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Who is legally responsible for gym injuries?

We live in a health and fitness conscious society with fifty million Americans belonging to health clubs. With many more people becoming members of fitness facilities, statistically, more injuries will occur. According to a study done by the University of Arkansas, there has been a 35% increase in gym injuries in recent years. However, most gyms will have its members sign liability waivers as part of their contract hoping to deter patrons from bringing suit for injuries. In many instances, however, courts will likely disregard such waivers to award plaintiffs compensation for their injuries.

A Connecticut woman was recently awarded $750,000 for injuries sustained at her gym resulting from an employee incorrectly instructing her to use a piece of fitness equipment. Another gym patron from Buffalo also recently prevailed in a lawsuit against her fitness center and was awarded $980,000 for her injuries. While the court determined that the plaintiff was 30% responsible for the damage done to her discs, the original award of 1.4 million was reduced by 30%.

There are several kinds of waivers a gym may require members to sign as part of its contract. Waivers for liability typically provide language that the gym cannot be held liable for any injuries sustained by patrons on the premises. However, these provisions are usually not enforceable in court if the language used is overly broad. Another type of waiver a gym may have its members sign absolves the gym from liability resulting from the negligence of its employees. Usually, negligence waivers are upheld in court, whereas waivers for intentional acts are typically considered unconscionable by judges.

In addition to the physical injuries one can sustain as a result of faulty equipment or instruction at the gym, many hidden dangers abound. Unsanitary conditions can give rise to bacterial infections and illnesses for those who have come into contact with equipment that has not been cleaned leading to conditions that, in some cases, have required hospitalization. If a gym fails to provide antibacterial disinfectants, it could be held liable for negligence- the failure to exercise due care.

In determining whether you should be awarded damages as a result of an injury sustained at the gym, a court will likely look to whether the patron contributed to the injuries, and if the gym or its employees were "grossly negligent," meaning the gym recklessly disregarded the safety of its patrons. An example of gross negligence would be the gym's knowledge that a weight bar was broken, but failed to repair it, thus resulting in a patron's injury.

If you have been injured as a result of unsanitary or unsafe conditions at the gym, contact a personal injury attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call the attorneys at Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP at (212) 571-7171.

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