An active lifestyle is a key component to a healthy, balanced life and attending the gym can be a great way of improving this. Visiting the gym is a regular occurrence in many of our daily and weekly routines, whether that be to work out, swim, or attend a class such as aerobics, circuit training, spinning or body pump for example.
As is often the case in the New Year people resolve to get fitter and healthier and many will join a gym in pursuit of this. Gym classes are a great way to start getting fit and healthy alongside other like-minded people. There is a sense of healthy competition and comradery. The feeling that “we are all in this together”.
However, as a consequence of more gym members, the number of accidents occurring in gym classes inevitably increases at this time of year.
Accidents that occur in the gym can sometimes result in serious injury and in certain circumstances it might be possible to make a personal injury claim.
I spoke to Charlotte Dowson, Associate in the Personal Injury Claims Team at Bolt Burdon Kemp who gave me the lowdown on what to do if you sustain an injury at the gym.
Common gym class accidents and injuries
Common causes of accidents arising in gym classes are:
- Inadequate or improper instruction by a trainer
- Faulty, defective or inadequate weights/equipment
- Incorrect use of weights/equipment by yourself or another gym user
- Weights/equipment not being cleared and put away properly
- Objects falling from heights
- Slipping or tripping, for example as a result of wet floors
These kinds of accidents can, unfortunately, lead to serious injuries such as head, back or neck injuries, muscle strains/sprains/tears, soft tissue damage, dislocation, broken bones, bruises, cuts and wounds.
A gym’s responsibility for accidents
Although gym membership contracts usually oblige members to sign a waiver and take some responsibility for any injury or accident at the gym, they don’t absolve gym owners from having a proper duty of care towards members. There are still circumstances where a gym will be held legally responsible.
Gym owners have a legal duty of care to protect members and ensure they can exercise safely on the premises and are required to meet certain standards to ensure the gym is a safe place to be, including:
Conducting a risk assessment – this involves risk being identified, determination of who could be harmed and how, evaluating the risks and deciding on control measures, recording these findings and periodically reviewing and updating risk assessments.
Staff health and safety training – It is vital gyms provide their employees with adequate training so they have the knowledge of how to keep members safe. This also includes first aid training.
Inducting new gym members – if members are not trained in how to use the weights/equipment safely and correctly, they could suffer certain injuries.
Supervision of users – When you attend a gym class, it is always the instructor’s duty of care to ensure the safety of their participants.
Equipment maintenance – it is important that the gym regularly carries out checks and maintenance of equipment.
What to do if you have been injured
If a gym fails to comply with their duty of care towards you as a gym member and as a result of this an accident occurs in which you were injured then you may be able to make a claim against the gym for personal injury.
It is also always recommended to seek immediate medical assistance when required. You should also report the accident to a member of staff and ensure the details are recorded in an accident book.
Taking photographs of any dangerous or faulty equipment or where the accident occurred would also be a good idea as would obtaining contact details from any witnesses to the accident, as they may be able to provide evidence in a potential personal injury claim.
A personal injury claim is designed to put you back into the position you were in before the accident occurred so far as it is possible and can compensate you for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity and any associated financial losses you have incurred or are likely to incur in the future.
Financial losses could include loss of earnings, pension loss, private treatment and rehabilitation (such as physiotherapy) costs, care and assistance and travel expenses for example.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident and want to make a claim then you need to do so within 3 years of the date of your accident.
Court proceedings must be issued ahead of this deadline in order to protect any right to compensation that you may have. Whilst there may be some exceptions to this rule, it is very important to take legal advice at as early a stage as possible.