Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hurt at the Gym? You Need a Good Lawyer!

Can you be compensated for your injuries if you signed a liability waiver?

We live in a culture obsessed with looking a certain way. In order to get the results we want, we try to eat healthy and workout, and most people work out in a gym. But, going to the gym has its downsides. One risk associated with going to the gym is being injured. If you signed a waiver and/or release of liability and were then hurt at the gym, being compensated for your injuries might be an uphill battle. One recent case coming out of Pennsylvania is a good example of this.

Patricia Evans, 61, attempted to hold a Pennsylvania location of LA Fitness responsible for injuries she sustained while working out at the franchise. Evans was allegedly injured while doing “suicide runs” at the request of her personal trainer. Suicide runs are an exercise where you run forward, bend down to touch a marker and then turn around and run back. Evans claims she fell and fractured both her wrists after being pushed by her trainer to work harder.

But, unfortunately for Evans, she had signed not one, but two, waivers and release of liability upon joining the gym and signing up for personal training sessions. These exculpatory clauses basically entailed that Evans assume the risk of any negligence on the gym’s part and that she agree to arbitration. These clauses were found in the Membership and Personal Training Agreements and were acknowledged by Evans in both cases. Evans then claimed that she did not know that she was waiving her rights by acknowledging these clauses in the agreements.

LA Fitness moved for summary judgment (asking the court to make a decision because there were no factual issues for trial) and the court held that there was a three-part test to determine if the clauses were enforceable. In order to be upheld the clauses must not be against public policy, must be related entirely to the private affairs of the parties and must be a contract of adhesion (a take-it or leave-it contract where one party has no room to negotiate). It must also be clear that the person is waiving certain rights by signing the contract. The Judge in a federal court in Pennsylvania found that LA Fitness’s clauses met the test and that the gym could not be held liable.

If you were injured after signing a waiver or release of liability, you are not always out of luck. These matters are decided on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to evaluate and pursue your case.

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