Posts Tagged ‘health club injuries’

Celebrity Trainer Client Suffers Injury and Files Lawsuit

When the trainer or facility is liable

Sore muscles and the occasional pulled ligament at the gym aren’t uncommon and are to be expected. Warming up before exercising and using the equipment correctly are the best ways to prevent injuries. One responsibility of the gym’s staff members and trainers is to assist clients in the proper use of the equipment.

Improper use of equipment and improper supervision can lead to serious trouble for both staff and clients.

A costly fall

A New York woman filed suit against her trainer after she was injured during a training session. According to the suit, Nicole Dickstein, 37, was seriously injured after falling off a balance ball. Dickstein alleges that the ball moved suddenly while she was standing on the side of the ball on one leg holding weights and with no support.

Dickstein’s $250 private training session with celebrity trainer Rich Barretta resulted in a torn hamstring. The injury required extensive surgery that included the insertion of hardware. The suit did not specify the damages Dickstein in seeking. The surgery alone had to run in the many thousands of dollars.

Injuries such as these not only rack up huge medical bills, but can incur the injured person lost wages, emotional trauma, hardship at home, and even derail life events such as weddings and vacations. If the trainer or the gym owner/operator is found liable for the injury, one or both can suffer huge financial losses, not only in compensation to the injured, but in attorney fees, court costs and more.

Protection for health clubs and trainers

We highly recommend that all personal trainers and fitness club owner/operators Treadmills as Health Club Risksread “Risks that Could Put Your Fitness Center Out of Business” and “Injuries at Gyms and Homes.”  

Sadler offers Fitness Instructor Insurance specifically designed to meet the unique needs of personal trainers of all types, including aerobics, yoga, and pilates.. We also offer several Health Club Insurance programs, one of which will meet your facility’s needs. You can get a fast quote by clicking the links above or calling 800-62-07370.


Source: Julia Marsh. “Mom sues celebrity trainer after suffering torn hamstring.” www.nypost.com. 05 Aug. 2016.

Critical Signage in a Fitness Center

Signs aren’t just for show


Signage in a fitness center serves several roles. Warning, policy / procedure, announcement and directional signs are all important to the safety of fitness center clients and protecting your business and staff from liability claims.

Warnings

These signs serve as silent staff members, reminding clients of safety procedures and cautioning them of potential dangers. These can include warnings of wet floors in sauna/jacuzzi/pool/shower areas, improper use of equipment, and use of spotters in weight areas. Warning signs should be professionally printed and posted strategically where they can be seen clearly and at eye level, or no higher than 6’ from the ground.

Policies & Procedures

These range from general policies posted at the front desk to issues of sanitation and courtesy throughout the facility. Examples include minimum age requirements of clients, policies for use of the locker rooms and showers, and use of equipment. These signs should also be printed professionally and placed in close proximity to the relevant area(s) no higher than 4 to 6’ from the ground. Decals on mirrors and glass doors/windows are useful for attracting attention to certain policies or instructions.

AnnounIMG_0012cements

Special events and classes take place in fitness centers on a regular basis. Signs alerting clients about the dates and details can be generated in-house by hand or computer and placed randomly, making sure they don’t interfere with or distract  from any safety or policy signs.

Directions

Signs denoting exits, ADA-facilities and equipment, emergency exit plans, location of safety equipment (fire extinguishers, first aid kits, alarms, etc.) should be professionally generated and posted per building regulations.

Despite the best efforts of your staff, accidents and emergencies will occur.  Your facility should have written emergency procedures in the event an injury illness or an emergency such as fire,tornado, power outage.

  • Every staff member (including independent contractors and volunteers) should receive a copy of the emergency procedures and required to sign that they have read and understood them. These procedures should be reviewed regularly at least once a year.
  • Staff members who work on the fitness floor should have Red Cross training in first aid. At least one CPR-certified staff member should be on site at all times.
  • If there is AED equipment (defibrillator) on site, at least one staff member trained in the use of the AED should be on site at all times.


Source:
David L. Harlowe, Chapter 27: “Fitness Center Safety,” Risk Management In Sport, Third Edition, 2012.

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.