Personal Injury and Exercise: Can I Sue?

They say you're supposed to "feel the burn" while working out, but pain from broken bones, torn muscles, or other gym injuries should not be part of your typical exercise routine. Unfortunately, while exercising at your local gym, with a personal trainer, or in an outdoor gym, accidents can happen that result in injury.

When you hire a personal trainer, or sign on to work with one at your gym, you expect them to help make you healthier. However, if you're injured in an accident at your gym, it's more than your health that takes a hit. Medical bills, lost wages, and other damages can amount to much more than the pounds you might be adding on. When it comes to whether or not you can sue for your injuries, the issue lies in negligence.

Young woman injured at the gym with two male personal trainers helping her

Was a Personal Trainer or Gym Negligent?

Negligence leading to injury is a legitimate reason to take action against a personal trainer or gym. For instance, if you trip and fall in the parking lot, your personal trainer would not be liable for your injuries (though the owner of the shopping plaza might be). However, if your trainer spots a crumpled mat or spilled water on the ground and does nothing to fix it, he or she may be liable for your injuries if these instances caused an accident.

It is important to remember that in most cases, yourself or the injured person signs a type of waiver with the gym or trainer that acknowledges that you assume the risk of injury while exercising there. It is assumed that there is an inherent risk for injury whenever we exercise. By signing a gym waiver, you're saying that you understand that working with exercise equipment, weights, and other items of physical activity at the gym can cause injury if you do not operate them correctly.

However, fitness injuries that occur due to a staff member, facility owner, operator, or personal trainer's negligence may entitle you to a claim for compensation.

Proving Negligence in a Fitness Injury

Inherent risk aside, if you were harmed due to the carelessness or recklessness of a gym facility, you could be eligible for compensation. If you choose to file a claim against your personal trainer, staff member, or gym facility, you'll be required to prove that the defendant (the fitness provider you're suing) was negligent. Working alongside a trusted personal injury attorney can help streamline this process and answer a few main questions.

For a successful personal injury case, your attorney will be tasked with proving all elements of negligence. These are as follows:

  1. Duty of Care: To begin proving negligence, it must be shown that the defendant owed you, the plaintiff, a duty of care. Duty of care is the legal recognition of a relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff that creates an obligation for the defendant to maintain a certain standard of care. In this situation, it is the trainer or gym's duty to provide you with a safe exercise environment.
  2. Breach of Duty: Breach of the above duty of care, which results in injury, creates liability for the defendant. If a trainer or gym fails to exercise reasonable care with a client, such as pushing them too hard or providing them with faulty equipment, and the client is injured as a result, the defendant has been negligent.
  3. Causation: Proving causation means proving that the defendant was the actual cause of injury. In this case, proving that the defendant's actions directly caused the accident that caused your injury.
  4. Damages: The last step in proving negligence is by providing factual evidence that you have suffered an injury, and that said injury is compensable. If a trainer or gym breached their duty of care by failing to exercise reasonable care, but you were never injured or suffered any harm, there is no basis for a lawsuit. However, if the defendant breached their duty of care and you suffered an injury that resulted in medical expenses or lost work, you may have a compensable claim.

What Instances Would Count As a Breach of Duty?

A trusted personal injury attorney can work with you to prove that the defendant was negligent in your case, causing your injury. But, what about instances that the law would rule were not actually in part of "inherent risk," and were actually a breach of duty? Let's take a look at some examples of potential fitness liability claims due to negligence:

On Behalf of the Fitness Facility:

  • Faulty or poorly maintained equipment
  • Incorrect setup of equipment, such as weights not put together correctly
  • Unsafe premises, such as poorly maintained flooring or hazardous electrical work
  • No AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) equipment on site

On Behalf of a Personal Trainer:

  • Failure to perform a proper fitness evaluation or health risk appraisal of the plaintiff prior to exercise
  • Failure to consider the plaintiff's prior injury/health conditions before devising an exercise routine
  • Failure to devise a safe and proper exercise routine
  • Failure to provide adequate supervision of the plaintiff
  • Failure to follow operating and training procedures, rules, and regulations
  • Failure to follow internal rules, regulations, employee manuals, and operating procedures
  • Failure to ensure the plaintiff has an adequate rest period during the exercise routine
  • Failure to distinguish exercises that were safe and appropriate for the plaintiff from those that were dangerous

The Bottom Line: Can I Sue My Gym?

Regardless of a signed waiver, if you feel as though your injuries were caused by negligence on behalf of a gym or personal trainer, yes, you can sue. If your gym injury was due to negligence, be sure to report the incident to the gym's management and ask for a copy of the incident report if one was created. Take photos of your injury and, if possible, of the surrounding environment. If there were any witnesses to the event, try to get their contact information. Above all, be sure to receive immediate medical attention.

Once your injuries have been assessed by a medical professional, contact personal injury attorneys to discuss your case. At the Weinstein Legal Team, our team of experts will provide a completely free and 100% confidential case evaluation to help you decide if legal action is the best step for you to take. Together, we can ensure you pursue your right for compensation after injury.

If you've been harmed at your gym facility or while working with a personal trainer, it's time to exercise your rights for compensation. Contact the Weinstein Legal Team today.

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