your free consultation by calling 1-800-444-5309. We have offices in Scranton, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and will travel to you.