Gym Memberships And Waivers Of Liability
While most physical activities involve some sort of injury-risk, patrons of commercial gyms and health clubs should reasonably expect to exercise in a safe environment. After all, they are paying members of these facilities who use equipment which must be closely monitored and maintained by trained professionals. Many exercise machines are made up of a variety of moving parts and heavy components, and failure to regularly inspect these machines for malfunctions may be considered negligence if a problem results in a customer being injured.
It may seem obvious that an injured gym member should be able to sue the facility for damages, but this isn’t always the case. When an individual purchases a membership to a commercial gym, he/she often provided with paperwork to initial and sign, perhaps in a hurried fashion, and few gym members take the time to read and understand what they’re signing; many commercial gyms, especially larger chains, include a “waiver of liability” in this contract. Some waivers extend to unforeseeable accidents, while others go so far as to forfeit your right to sue in the event that you are injured, even as a result of negligence.
While this may seem unreasonable, the voluntary signing of such a contract and included waiver is legitimate and legal, even if its conditions are unfair. This is why knowing what you are signing, and opting not to sign if the conditions are questionable, cannot be stressed enough. In one 2010 New Jersey case, the handles on a stationary bicycle detached, causing the gym member to fall and suffer a chipped tooth and chronic neck and back pain.
The woman sued the gym for negligence, but the defense brought attention to the waiver she had signed upon getting a membership, which released the gym from liability in a range of circumstances, including “sudden and unforeseen malfunctioning of any equipment.” The court ruled in favor of the gym, and this ruling was later upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court, citing the validity of the gym contract’s release of liability.
If you’ve been injured due to negligence at a gym or health club, compensation is not out of the question. There is a variety of factors which may affect your case, such the precise wording of the contract’s liability waiver. There is also an extreme category of negligence, generally termed “gross negligence,” which is considered so egregious as to go beyond the conditions of any contract or waiver signed to use the gym. In all cases, the best way to protect yourself is by thoroughly reading any and all documents you are asked to sign before obtaining a gym membership, and be willing to explore other fitness options if you are unsatisfied with a contract’s requirements.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a gym, fitness club, or similar facility due to negligence, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Agruss Law Firm, LLC is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.
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