Posts Tagged ‘fitness instructor liability insurance’

Top 4 Legal Issues Health Clubs Face

Posted | Filed under Health Clubs

Maintaining industry compliance is the key to avoiding liability   

Your health club is thriving with new and renewing members; business couldn’t be better. Now isn’t the time to be complacent about compliance to industry standards and regulations. Failure to meet compliance leaves you and your facility exposed to liability.

The four areas that pose the most potential for risk are emergency procedures, staff certification, protective documentation, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Take the time to learn what steps you can take to avoid liability and ensure your facility is compliant in these areas.

  1. Emergency Procedures

Accidents, pre-existing health issues, and other factors can be the cause of an emergency situation in any health club. It’s your responsibility to have an emergency plan Fitness clubin place and ensure your staff is familiar with it. There are legal issues involved when administering emergency care. Knowing the risks is the first step in protecting you, your staff and your health club from liability.

“Good Samaritan” legislation offers some level of immunity from liability, but is limited to negligence. It doesn’t protect against reckless or grossly negligent conduct. Two requirements must be met in order to enjoy Good Samaritan immunity:

  • Aid must be given at the scene of the emergency.
  • Rendering aid in good faith, which means that assisting the victim was the intention of those offering emergency care. Immunity can be denied if there is evidence that the motive was monetary reward or attention in the press.

Good Samaritan laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to familiarize yourself and your staff with the legislation in your area.

Use of Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

health club insuranceCertain businesses are required to house AEDs. A few examples of these are schools, airports, medical facilities and public swimming pools.  Legislation varies from state to state on which businesses are mandated to house AEDs. However, housing of these devices is encouraged by the American College of Sports Medicine  and the American Heart Association for health clubs that have more than 2,500 members, provide programs for high-risk clients, and/or are in a location where emergency response time is typically more than five minutes.

If your club decides to house an AED, be advised that mandatory legal duties will arise. Please see our article “Use of Defibrillators in Fitness Clubs” which includes an infographic with helpful tips for maintaining and training staff on the use of AEDs.

  1.      Staff Certification

It’s your responsibility to confirm that your staff members are current with their fitness certifications. Lapsed staff certifications leave you and your facility vulnerable to allegations of misrepresentation. Many clubs post lists of their staff members and qualifications. Lapses in any certification can be construed as misleading.

Steps you can take to prevent lawsuits:

  • Develop a system for tracking expiration dates of all employee and independent contractor certifications
  • Remind staff periodically to renew certifications, either in staff meetings, written memos or email.
  • Increase staff awareness of potential legal consequences of non-compliance awareness.
  • Offer staff incentives for keeping certifications current, and penalize employees or independent contractors who collected fees during any period of lapsed certification.

3. Protective Documents

Waivers / releases are intended to protect health clubs and their owners and staff against claims of regular or ordinary negligence. They don’t, however protect against grossly negligent or reckless conduct. All members should sign a separate waiver / release agreement for the protection of your facility and its staff.

For more information on waivers and releases, please see our article, “Are Waiver Release Agreement Worth the Paper They are Written On?” We also sample waiver forms in our risk management library.

4. The Americans with Disabilities Act

A primary goal of the Americans with Disabilities Act goal is to make sure that businesses do all that they “reasonably” can for people using their facilities who have disabilities.  Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment that enables a disabled person to participate in the daily operations of the facility.

Such accommodations can be as simple as offering extra assistance for disabled members, such as assistance in transferring from a wheelchair to seated equipment or posting large print signs for the visually impaired. ADA does not require fitness facilities to fundamentally alter operating procedures that could risk the safety of others.

Our risk management library is full of information that can help you minimize risks to your business. Call us at (800) 622-7370 if you have questions about risk management or want to receive an insurance policy quote based on your unique needs.

 

Source: Sean Riley, “Risk Management: Is Your Club Compliant or Complacent?” ideafit.com.

 

 

Risks that Could Put Your Fitness Center Out of Business (Infographic)

Taking care of the not-so-obvious

Running a fitness center is no small feat due to the constant management of contract employees, members, front desk agents, maintenance staff and the like. Collecting member dues and keeping your numbers up is probably one of your greatest concerns, but you also have major risks that you need to manage in order to survive.

Fitness Center

Want to display this Infographic on your own site? Just copy and paste the code below into your blog post or web page:

The 5 Hidden Risks

Disaster-related loss
Studies have shown that nearly 60% of businesses are underinsured, leaving them vulnerable to significant losses in the face of natural disasters. Protect your fitness club by investing in adequate health club insurance coverage and having a set recovery plan in place to minimize your risk for total loss.

Emergency losses
Accidents happen every day – explosions, violent acts, outbreaks of disease such as Legionella. These incidents can significantly impact both your finances and your reputation.  Speak with your insurance agent and make sure that your business is adequately covered for catastrophic liability and property losses.

