At the start of each New Year, many people make getting in shape a goal. From seasoned gym pros to those who haven’t seen a treadmill in years, gyms are for everyone, no matter their experience.
While we often don’t think about it, with physical activity comes an inherent risk of injury. Twisted ankles, pulled muscles, and strained backs are all too common if you suddenly start working out, push your body too hard, or simply take a wrong step. However, faulty equipment or negligent maintenance can also cause injuries in a gym, leaving the injured unable to continue their fitness journey and facing medical bills through no fault of their own.
If you were injured in an accident at the gym, don’t automatically assume responsibility. The negligence of other parties, including the gym manager or other gym members, or faulty equipment, may mean you didn’t cause the accident. If you were injured at the gym, you may have legal options to help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Are Common Causes of Gym Injuries?
Several conditions often lead to injuries at the gym, including:
Unsafe Conditions Inside the Gym
The gym and its facilities, such as the bathrooms or parking lots, should be properly maintained at all times to ensure a safe and healthy environment for individuals to work out. Texas’s premises liability laws make gyms responsible for addressing potential and known environmental hazards as well as keeping the facilities clean.
Unsafe conditions, such as loose support bars, slick floors without a wet floor sign present, or poor hygiene conditions inside the gym can all lead to injury or illness. If a gym is aware of these conditions but does nothing to rectify them or to warn patrons about them, they are violating premises liability laws and are liable for all accidents and injuries that occur as a result of negligence.
Poorly Maintained or Defective Gym Equipment
Gyms must properly maintain and regularly check the functions of all gym equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, and weights. Failure to do this increases the risk of equipment malfunctioning and leading to serious injury. If a gym does not perform regular upkeep of its equipment and a patron is injured due to the machine malfunctioning, the gym could be liable.
In some cases, a gym may get a new piece of equipment that they are unaware has a defect. If this happens, the gym would not be liable. But the equipment manufacturer may be under Texas’s product liability laws. In either case, you will want an experienced personal injury attorney to help you figure out which party should be held responsible for your accident.
Failure to Follow Proper Safety or Workout Procedures
While many individuals consider working out a solo activity, many exercises need assistance. For example, weight lifting requires a spotter to help prevent injuries such as dropping the weight due to loss of strength or a strained muscle from improper form.
Failing to follow proper safety procedures or use equipment properly would not result in the gym having liability. In this case, the individual working out is responsible.
Too Much, Too Fast
Especially for those who took a break from working out and then suddenly jumped back into it, the risk of overexertion is high. It is important to understand your physical limitations and abilities and listen to your body when you work out. While pushing yourself just past your comfort zone is how you build muscles and increase endurance, pushing too hard can seriously harm your body. Sprained ankles, stress fractures, and even cardiac events can stem from someone doing too much, too fast. Make sure you properly prepare your body for what you want it to do, build up endurance over time, and seek the help of a professional trainer if you are unsure where to start.
What Types of Injuries Can Occur at the Gym?
Numerous types of injuries can take place at the gym, but these are the most common:
- Cardiac events such as a heart attack
- Shin splints
- Groin pulls
- Wrist sprains
- Wrist dislocation
- Leg and knee injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Fractured bones, including stress fractures
- Neck and back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
What Should I Do If I Sustained an Injury While at the Gym?
If you are working out at a fitness center and were in an accident that resulted in serious injury to yourself or a loved one, do the following. These steps will help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your accident:
Step 1: Assess the Injury
Some injuries may be serious, such as a cardiac event or a severe laceration due to faulty gym equipment. In other cases, the injury may not carry life-threatening implications but still require medical attention and rehabilitation.
Make sure you assess the situation to ensure you get the necessary treatment. Call 911 immediately if the injury requires immediate medical attention. If you are able, get to a safe location where you can sit down and rest.
Step 1.5: Talk With a Gym Employee to Report the Accident
If you can, speak with a gym employee—preferably the manager—to report the accident. This way you can ask for valuable information about the gym, such as the contact information for the corporate office or their insurance company.
If the injuries you sustained required you to be rushed to the hospital, call the gym alongside your personal injury attorney to get this information.
Step 2: Gather Information and Pictures
If you or the person you went to the gym with is able, write down everything that happened. This includes the names, job titles, and contact information of the gym and its staff. Write down how the accident occurred and the events that took place afterward.
It is also important that you keep a written record of all communication between you, office management, and the insurance company. These entities may try to twist your words to avoid responsibility for the accident and put the blame on you.
You’ll also want to take pictures of the accident scene. These will help paint a clear picture of what happened. This is especially true if a dangerous condition, such as a wet floor or a defective workout equipment, caused the accident.
Step 3: Seek Medical Attention
In some cases, the injury you sustained may not seem all that bad. Adrenaline can mask the pain of severe injuries including traumatic brain injuries and some back injuries. We strongly recommend seeking medical attention to ensure any hidden injuries are treated properly.
This is also important to do because you’ll want to have a record of your injuries from the accident. Delaying or refusing to get medical attention may make it seem like your accident wasn’t that bad and can cause your personal injury claim to be dismissed.
What Are the Defenses a Gym May Have Against Liability?
Most gym accidents that are taken to court will fall under negligence. The defense attorneys for the gym will most likely fall back on the traditional defense routes to try and reduce or dismiss the charges against them. Some of these defenses are as follows:
There was an assumption of risk: Many companies try to shield themselves with the “an assumption of risk” defense when charged with negligence. This basically states that because the injured party signed a membership agreement stating that the gym is not responsible for certain injuries, they cannot be held accountable. By choosing to exercise, the individual was aware of the risks. However, juries and the court typically don’t look too favorably on this defense on its own.
The victim played a part in their accident: The defense may try to prove the victim’s behavior at least partly caused the accident. This could include improper use of the equipment or not wearing the right workout gear.
Don’t let the gym or their insurance company bully you. If the defendant tries to shift the blame onto you, you need a personal injury attorney on your side to act as your shield. They may be able to twist words around, but facts are another matter. Our team works hard to gather the evidence to paint a clear picture of how the gym’s employee’s or owner’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury and suffering.
Fight for the Compensation You Deserve
The attorneys at Branch & Dhillon, P.C. is dedicated to serving the individuals of Arlington, Texas, and the surrounding areas. We help victims of car accidents, those serving premises liability lawsuits, and people involved in personal injury cases get the compensation they deserve. We work around the clock to ensure that we have the right evidence to paint a clear picture to the courts about what happened and how the defendant’s actions directly impacted the accident. Contact our team today for more information about our legal services or to schedule your free no-obligation consultation.