Headlines were made in late March this year when it was revealed Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies is suing a Melbourne gym after he suffered a serious injury while training there. The famous drummer seriously injured his shoulder after his trainer allegedly insisted he lift a weight which he claimed was too heavy. The injury has reportedly affected his ability to drum and partake in income generating appearances. Following the injury he has also suffered depression and anxiety.
As a result, Gillies is seeking compensation from both the gym and trainer. Unfortunately, injuries at the gym are common, and as Australians continue their love affair with all things health and fitness the number of injuries sustained at gyms also increases.
So what options do gym goers have when a well-intentioned fitness session results in injury? The right to pursue compensation for such an injury will largely depend upon the circumstances surrounding the injury.
Below are common scenarios when you may be entitled to compensation:
It is the responsibility of the gym to ensure their equipment is ‘fit for purpose’ and maintained properly. If your injury results from damaged equipment or a machine that breaks while you are using it then you would likely be entitled to pursue compensation. For example, a weights machine with a faulty mechanism causes a weight to fall on the user. In some cases a third party may be responsible for maintenance of equipment and both the gym and the third party may be held liable.
A personal trainer can be a motivating addition to one’s fitness regime, but when instruction from a personal trainer results in injury, a client may be entitled to claim compensation from the personal trainer and/or gym. When training under the supervision and guidance of a personal trainer one would expect they are guided with safe techniques and exercises appropriate to their fitness level. Like the example of drummer Ben Gillies, a personal trainer who fails to instruct a client safely or pushes a client over and above their skill level may be held liable for any injuries that result.
Injuries resulting from other gym members
Gyms attract all skill levels, from the very experienced gym junkie to the complete novice who doesn’t know how to use equipment properly. If you are injured by another gym member then you may be entitled to claim compensation from that individual, not the gym. Common examples include dropping a weight on someone else or using equipment in an inappropriate way that causes injury to others.
Failure to provide appropriate medical assistance
Following an injury, a gym that fails to provide adequate medical assistance could be held liable if the injury is exacerbated or complicated as a result. A gym should provide a safe environment for members to work out which means providing a first aid kit in a known risky environment. Failure to provide an adequate first aid kit and medical assistance from staff could mean the gym is partly liable for an injury that is exacerbated as a result.
When are you NOT entitled to compensation?
Training at a gym, and particularly resistance training, carries certain inherent risks. It is the responsibility of gym members to know their limits and use equipment properly. For example, a gym member who increases the speed on their treadmill to a point they can not keep up, causing them to fall and sustain an injury would not be entitled to compensation. Another example may involve a gym member who sustains injury after attempting to use a weights machine incorrectly. In both these cases, the gym can not be held liable.
In the case of the personal trainer, it is unlikely an injured client can claim compensation if they failed to disclose important information, such as a pre-existing injury or health condition. Personal trainers, whilst qualified to train other people, are not mind readers and a client who fails to communicate important information with their trainer may share responsibility for their injury.
What about the waiver?
If you’re a gym member then chances are you signed a waiver when you first joined up. Signing a waiver when you join a gym is standard practice and designed to offer protection to the gym. A waiver aims to prevent members from suing. However, a waiver can not remove a gym’s duty of care towards their members.
Under public liability laws, gyms still owe a duty of care to those who come on to their premises and failure to ensure the safety of patrons and a safe environment could render them negligent, despite a signed waiver from the patron.
If you’ve been injured at the gym and unsure if you are entitled to compensation, then it may be time to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced compensation lawyers. Taylor & Scott Lawyers are leading compensation experts and can meet with you for an obligation free case assessment. To arrange a meeting use our online contact form or call 1800 600 664.
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