Cyber-security breach
You store a lot of member data on your computer system: birthdays, home addresses, and even credit card numbers are kept on file. Did you know that nearly half of all businesses have experienced a data breach? However, only one in 10 of those businesses are covered for cyber liability.  A Cyber Risk policy should protect your fitness center from client data breaches in the event that negligence on the part of your company is determined to be the cause of breach.

Personal trainer liability
If your fitness facility employs personal trainers, you may be liable for their negligent behavior, even if they’re only contract employees. Sexual harassment, physical injury, even poor dietary advice can result in a lawsuit against your company. It is safest to require your contract trainers to carry their own General Liability/Professional Liability policies.  However, some fitness facilities choose to add coverage for contract trainers under their fitness facility policy.

Treadmill Injuries
You see them all the time. One of your clients will be running on a treadmill, nose in a book, texting, or bobbing along to their iPod. Such multitasking often leads to injuries for which you are likely to be liable. The average cost of any treadmill-related incident is $250,000.

Protecting your fitness facility from injury claims

Did you know that Fitness Center Insurance is critical for all health clubs and gyms? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin you and or your business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Getting the right insurance coverage does not have to be complicated if you work with an agency like SADLER. The insurance experts at SADLER understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your fitness facility. If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, simply apply online now or call 800-622-7370.

There are absolutely no obligation or commitments, and your quote will be sent in just a few hours in most cases. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, you’ve got nothing to lose!

 

Source – Hidden Risks Faced by Fitness Centers

 

Fitness Trainers: How To Avoid Liability Landmines (Infographic)

Legalities, liabilities and other not-so-fun stuff

Anyone willing to start up a business and risk personal and financial loss to live their dream has to have imagination.The fitness industry has its share of entrepreneurs, as seen in the boon of independent fitness instructors and personal trainers.

The practical aspects of creating and maintaining a business are just as important as creativity, passion and energy. Liability will always be an issue for fitness trainers because they offer a personal service. Protecting yourself, your business and your assets is a significant element of a successful personal training business. The first layer of protection is determining if you could defend yourself if a client under your supervision were to become injured. The key questions listed below the infographic will help you make this determination.

Protecting Clients

Want to display this Infographic on your own site? Just copy and paste the code below into your blog post or web page:


  • Are you adequately trained and certified in the activities you supervise?
  • How did you screen the client for the activity in which he/she was involved?
  • Did the client sign an informed consent and release form?
  • Was the client given instructions appropriate for his/her age and health conditions?

Paperwork can be pesky, but it’s crucial

There are essential documents your clients must sign before receiving any services. Keeping these documents on file is important and might be be the key to any potential claim against you. Have an attorney review a draft of these documents to make sure you’re protected and looking out for the clients’ best interests. Below are four documents that should be part of  an independent personal trainer’s arsenal and signed by every client prior to any training :

  1. Waiver/release and assumption of risk.  At best, the waiver / release part of this form will allow the fitness trainer to escape liability by having the lawsuit dismissed on summary judgment. At worst, this form will help the trainer to establish an assumption of risk defense. This document should be reviewed with the client and the client be given the opportunity to ask questions about the risks and benefits of the program. The client should be over 18 years of age to sign or have a parent/guardian sign the form.
  2. Client records. Keep detailed records of all observations, program changes and instructions for each client. It’s important to include all special instructions, warnings or limitations, progress notes, and injury information including details of any aid administered.
  3. Physician consent/clearance. Clients you consider to be high or moderate risk should be required to obtain medical clearance. Risk level can be assessed by going over the client’s health and exercise history.
  4. Fitness assessment. Determining whether clients can safely participate in an exercise program without any obvious risks injury. An initial screening helps you establish the client’s fitness level and set goals for their individual program. Follow-up assessments should be repeated occasionally to monitor progress.

Risky business

Many personal trainers sell dietary supplements and offer nutritional advice to their clients. Counseling clients on supplements can be risky for trainers not specifically educated and certified in those areas. Only registered dieticians should recommend or supply nutritional supplements. Believe it or not, a personal trainer who supplies or distributes supplements can get caught up in a product liability suit.

Spotting potential risks

It’s important to let your clients know your job is to help, not push. Clients may, for whatever reason, neglect to inform trainers of a “minor” ache or pain. Let your clients know that their program can always be modified to avoid injuries, which often occur when red flags are ignored. Let clients know you’re trained to determine the difference between general soreness and actual strain.

Other helpful articles and downloadable forms are available on our risk management page.

Protecting you and your business from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all fitness trainers? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your and your fitness training business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Finding the right insurance coverage doesn’t have to be complicated. Our insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your personal training business.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, apply online now or call us 800-622-7370.

