Injury at South Florida gyms has been climbing as the number of health-fitness clubs and gyms has risen – 4 percent in the last five years, according to IBISWorld market research.Industry-wide revenue topped$2billion this year.
The question of whether one can successfully sue for a gym injury in Florida will depend heavily on how the injury occurred, what assurances of safety were express or implied with your gym patronage, the language of the liability waiver you (most likely) signed and whether third parties were involved.
Because injuries at the gym have the potential to be very serious (with some reported including broken bones, facial fractures, dental injuries, head injuries, neck and spinal cord injuries and more) it’s imperative to discuss your options with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney.
Fitness centers throughout Miami in standalone buildings, shopping plazas, hotels, resorts, spas – even commercial warehouses (primarily Crossfit). Customers pay good money to use the parking facilities, access all the workout equipment, receive one-on-one time with personal trainers, attend various classes and use amenities like lockers, change rooms, showers, pools and steam rooms. Unfortunately, as our personal injury attorneys in Miami are well aware, that’s a lot of opportunity for potential danger.
Top Cause of Injuries at Florida Gyms
Although every scenario is going to be different, most injuries at the gym involve exercise equipment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports treadmills especially have high injuries rates (partially because they are so widely used, but also because they are prone to wear-and-tear on belts, wires and other electrical mechanisms). Of the 62,700 exercise equipment injuries reported in a single recent year, 24,000 were treadmill users.
Use of any exercise equipment at a gym can be extremely hazardous if:
- The equipment was dangerously designed;
- The equipment was improperly manufactured;
- The equipment was not appropriately assembled OR maintained;
- The equipment was not positioned for use according to manufacturer instructions;
- Appropriate warnings for equipment use danger were not clearly and obviously displayed;
- The equipment user was not given proper instruction by a trainer, instructor or other staffer who assumed a duty to do so.
Plaintiffs injured by workout equipment at the gym may prevail in claims against the:
- Equipment manufacturer;
- Seller of the equipment;
- Equipment maintenance/repair company;
- Employer of the trainer/instructor/staffer;
- The gym company itself (both as property owner and service provider).
If the claim is against the gym itself, the claim will likely involve direct liability and/or vicarious liability for a gym employee’s negligence. In these cases, we will want to look very carefully at whatever liability waivers you sign.
Though courts generally do honor those contracts, they aren’t a catch-all and there is often room to argue contract ambiguity or liability through another means. The liability waiver matters less when the claim is against the maker of the machine.
Not all exercise equipment injury will be compensable. Defendants in these cases will scrutinize carefully your own comparative negligence, or in other words, to what extent you are allegedly at-fault for your own injuries. A patron who blatantly ignores the instructions of a trainer or clear warning label may have less success with a gym injury claim or if even if they win a settlement or verdict, they may not be entitled to receive as much.
Other Causes of Gym Injury For Which You Might File a Claim
Although many gym liability waivers contain clauses about inherent risks associated with certain strenuous physical activity or equipment use, they will often include language that would seem to excuse the gym owner/staff from any and all forms of negligence.
For example, the liability waiver may clear your instructor of legal responsibility if you fall from a rock wall, it might not also encompass a slip-and-fall from an employee’s neglected water bottle spill in a hallway. Slip-and-falls can also occur in fitness club and gym bathrooms, saunas, showers and pools, but these will generally need to meet the criteria outlined in F.S. 768.0755.
Sometimes injuries at gyms and fitness centers are the result of third-party physical violence. Sometimes it’s a conflict with another patron. Other times, criminals have preyed on gym customers entering or exiting the site or certain isolated areas (bathrooms, showers, etc.).
Gyms, like all property owners, have a responsibility to keep customers safe from danger that is both foreseeable and unreasonable. An example might be if several female patrons report a man following them over the course of hours, days, weeks, months – and gym staff’s response is inadequate to keep customers safe – the gym may be held liable. In that scenario, gym management/staff controls the site and is privy to information about an unreasonable risk of danger that wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to the average patron without warning.
Gym injury lawsuits in Florida can be a bit more complicated than other types of injury litigation, depending on the circumstances. There might also be stringent time limits in which you need to initiate a claim. It’s imperative you consult sooner than later with a highly-reputable South Florida personal injury law firm.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Injuries Using Exercise Equipment Up 45%, Most Occur On Treadmills, Aug. 12, 2014, Connecticut Health I-Team
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West Palm Beach Injury Lawsuit Damages Would be Capped With HB17, April 4, 2019, Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Blog