Australians are flocking to the gym, motivated by increased awareness of health issues plus the convenience and affordability of 24-hour franchises. These are the findings of IBISWorld’s 2018 report Gyms and Fitness Centres in Australia, which states that franchises like Jetts and Anytime Fitness drove the majority of industry growth for the five years prior to the study.
Yet training at a gym carries inherent risks, including the risk of serious injury. While not every injury that occurs in a gym is the fault of the establishment or trainer, there are certainly situations in which they can be held accountable. In these situations, you can seek compensation for your injuries.
In early 2017, musician Ben Gillies sued a Melbourne gym for a shoulder injury he sustained two years prior. The former drummer for multi-ARIA award winning rock band silverchair, Gillies alleged that his personal trainer instructed him to lift certain weights despite his protests that they were too heavy. His injuries, which included a torn tendon and inflamed muscle, rendered him unable to play the drums for eight months. They also forced him to turn down potentially lucrative appearances on TV shows like Celebrity Big Brother.
So when do you have a case for legal action against a gym, and how do you know if you’re entitled to compensation?
I’ve been injured. Now what?
If you’ve been injured at the gym, you may be able to make a public liability claim. When you joined, you likely signed a waiver stating that you agree to exercise at your own risk and that the gym cannot be held liable for any injuries you may incur (or something similarly worded). While this is standard practice and is a way for the gym to cover themselves, it does not and cannot absolve them from their duty of care to patrons.
Can I claim for compensation?
It’s the duty of gym members to know how much they’re capable of and to use equipment responsibly. For example, if you’ve used a weights machine incorrectly or tried to lift a heavier load than you can handle, you’ll be unable to claim compensation.
However, you may be able to claim compensation if the machine you were using was damaged, faulty or insufficiently maintained. If a personal trainer instructs you to do something that results in injury, as in the Ben Gillies scenario, you’re likely entitled to compensation. If your injury was entirely the fault of another gym member, you might be able to claim compensation from that individual and not the gym.
Accidents and injuries can happen anywhere, including public places such as gyms and recreational facilities. If you’ve been injured in a public place and somebody owed you a duty of care, you may have a claim for compensation. Contact our public liability team for an obligation free assessment of your claim.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: February 13, 2019.