Joining the local gym or fitness facility can provide the means to stay fit and the motivation you need. When visiting or signing up for a membership, you will generally be required to sign a gym liability waiver in Texas. While gym liability waivers are designed to protect the facility owner if personal injuries happen, you can count on our Houston personal injury lawyers to help protect your rights in filing a claim.
Personal injury lawsuits related to gym accidents
In legal terms, a personal injury lawsuit is referred to as a ‘tort’. According to the Bureau Of Justice Statistics (BJS), close to 600,000 tort claims are filed each year. Of these, nearly 120,000 center around inadequately maintained or dangerous property. Accidents that occur while exercising at gyms or physical fitness facilities fall under this category and are estimated to leave as many as five million people suffering personal injuries each year. What are common causes of gym accidents in Texas?
- Slips, trips, and falls, which can happen due to wet floors or while using treadmills, stair climbers, and other equipment.
- Getting struck by or against objects, due to poorly attached fixtures, broken belts or cables, or mishaps when using resistance bands, free weights, and other equipment.
- Overexertion, which can happen due to lack of instruction and negligence on the part of personal trainers.
- Improper maintenance of fitness equipment, a common factor in gym accident injuries.
- Failure to properly clean and sanitize surfaces, which can expose you to dangerous bacteria, resulting in infections and illnesses.
Common gym injuries include sprained or torn muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues and injuries to the back, neck, head, or spine. While symptoms may be subtle, seek medical attention immediately. Not doing so could jeopardize your health and your rights in a personal injury claim.
What is a gym liability waiver and how does it work in Texas?
A gym liability waiver is a legal contract. It acknowledges that you were warned of possible hazards, work out at your own risk, and agree not to hold the gym or their employees liable for personal injuries you suffer. What information should a gym liability waiver generally contain in order to be enforceable in court?
- A list of activities the waiver applies to, such as injuries incurred while using locker room facilities, fitness equipment, or when following the advice of personal trainers.
- The ‘range of dangers’, which are the specific risks associated with listed activities;
- An assumption of risk clause, in which you agree to assume all risks;
- An exculpatory clause waiving your right to file a personal injury lawsuit and releasing the owner and their employees from any liability.
Gym liability waivers are meant to protect the gym owner by restricting your rights in filing a personal injury claim against them. However, if a liability waiver does not include the right information, it may be overturned in court.
Does having members sign COVID-19 waivers fully protect fitness centers from liability?
In addition to a general gym liability waiver, many gym owners now require a COVID-19 waiver as well. This waives your rights to sue the fitness facility for negligence if you contract the virus but does not provide full immunity to facility owners. They must still comply with state and federal guidelines in regards to the following:
- Limiting the number of people at the facility to ensure social distancing;
- Requiring all staff and gym members to wear masks;
- Providing six feet of space between fitness machines;
- Providing hand sanitizer throughout the facility;
- Having a regular cleaning schedule and sanitizing fitness equipment after each use.
Failing to adhere to any of the above could invalidate the COVID-19 waiver.
What should I do if I suffer an injury at a gym in Texas?
Even with a gym liability waiver, gym owners can still be held liable for personal injuries if it is not worded properly or signed by you. What should you do if you suffer an injury at a gym in Texas? The following steps can help protect your rights in a claim:
- Report the incident immediately to the gym owner or manager;
- Get the names and contact information of witnesses at the scene;
- Take photos of broken equipment, wet floors, or other hazards that contributed to your injuries;
- Get medical attention immediately and follow your doctor’s instructions regarding treatment and work or activity restrictions;
- Consult with our experienced Houston personal injury lawyers right away.
After reviewing the circumstances surrounding your injuries and any gym liability waivers you signed, we can advise you on how to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages you suffer.