Gym Liability for Workout Classes

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 What is a Personal Injury Claim?

In a personal injury claim, the plaintiff, or injured individual, alleges that they sustained an injury that was physical, mental, or both, as a result of an act or failure to act by the defendant. The court or jury may award the plaintiff compensatory damages, or financial compensation, for their injuries.

What is a Personal Injury Claim Based on Negligence?

A personal injury claim is a claim that arises when the plaintiff claims that the defendant injured them as a result of a breach of the duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the breach of the duty of care resulted in damages.

The duty of care that the defendant owes to the plaintiff will depend upon the circumstances surrounding the incident. In many situations, the defendant has a legal duty to exercise the degree of care which an ordinary person would under a certain set of facts.

For example, when the defendant is operating their motor vehicle on a highway in good weather, they have a duty to follow applicable motor vehicle laws. If, however, the defendant is operating their motor vehicle in stormy and inclement weather on a one-lane road, they owe a greater duty of care.

The defendant is required to exercise the degree of care which is appropriate for the weather and other circumstances, which includes:

  • Driving at a reduced speed;
  • Using windshield wipers; and
  • Turning on the headlights and taillights.

Whether a defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff depends upon the predictability, or foreseeability, of the harm which may result if that duty is not exercised. The test for whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care may be phrased as whether an average individual in the defendant’s position foresee that the type of injury that was sustained by the plaintiff was likely to occur.

If the type of injury was foreseeable, the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. If the defendant breached that duty and injuries resulting in damages occurred, the defendant is liable for personal injury under the legal theory of negligence.

If the injury was not foreseeable, the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care and will not be liable for negligence.

What is Gym Liability for Workout Classes?

Typically, exercising is considered great for an individual’s health. It may, however, come with certain dangers.

Workout classes that are very intense are becoming more popular in the fitness community. These types of classes, however, are also leading to more injuries.

Although every individual that exercises should take some personal responsibility for their own fitness abilities and safety, if an individual is injured, they may be able to recover compensation from the gym for their injuries.

When is a Gym Liable for an Injury?

A gym may be held liable for a patron’s injury which resulted from unsafe equipment or negligently administered classes. A gym has a duty to maintain safe equipment and to protect individuals from accident injuries that may occur as a result of a poorly maintained facility.

If an individual is injured because a workout machine snaps and falls on them, the gym or the manufacturer of that equipment may be liable. In some situations, a gym may be held liable for leading too intense of a workout.

In 2005, a former navy sailor successfully sued a Crossfit gym for muscle injuries that they sustained as a result of the Crossfit class they attended. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the unqualified instructor:

  • Lead too intense of a workout;
  • Failed to properly instruct the student; and
  • Failed to warn of the potential injuries the individual could sustain.

The court held that the gym was negligent in their administration of the class and ruled in favor of the injured sailor. Thus, a gym may be held liable for injuries sustained in classroom settings if it failed to take reasonable care in the administration of the class to ensure the safety of the participants.

What is Product Liability?

A product liability claim usually arises when a consumer files a lawsuit against the seller or manufacturer for allowing a defective consumer product to enter into the stream of commerce and making it available for purchase by the general public. For example, a motor vehicle may be the basis of a product liability lawsuit.

In these types of cases, both the seller, typically a dealership, and the manufacturer may be held liable for injuries that a plaintiff sustained while operating a vehicle that had defective parts. If a consumer cannot determine what automobile part manufacturer is responsible for causing the defect, every entity that was involved with the assembly and car sale process may be held liable for any resulting damages.

What is the Definition of Negligence?

Negligence can be defined as an individual’s failure to exercise reasonable care that results in injury or damage to another individual or their property. A court will determine the meaning of reasonable care by comparing the defendant’s actions with the actions of other reasonable individuals in the same or similar situations.

Due to the fact that negligence is one of the most common tort law claims, negligence claims are often included in personal injury claims. A plaintiff filing a negligence claim is responsible for proving that the defendant was negligent.

Negligence has four elements that a plaintiff is required to prove in order to prevail, including:

  • Duty;
  • Breach;
  • Causation; and
  • Damages.

What Reasonable Precautions Must Gyms Take?

In order to avoid liability for injuries resulting from workout classes, there are several steps gyms should take, including:

  • Hiring only experienced and certified trainers;
  • Taking care to instruct workout participants of proper workout technique;
  • Leading proper warm-ups and stretching;
  • Warning participants of possible risks associated with workouts;
  • Matching workout routines to participant abilities;
  • Not pushing participants to perform workouts they are unprepared for; and
  • Taking care to watch participants perform workouts to ensure they are done safely.

What Types of Damages Can a Court or Jury Award an Injured Plaintiff?

If a plaintiff proves that the defendant was liable for their injuries, they are entitled to compensatory damages, as noted above. The plaintiff may be able to recover 2 categories of damages, damages for the injuries sustained and damages for the consequences of the injuries.

This distinction is recognized under the law. There are 2 categories of compensatory damages a plaintiff may receive, general damages and special damages.

General damages are monetary compensation for the injury or injuries sustained, which may include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish; and
  • Trauma.

This category of damages cannot be easily assigned a monetary value. Because of this, in order to recover this category of damages, expert testimony, such as from a physician or psychiatrist, is typically necessary to assign a value to the injury the plaintiff sustained.

Special damages compensate a plaintiff for the specific consequences of their injuries, including medical expenses and loss of wages. These damages can be assigned a precise monetary value.

For example, a bill from a physician will list the amount due. The plaintiff’s pay stub will show their exact earnings.

These two documents may be used to calculate the amount of wages the plaintiff lost as a result of their injuries. Special damages are awarded to compensate a plaintiff for the costs associated with their injuries that their insurance or medicare and medicaid did not cover.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you or a loved one has been injured at a gym, it may be helpful to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine whether you may be able to recover for your injuries. Your attorney can examine your case, determine what compensation may be available, and represent you throughout the legal process, including during court appearances.


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