People join gyms to improve their health and fitness but sometimes sustain injuries because of equipment failures and/or employee conduct. Whether or not you can hold the gym liable for being hurt, however, can boil down to the liability waiver the company had you sign when you became a member. Here are two liability waivers used by gyms to avoid being held responsible for member injuries and how they may affect your case.
Total Waiver of Liability
This type of waiver absolves the gym of liability for any injury you sustain for any reason. As you can imagine, gyms like total liability waivers because these contracts let them avoid being made to pay compensation for damages and losses members sustain, regardless of how the injuries came about. If you slipped and fell because an employee mopped the floor but failed to put out a warning sign, for instance, the total liability waiver would prevent you from holding the company liable.
However, these types of agreements can be rendered unenforceable by the court because they tend to be too broad and try to cover acts that are unconscionable or violate public policy. If the company knew a piece of equipment was malfunctioning and didn't take steps to fix it or warn members, the court may feel the company's conduct goes against public policy (for public health and safety) and let your case proceed.
Liability Waiver for Negligent Acts
The most common waiver you'll run into, though, is the liability waiver for negligent acts. This stipulation absolves the company of responsibility for injuries caused by its or its employees' negligence. If a personal trainer puts too much weight on a machine and you suffer a sprain as a result, you couldn't sue the company for the trainer's negligence, for example.
Liability waivers for negligence are enforceable. However, these contracts typically only cover ordinary negligence. Gross negligence (i.e. the willful and conscious disregard acting with reasonable care), intentional acts, and reckless conduct are typically not included. So if the employee or company's behavior falls into one of those categories, you could still sue and win damages.
Even if you can't hold the gym liable for your injuries, you may still have a case against other actors in the incident. For instance, you may be able to sue a manufacturer if a piece of equipment it makes malfunctioned and caused your injury. For more information about these issues or help litigating a personal injury case against a gym, contact an attorney.