Legally, yes. Anyone can file a motion to sue anyone or any business for justifiable reasons. However, that reason may not feel justified to everyone involved. The success or failure of such a situation is deeply affected by the REASON you intend to sue a gym. Will you WIN the lawsuit…
Pleading Your Case for fault gym equipment
First off – we’re in no way legal professionals so please don’t take our advice as Gospel – get in touch with a legal professional for more information.
Before a legal council goes after a business for a case, you, the defendant, must plead your case. Prove to your representative that the gym was at fault and not you. So, before you even CALL a lawyer, really consider what happened.
- Was there clear evidence the machine was broken, had wear and tear, a broken seat, loose handles, slippery bars, etc.?
- Did you use it anyway?
- Did you alert someone about the issue, and they never fixed it in a timely manner?
- Were the “how to use” and warning labels clearly visible and not torn off or faded?
- What kind of documentation did you sign when joining the gym? Did you read the fine print?
Once you can be sure the fault was the gym’s responsibility and the equipment’s condition, you need to find a legal representative, preferably one who has experience with liability claims specific to health and fitness companies. As per your right by the 7th Amendment, you can seek to pursue a civil dispute in court.
The Gym Has Defenses in Place
When you joined the gym, you likely got a nice tour of the place, maybe a free session with a trainer to boost your interest, but you also signed a lot of documents (or one really long one) called a contract of agreement before getting your key fob.
It is these signatures that help protect the gym from lawsuits that occur due to a gym user’s idea of faulty equipment and the first hurdle you and your legal representative must overcome. The most commonly signed is the liability waiver. This is you, the client, stating you are responsible (liable) for your actions in the facility and not the gym, personnel, or manufacturers.
Depending on how broad or specific that form gets determines how well it will hold up in court.
Another defense put in place by responsible gym owners is cameras. The ability to review the camera will alert both you and the gym to HOW you got injured. This is why you want to be sure you know the details prior to seeking legal counsel.
Defining Faulty Gym Equipment
Finding fault in gym equipment or machine means deeming the machine did not function as it was intended to by the manufacturer. A malfunction happens when equipment is not properly maintained, cleaned, and repaired as soon as a defect is identified.
Getting hurt while using gym equipment leads up to many follow-up questions, such as:
- Were you using the equipment as intended?
- Did the equipment physically break during the incident?
- Is the injury due to overuse or overloading your personal capacity?
Is the Risk Worth the Reward?
Now comes the big question you must ask yourself: Is suing the gym WORTH the outcome if you lose and is the reward worth the time, money, and exposure worth it?
You may decide that it is! If you were pressing hard on the smith machine and a bolt came loose, the handle broke, or a weight became loose and fell off only to leave you off balance during the exercise, there was undoubtedly some malfunction.
If you suffer serious injuries that lead to hospitalization and long-term damages, you very well may have a case to win. Once you decide to sue a gym for faulty equipment, you likely won’t go back to that gym, so make sure you are prepared for the outcome.
Many businesses are good about taking care of these types of situations without going to court, but if you find yourself in this position, just be sure to cross your T’s and dot all your I’s.
Let’s Talk Preventative Measures
I am not referring to the machines at the gym. That is not your responsibility unless you work there. I am talking about your own machine: your body. You maintain your vehicles and home, right? Your body is MORE important and needs regular maintenance as well.
No one WANTS to get hurt or sue a business, so what can gym-goers like yourself do to help you stay safe before an injury happens?
- Warm-up/Cooldown/Stretch-Make sure your muscles warmed up and loose before jumping onto a machine.
- Check the machine settings- Before you jump into your next set, check that the weight is where you need it and not where the last person left it.
- Read the labels!- If you are unfamiliar with the equipment and how to properly use it, read the instructions. There are warning labels for preventing injury AND steps on who to use the machine as intended.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help-Don’t think you are the only one who needs to learn how to use machines there. Ask an employee to show you the proper use of anything you wish to use. This ensures you use the equipment correctly AND put the business front and center in control of the situation.
- Be aware of what you wear- loose shirts can get caught in the folds of a machine. Be mindful of your clothes to ensure nothing will get stuck and cause you harm.
- Rest and Recover- Those people just sitting on the bench; they are resting between sets. Take 30-45 seconds after each set to ensure proper form each time, and recover at the end of your sessions with water and stretching.
Anytime you visit a business, you assume some of the risks during an injury. You were present, you were involved, and you are liable to an extent. Suppose a visit to the gym leads to an injury due to what you believe is faulty equipment. In that case, you absolutely have a right to alert the business representative and ask for compensation. So the answer is – yes you can sue the gym for faulty equipment – but make sure you get all the facts from legal counsel first and foremost!