Liability for Injuries Sustained in the Use of Exercise Equipment

Whether there is any liability when you are injured when using exercise equipment is determined by several factors.  One of the first inquiries is whether there is a contract that governs the rights and responsibilities of the injured party and the exercise facility.  Additionally, injuries arising from the use of exercise equipment tend to result from one of the following causes:

  • Defective design of the exercise equipment
  • Failure to use the equipment properly
  • Failure to properly assemble the exercise equipment

Each case must be analyzed on its own set of facts to determine whether or not there is a claim that may be made.

Apartment Gyms, Private Gyms, and Health Clubs

Usually, when you sign an apartment lease, there will be a clause within the lease that affects your rights and uses of any exercise facility that is provided onsite.  Similarly, private gyms and health clubs almost always have clauses that limit the liability of the facility for injuries.

Some of the most common rights affected by apartment leases include:

  • Equipment is used at your own risk
  • Parental supervision of children is required

Anytime you are injured at a gym where your rights are governed by a contract, you should consult a product liability attorney to review your contract and determine what rights you have.

Issues Involving Minors and Contracts Limiting Liability

Minors pose a special problem for workout facilities. Legally, you cannot restrict a minor’s right to sue because the minor is not of legal age to enter into a contract and, any contract signed on their behalf is voidable regardless of who signs it.

Some kid-oriented businesses and companies have solved this problem by the use of indemnity agreements instead of injury waivers. While the minor’s right to sue cannot be contracted away, a parent can contract to indemnify the exercise facility or gym. Indemnity simply means that the person indemnifying agrees to foot the bill for any liability incurred by the workout facility.  Thus, if the parent indemnifies the apartment complex for injuries sustained in the use of the exercise equipment by the child, then the child may still sue for damages, but the apartment complex can turn around and sue the parent for the amount the apartment is liable for.

home exercise equipmentDefective Design – Failure to Meet Safety Standards

Whenever exercise equipment fails to meet current industry standards, the manufacturer may be held liable for injuries that result from the defective design of the exercise equipment. For example, modern treadmill industry safety standards dictate that a treadmill should have a safety stop built-in. This can be anything from a button that once let go automatically cuts off the treadmill motor to a key that ties to your wrist or waist and cuts off the treadmill if it is pulled away due to a runner falling or moving too far from the safe standing area.

Horseplay and Improper Use

Generally, horseplay is prohibited on or around exercise equipment. When someone improperly uses exercise equipment, typically their negligence is the cause of the injury. Whenever the person is a minor, however, the question becomes who had the duty to supervise and instruct? Often, if there is a contract, this will be defined as the parent.

Improper Assembly Claims When Private Home Equipment Fails

Not all exercise equipment that breaks or fails is defectively designed. Sometimes this happens because the equipment is not properly assembled. In many cases, when you purchase home exercise equipment, the seller will offer to have an assembly service come to your home and assemble the equipment. We have seen cases where a person was injured from the improper assembly of the exercise equipment.

One example was a case where a man was injured after a stationary bike pedal came off due to improperly tightened bolts causing the man to fall and tear his rotator cuff. The assembly company owes a duty of ordinary care when they assemble the bike. Failure to properly assemble the stationary bike in that instance was the basis of liability. One of our attorneys, Sharon Simmons-Cantrell was successful in securing a six-figure settlement on a case just like this.

Consult a Product Liability Attorney

As you can see from above, there are many complex issues involved in exercise equipment injury cases. If you are injured in the use of exercise equipment, you should consult a product liability attorney to determine your legal rights.  At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C, we offer a free no-obligation consultation and we work on a contingency fee when we take on your case. Call today: (713) 932-0777.

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