Exercising regularly is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, and training at a gym provides you with a range of fitness equipment at your disposal. But, working out at a gym carries inherent risks, including that of serious injury.
While not every gym injury is the fault of the facility or personal trainer, there are certainly situations in which they can be held accountable. In these situations, you can seek compensation for your gym injuries.
So, when do you have a case for legal action against a gym? And how do you know what you’re entitled to? Here’s what you need to know.
What do I do if I’ve been injured at the gym?
If you have sustained a serious injury while working out at a gym:
- See a doctor or health professional for medical treatment
- Report your injuries to the gym’s management
- Seek legal advice
Can I make a compensation claim for my gym injury
You can consider making a compensation claim for your gym injury, if you're suffering persistent symptoms, it occurred at no fault of your own and someone owed you a duty of care. These types of claims are public liability claims, and most businesses have public liability insurance for when injuries like these happen. You can seek compensation if your injury was a result of your trainer or the gym’s negligence.
But, it is your responsibility to know your physical limits and to use equipment correctly. 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 for your gym injury.
When am I entitled to gym injury compensation?
- Faulty gym equipment: gyms have a responsibility to ensure all available equipment is fit for use and not is damaged, broken, or insufficiently maintained. The gym may have breached their duty of care if you suffer an injury because of faulty exercise equipment and you might be entitled to compensation.
- Personal trainer negligence: your personal trainer must advise on exercises that are within your range, otherwise they could be putting you at risk. If a personal trainer instructs you to do something beyond your abilities that causes an injury, you’re likely entitled to compensation for their negligence.
- Other gym patrons causing injury: accidents like dropping weights on another person can happen, so if your injury was entirely the fault of another gym member, you might be able to claim compensation from that individual instead of the gym.
Can I claim gym injury compensation if I signed a waiver?
When you joined the gym, 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 of your injuries (or something similarly worded). While this is standard practice, it does not and cannot absolve the gym from its duty of care to patrons.
Gyms are responsible for offering a safe environment to work out in and for keeping the exercise equipment in good working order. They have an obligation to ensure your safety when exercising at their facility, and you signing a waiver doesn’t change that.
Gym negligence case
Our client Becca* was working out with a personal trainer when she was advised to attempt a callisthenic movement on a set of bars at the gym. The movement involved swinging from one bar to another.
Despite our client’s hesitations, the personal trainer assured her the movement was easy, so Becca attempted it and ended up falling onto the hard surface below. There were no mats or crash pads for protection against the hard floor in the gym, so Becca fractured her elbow from the impact of the fall and required surgery.
There was evidence that proved the personal trainer would often train clients on this gym equipment with this sort of callisthenic movements, but the facility took no steps to ensure that the area was set up for this sort of training, for example, by ensuring there was absorption mats on the floor to avoid the foreseeable risk of injury.
Because of her injury, Becca was no longer suited to physical work (which dominated her working history) and was instead limited to only light sedentary employment, with at least 17 years of working life left ahead of her. She received compensation for her injuries, as well as income she lost as a result.
How can I reduce my risk of injury at the gym?
Getting injured while working out can be a setback for reaching your fitness goals.
Here are tips on how to avoid injuring yourself while at the gym:
- Start slowly and gradually increase the weights you’re using and the intensity of your workouts.
- Use gym equipment properly and for what it’s intended for, otherwise you could be deemed at fault if you get injured.
- Don’t overestimate your physical abilities or it may be your fault if you get hurt from doing an exercise beyond your skillset.
- Disclose your injuries and medical conditions with your personal trainer, so they can develop a training program for you that avoids further harm.
Contact Shine Lawyers
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. Get in touch with our public liability team for an obligation-free assessment of your claim.
*Name has been changed to protect our client's privacy.
Written by Tina Ibraheem. Last modified: January 18, 2021.