There are no obligation or commitments when you call, and your quote will be sent in just a few hours in most cases. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, you’ve got nothing to lose.

 

Source: “The Liability Involved in Running a Personal Training Business,” entrepreneur.com. 22 May, 2014.

Sadler Sports “Hottest Fitness Instructor” 2011

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is pleased to announce the winners of the Facebook “Hottest Fitness Instructor” contest. The winner was determined by the most “likes” and nominations from group members and other participants.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER:

Congratulations to Jill Berardelli Vadala of Fredericksburg, Virginia!

Jill will receive a $50 American Express gift card.

Due to the great response from our Fitness Instructors we have also chosen a runner-up.

RUNNER-UP:

Rebekah Kirshke

Rebekah will receive a $25 American Express gift card.

Thank you, ladies, and all those who participated. We hope that you enjoyed the contest. We enjoyed reading the comments that others left for you as well.

If you would like more information on the personal trainer insurance provided by Sadler Sports and Recreation, visit us today!

Personal Trainers and Dietary Supplements

Fitness instructors must work within the limits of their certification

All personal trainers and fitness instructors want to see their clients get results from the training that they provide, but where does the training and advice stop?  A case that has made it to the New York State Supreme Court detailed in the New York Times article “Health Club and Trainer are Sued in a Death” shows what can happen when a trainer goes too far in advising clients on dietary supplements.

A Cost of Health Club Injuries

Prompt reporting of injuries can reduce legal fees

Kim Marshall was injured while working out on a treadmill at Bally’s in Tacoma, Washington. As a result of her injuries, Marshall filed suit against Bally’s Pacwest, Life Fitness, the company that manufactured and owned the treadmill, and Washington Athletic Repair, the company that installed and maintained the treadmill. There were some discrepancies as to what actually caused Marshall to be ejected from the treadmill, and it was this discrepancy that led to the dismissal of her suit.

The following facts where established in Marshall’s original deposition: She set the treadmill at 2.5 miles per hour for fifteen minutes. The treadmill abruptly stopped at thirteen minutes. Ms. Marshall reset the machine, but it restarted at 6.2 miles per hour instead of the slower pace she had initially programmed. This sudden start threw her backward, causing her to strike her head against a plexiglass wall. The blow to the head resulted in a brain injury.

However, when questioned at trial, Ms. Marshall said she could not remember anything after resetting the machine. She could not recall the speed the machine restarted at or even if she was thrown backward into the plexiglass wall or to the side against something else. Her attorney stated that she had a two-week memory lapse following the brain injury.

The trial court concluded that once she testified in court that she could not remember what actually happened after she reset the treadmill, she could not point back to her deposition and assert that previous testimony as fact. And because she could not tell the court what the machine did when she reset it, she had no proof that the machine malfunctioned at all. The court reasoned it was just as likely that she tripped, fainted, or fell after resetting the machine because there is no other evidence to establish what happened.

Marshall attempted to win on another legal theory called spoliation, which is the intentional destruction of evidence. This theory is based on the assumption that, when one party intentionally destroys evidence relevant to a case, that evidence must have been unfavorable to them. In this case, Marshall’s injuries occurred in May 1993, and her attorney did not ask to examine the treadmill until September 1997. After Marshall’s injury, the treadmill remained in use at Bally’s. In November 1993, Washington Athletic replaced the CPU in all Life Stride 9500 treadmills, including the one at issue. Marshall’s attorney had not requested that the CPU be preserved. That same treadmill remained operational until April 1997, when its frame broke. At this time, the machine was returned to Life Express for replacement. The court concluded that, because Marshall’s attorney did not request to inspect the machine until four years after the incident, Bally’s could not be held accountable for having destroyed evidence.

Finally, the court also took into account the waiver clause in Ms. Marshall’s Membership contract with Bally’s. The clause stated, in part, that

“the club member is “voluntarily participating in these activities and assume(s) all risks of injury… that might result” and that the member agrees “to waive any claims or rights (the member) might otherwise have to sue (Bally’s) a factor, the court took into consideration when dismissing Marshall’s claim the fact that she could not prove that her injury resulted from any malfunctioning of the treadmill she was using. “–   Marshall V. Ball’s Pac West, Inc., 972 P.2d 475, (Wash.1999).

In My Opinion

Proper accident and injury reporting can go a long way in documenting proper practice and enhance the ability to succeed in litigation.  In the above case, if witnesses observed that the plaintiff tripped and wasn’t thrust from the treadmill as she stated, the claim could have immediately been dismissed, thus avoiding expensive legal defense fees.  Prompt accident investigation procedures including written witness statements are important.

Article Compliments of From the Gym to the Jury, Volume 1, Number 1.