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Do Gyms/Fitness Centers Have Immunity from Liability for Personal Injuries?

daytime inside a gymIf you belong to a gym or fitness center, you likely signed a membership agreement/contract when you joined. Unfortunately, many people do not take a close look at what these agreements say. They may not notice if the agreement contains a liability waiver.

These clauses say the business is immune from liability for personal injuries that occur while you use the facility. The clause will say you cannot pursue compensation from the gym/fitness center if you suffer an injury, even if the gym or its employees were negligent. By signing, you are saying you accept the risks of using the facility.

But can these liability waivers be enforced? If you challenged them, would you be able to recover compensation?

There are important questions and gyms would rather injury victims just assume they are ineligible for compensation. They know if these waivers are challenged they may not hold up in court or in an insurance claim.

What Does Pennsylvania Law Say About Liability Waivers?

Under state law, a liability waiver is valid if it meets three conditions:

  • Does not contravene public policy
  • Relates only to the parties involved and is of no interest to the state
  • Is not a contract of adhesion, meaning the person signing the contract is under no compulsion to take part in the activity the contract is related to

Pennsylvania courts also have certain criteria they look at when assessing whether a waiver of liability can be enforced:

  • Language of the contract must be construed strictly – Exculpatory language, or language that frees one party from liability and waives the rights of the other party, is not favored under the law.
  • Contract must state intention of the parties with greatest particularity – The intention must be beyond doubt by express stipulation.  
  • Contract must be construed against the party seeking immunity ­
  • Burden of establishing immunity is on the party seeking protection under the clause or contract language

What if There was Gross Negligence Involved?

Despite the language of a liability waiver being clear, if there was extreme negligence on the part of the gym/fitness center and this led to your injury, you may have a valid case.

To prove gross negligence, your Harrisburg personal injury lawyer would need to show the gym, or its employees made a deliberate choice that knowingly put customers in danger.

For example, if there was poor supervision of the people using the facility or they knew about malfunctioning equipment that was unreasonably dangerous and failed to fix it, the waiver might not be enforceable.

Another example might be someone dying at a gym when a defibrillator would have saved the person if the gym had one nearby. It may be considered grossly negligent as people in a gym are exercising and putting their hearts under stress.

A third example might be failing to clean up tripping obstacles or place a proper warning about a slip and fall risk, such as a wet or recently mopped floor. For example, if a gym did not have enough staff members to make sure things were properly cleaned up, or had recently fired staff members, and this led to oversights in cleanliness that created a high risk for injury, a liability waiver may not be enforceable.

How Much Compensation Could be Available?

An injury caused by working out or an accident in a gym can be debilitating or even life-threatening. People often do not think they will suffer an injury because they are just working out and it is not that serious. It is not like they are playing contact sports.

However, working out does carry a significant risk for injury. People often push themselves too hard or do things incorrectly. They may not know how to properly use exercise equipment.

This can result in broken bones, torn ligaments, damage to muscles, shoulder injuries, heart attacks, groin pulls and a variety of other injuries. Treating these injuries can become quite expensive as it may take a while to recover.

You may also lose wages because you cannot work. The pain and suffering from these injuries can also be very difficult to manage.

If you have questions about the potential value of your claim, our attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss it.

Call Schmidt Kramer for Legal Help

If you suffered an injury in a gym or fitness center and think it could have been prevented, you may be able to obtain compensation for your damages.

However, things can quickly become complicated if the gym had you sign a liability waiver when you started using the gym or fitness center. That is why it is important to seek representation from an experienced lawyer who can review relevant laws and build a strong case.

There are no upfront fees or costs for discussing your potential case with one of our lawyers, and no fees while we work on your case.

Give us a call today to see if we can help. Phone: (717) 888-8888