Can I Sue My Gym for Injury in Queensland?


Injuring yourself at the gym can be a frustrating experience. You might wonder if you can sue the gym for compensation. The answer is, it depends. While gyms will often have you sign liability waivers, these waivers can't absolve them of all responsibility if their negligence caused your injury. Companies relying on waivers will not be protected from liability automatically, and often many of these liability waivers will not be unenforceable in court. 

Therefore, if you have sustained an injury, even if you have signed a waiver, it is important to know that you may still have the right to bring a claim for compensation and you should contact a personal injury lawyer to obtain advice that is specific to your situation as soon as possible.  

Challenges for Gym Injury Claims

Here's why suing a gym for injury can be tricky:

Inherent Risks: Exercise inherently carries some risk of injury. An inherent risk is a risk of something occurring that can not be avoided by the exercise of reasonable care and skill. For instance, activities such as skydiving hold some inherent risks which can occur even if the owner/occupier exercises reasonable care and skill. 

This is what occurred in Marks v Skydive Holdings Pty Ltd. A person is not liable in negligence for harm suffered by another person as a result of the materialisation of an inherent risk (see section 16, Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld)).

Gyms also won’t be liable for injuries simply because they occur on their premises. For your claim to be successful, you must be able to prove that the gym acted negligently, and that these negligent actions caused the accident and your injury. 

Liability Waivers: Most gyms require you to sign waivers that limit their liability for accidents or injuries. However, these waivers can't completely shield them from legal responsibility if their negligence was a major factor.

Scenarios Where a Liability Waiver May Not Be Valid 

In certain circumstances, a liability waiver may not be valid: 

  • The waiver was not part of the contract: If it can be proved that the waiver did not form part of your contract with the company then the company will not be able to rely on the waiver. 
  • Poor drafting: Vague, unclear, or uncertain wording that fails to properly explain the risk or activity can go against the company attempting to enforce the waiver, and in your favour. 
  • The injured person is under 18: A waiver signed by a minor without the authorisation of a parent or guardian is unlikely to be effective. 
  • Negligent actions: If you can prove the provider breached their duty of care or the accident occurred because of their negligence, then you may still have the right to take legal action.

Circumstances When a Gym May Be Liable

It is likely you may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation against the gym if there is:

  • Faulty Equipment: The gym failed to maintain equipment properly, leading to your injury (e.g., a broken weight machine, or a slippery yoga mat).
  • Inadequate Supervision: The gym staff neglected to provide proper guidance or instruction, especially for complex exercises. This could be particularly relevant if you were a new gym member.
  • Unsafe Gym Conditions: The gym had dangerous conditions the staff knew about or should have known about, and they failed to fix them (e.g., wet floors, uneven surfaces, poorly lit areas).

Scenarios When a Claim May Be Less Likely

There are situations where suing the gym might be less likely to succeed:

  • Misusing Equipment: If you were using equipment incorrectly or for a purpose it wasn't intended for, and this caused your injury, the gym may not be held liable.
  • Pushing Yourself Too Hard: If you injure yourself by lifting weights beyond your capacity or pushing yourself too hard during an exercise class, it might be difficult to prove the gym's fault.
  • Unforeseen Accidents: In cases of sudden, unforeseeable accidents where the gym couldn't be reasonably expected to prevent them, a claim might be less likely.

Common Gym Injuries and Causes

Here are some examples of common gym injuries and their potential causes due to gym negligence:

  • Muscle Strains and Sprains: Lifting weights with improper form, inadequate instruction from trainers, or using faulty equipment.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Pushing yourself too hard during intense workouts without proper supervision from gym staff.
  • Slips and Falls: Wet floors, uneven surfaces, or poorly maintained exercise areas.
  • Weightlifting Injuries: Dropped weights due to faulty equipment or inadequate instruction on proper lifting techniques.

What to do if You're Injured at the Gym

Here's what to do if you're injured at the gym:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Get immediate medical attention for your injury and keep thorough medical records.
  • Report the Incident: Inform the gym staff about the accident and request an incident report.
  • Gather Evidence: If possible, take photos of the equipment or unsafe conditions that may have contributed to your injury.
  • Consult a Lawyer: A personal injury lawyer specialising in gym injury claims can assess your situation and determine if you have a strong case against the gym. They can also advise you on navigating the complexities of liability waivers.

Smith's Lawyers - Get Expert Advice

At Smith's Lawyers, we understand the complexities of gym injury claims. Our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise means you won't incur any upfront legal fees unless your claim is successful.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation on 1800 960 482. We service all of Queensland and have offices in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, and Toowoomba. 

Last updated:
May 20, 2024

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 help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.

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