New York Gyms and fitness centers can be great resources for getting in shape and developing exercise habits. However, fitness facilities that are not safely operated can also place members at risk of incurring injuries. When a gym member is hurt because of negligence, it’s important to know how to recover damages from the responsible party. Here is more on liability for injuries at gyms.
New York Gym Membership Agreements
When you joined your gym, you probably signed a membership agreement stating the facility’s rules and monthly dues. Your contract may have also included language, also known as a liability waiver, meant to protect the gym from being sued in the event of member injuries at gyms.
At first glance, your facility’s liability waiver may read as if you can’t sue and recover damages for the gym’s negligence. However, depending on the activity and circumstances, New York gym members may have actionable grounds for a negligence claim connected to injuries at gyms.
New York General Obligations Law Section 5-326
New York law provides that “[a]greements exempting pools, gymnasiums, places of public amusement or recreation and similar establishments from liability for negligence void and unenforceable.” In other words, liability waivers for negligence in New York gym contracts or other agreements may not be enforceable. Especially when they attempt to prohibit recovery for damages for injuries at gyms.
When Does Section 5-326 Apply?
Section 5-326 is intended to prevent gym owners and other types of businesses from including hidden language within an agreement that causes unknowing members to release negligent owners and operators from liability for injuries at gyms.
One factor that courts look to in deciding whether a gym’s agreement is governed by 5-326 is whether its use is instructional or recreational. Generally, the law will apply if a gym is used purely for recreational purposes. However, a facility used for recreation that also provides instructional services may or may not fall under the statute. The question of whether a facility is primarily recreational or instructional, or is both, is fact-intensive and should be reviewed with an experienced New York personal injury attorney.
Types of Gym Negligence
When a member uses a gym’s facilities, it’s reasonable for them to expect the premises to be kept in a safe condition and free of hazards. It’s also reasonable for the gym to expect members to follow its rules when using equipment or exercising in the environment. Therefore, members who uses equipment improperly or choose to exercise unsafely may be responsible for their injuries at gyms. Further, a member who exercises too vigorously and suffers an injury through routine activity within the gym is not likely to have a negligence claim against the facility. Under these circumstances, a gym may not be liable for member’ injuries at gyms.
On the other hand, a gym may be negligent if a patron is injured because the facility failed to:
- Maintain exercise equipment properly
- Remove malfunctioning or defective equipment from use
- Repair rips or damages to flooring
- Clear walkways of equipment and debris
- Provide safe lighting conditions
- Address known potentially dangerous issues such as a leak or spill
- Use qualified instructors or trainers
- Prevent instructors or trainers from using unsafe techniques
When a gym fails to provide its members with a safe place to exercise, any attempt to avoid responsibility through a liability waiver in a membership agreement will most likely be void and unenforceable. Member injuries at gyms can be serious and it’s important to work with experienced counsel if you have been harmed by gym negligence.
Gym Employee Conduct
Gyms are also responsible for protecting members and employees from harassing conduct. If, for example, a gym is aware of an employee engaging in sexually abusive conduct towards others at work and fails to address this behavior, the facility may be liable for harm caused by the abuser.
If you or a loved one have hurt because of gym negligence, you may be able to recover damages for your medical bills, lost wages and time at work, and other losses. Contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.
Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured at a New York gym, you should have an experienced personal injury attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available—se habla Español.