Joining a gym usually involves filling out paperwork that explains many aspects of the membership, including the member’s rights and use of the facilities. Even people considered “guests” in a gym may be required to sign documents or accept terms and conditions before using the facility.
But when equipment is not properly used, members become complacent in working out on equipment, or dangers are present, accidents can easily occur at a gym. These accidents may cause injury to one or more people in the facility. Liability in these issues can be confusing. But membership documents often clarify who can be held liable for accidents in the facility.
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It is the responsibility of gym management and owners of the fitness-oriented business to ensure their facility is safe and well maintained. This responsibility includes all equipment inside the gym, interior and exterior stairs, facility floors and other aspects of service provision. Known hazards must be clearly identified to members or the gym may be held liable through negligence, should an accident occur.
Premises liability theories may apply to accidents that occur within gyms. Many states also employ a system providing additional legal responsibilities on owners of property, according to the relationship they have with an injured victim. This means that the closer the relationship is with the victim, the greater the duty of care or responsibility that property owner holds.
Examples of these relationships may be those of invitees, licensees and trespassers. Invitees are customers and others granted the right to use the space or enter the premises. These invitees are owed the highest level of care. Invitees must be provided with warning of dangers that exist on the premises. Invitees are also owed periodic checks of facilities and conditions by the owners, to ensure safe customer use of the property. When hazards exist, they must be discovered and rectified quickly.
It is very important that gyms maintain working medical equipment at their facilities to provide quick and effective treatment, should an injury occur. Many states require that fitness center employees are trained in initial treatment of medical issues or injuries that commonly occur at gyms.
Many gyms include waivers in membership packaging. These documents may be for children or adults using the facilities, with stipulations specifying when the gym is or is not accountable for injuries. These documents may also contain release of liability to the facility, partners, manufacturers, suppliers and affiliates for any damages that may occur on the premises.
Waivers are common for trial periods, guest visits and full memberships of gyms. The waiver is designed to communicate clearly what the facility can and cannot be held accountable for injuries through a lawsuit. These waivers are often written using broad terms to encompass a wide range of activities. They may also pin all liability on the member or other person using the facility, particularly if equipment is not properly used.
Signing these documents waives many rights of the member, guest or visitor. When someone is injured in a gym facility, having signed such documents presents some difficulties in liability claims. The gym often cannot be held responsible at all, regardless of the magnitude of the suffered injury. These waivers are used due to the extensive number of injuries occurring in these facilities each year. Working out is an activity laden with inherent dangers, so without a waiver most gyms would quickly be put out of business through injury claims.
Pre-existing health conditions may also be covered through the waiver. Death is usually not included in a waiver, so if staff, trainers or management are negligent in causing death or serious injury, they may be held liable through a claim.
When a waiver has been signed and you have been injured at the gym, your Phoenix personal injury lawyer will need to review the document and circumstances of the injury to determine whether the waiver can be challenged in court. A judge will usually make the decision regarding the waiver based upon the type of injury and clauses bearing the member’s signature. Very broadly written waivers may not hold up in court, nor will one that is in violation of public policy. Even with a waiver, a gym is responsible for prevention of harm to its members. If the fitness facility has failed in this responsibility, they may be held accountable for damages or compensation.
Personal injury lawyers understand the liabilities of gyms, fitness clubs and workout facilities. Such a lawyer can review the circumstances of your injury and the documents you signed when becoming a member to determine whether you can successfully file a claim. There are other defense considerations a lawyer can advise you about that may affect the case, including assumption of the risk, contributory negligence or comparative negligence.
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