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Gym Injuries. Can You Claim Compensation?

Working out at the gym

Joining a gym is something that you do in an effort to get fit and improve your health. But sometimes injuries happen. This is a short article which explores what happens if you are injured while working out or on the premises of your gym, and what your rights are.

Gym injuries and your rights 

Injuries can happen when you are at the gym - whether you are working out on the treadmill or pumping some iron. When you are injured you may be wondering if there is any responsibility for your injuries and the subsequent loss you may have suffered. 

Common injuries occurring during gym workouts can include:

  • Muscle strain
  • Stress fractures
  • Tendon and joint injuries
  • Tendinitis
  • Knee injuries

It’s good to know what you are signing up for when you do join a gym - especially if you have joined a gym where it is a 24-hour gym with premises left uninspected for long periods of time. While most people will sign a contract, it’s important that you read about the terms and conditions of the gym so that you know what you are getting into.

Get expert advice now: Smith's are Queensland's only 100% risk-free injury compensation lawyers. Insist on our 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch' ® promise. Check your rights with no risk or obligations now and talk direct to our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith. Call 1800 266 801 OR  check if you can claim

Read the fine print when signing up to a gym 

Gym contract

Whenever you join a gym you will sign a contract. In the contract you will have certain terms and conditions, some of which may attempt to waive the responsibility of the gym for any injuries. 

A waiver is a way for gyms to alleviate their responsibility in the event that someone is injured, and attempts to remove the capacity for someone who has been injured to sue. 

However, a waiver does not allow a gym to escape their responsibilities entirely. A duty of care exists between ‘occupiers and entrants’, that is, gym owners and gym visitors, which places a duty upon the gym owners to provide their services with due care and skill. The premises must also be fit for purpose. If the premises do not meet this standard, and a person is injured as a result of this, then they may be entitled to sue for negligence. 

For example: 

Juanita is using the treadmill and she is running as fast as she can, at a speed that is beyond her capacity. She slips on the edge of the treadmill and falls off, breaking her wrist. Because Juanita’s accident happened as a result of not running within her limits, she would not be able to sue the gym for her injuries. 
Travis is lifting weights and using a barbell. The barbell has not been checked in a while, and the scheduled maintenance of all weights has not taken place for the past three months. The barbell slips and injures Travis, crushing his fingers. Because Travis’ injury was likely caused by the negligence of the gym owner in not providing safe premises, he would likely be able to sue the gym for his injuries and any loss he has suffered.  

Staying safe at the gym

Even though it is possible for you to sue a gym owner if you have been injured due to their negligence, you sill have a duty to take due care when you are at the gym. Obviously, the best-case scenario is that you are not injured at all, but let’s consider a couple of scenarios. 

  • You are using a piece of gym equipment negligently: In this instance it would likely be difficult for you to recover any losses suffered due to your injuries. 
  • You are injured due to faulty equipment or machinery: If the gym owner was the one responsible for your injuries you may be eligible to claim for your injuries.
  • You are injured by another gym member: In this case, the person who has caused your injury is at fault - not the owner of the gym. While the situation may change it is ultimately up to you to make a claim for compensation against that person; claiming against the gym is unlikely to succeed.

Injury when working out with a personal trainer

Personal trainer talking to client

When working out with a personal trainer you are expecting to be pushed to your limits. And while you want to train hard it’s hoped that you won’t go so hard you are injured. 

As with a gym-based injury, you will not be able to claim any loss or damage suffered if you are injured by something other than the negligence of your trainer. However, if you are injured due to the negligence of your trainer you may be able to claim for any loss suffered

For example:

Logan is working out with his trainer and has an old knee injury that he has not told his trainer about. His trainer decides to set Logan particularly onerous set of lunges, during which Logan suffers a knee injury. Logan would likely not be able to claim the loss or damage suffered due to this injury because he did not warn his trainer about his existing condition. 

Injuries in 24-hour gyms

24 gyms open all hours

A new trend that has established itself in recent years is the trend of the 24-hour gym. If you are injured while using a 24-hour gym the cause of the injury depends on who is at fault. If the gym equipment and premises are kept in good working condition while you are using the facilities then it is unlikely that the gym will be at fault.

What time limit applies if I got injured at the gym?

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.

In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

Your legal rights when injured at the gym

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety when you use a gym. If you are injured and the injury was caused by the negligence of the gym - say, for example, the equipment was not maintained as it should have been - then you are likely eligible to seek compensation. 

If your injury was caused by inexperience or your own fault then you will likely not be able to seek personal injury compensation. 

You need to stay alert and remain aware while you are using gym equipment, and always remember to work out within your limits.

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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