Who is Responsible for Ohio Gym Injuries? 

Doug Mann

Many people injured at gyms and fitness centers in Ohio wonder whether someone else, such as the gym owner, may be liable for those injuries. The answer depends on several different factors, including who caused the injury and whether the injured person has waived their right to pursue compensation. 

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Table of Contents
  1. Negligence in Gym Injuries
  2. Product Liability Claims after a Gym Injury
  3. Talk to an Ohio Gym Injury Lawyer Right Away

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) 377,939 people around the country suffered exercise and exercise-equipment-related injuries in 2020. That’s not including hundreds of thousands of injuries sustained on basketball courts and other indoor gym facilities, drownings, and other pool-related injuries. 

Negligence in Gym Injuries

Gym Owners and Operators

The first question to ask is typically whether the gym management was in some way responsible for the injury. Ohio law requires those who own and manage property to maintain it in reasonably safe condition for people who enter on the property. The standard is different depending on the reason the injured person was on the property. 

A business owner owes the highest duty of care to its customers, which includes an obligation to inspect the premises, ensure that they are in safe condition, and either correct any dangerous conditions or clearly warn visitors about them. In the context of a gym or fitness center, that could mean anything from a wet floor that’s slippery to a piece of equipment that isn’t functioning properly.

It might also involve an instructor or personal trainer at a gym instructing or encouraging a member to use a faulty technique that can cause injury, lift more weight than they can manage, or otherwise providing flawed coaching that leads to injury. 

If the business owner/operator failed in this duty and a gym member or guest was injured, the business would generally be liable for damages. However, it’s common for this type of facility to make members sign a liability waiver. 

What if I Signed a Liability Waiver at the Gym? 

Generally, Ohio courts uphold clear liability waivers, even if the business was negligent. However, there are exceptions. Claims based on “willful and wanton conduct” typically can’t be waived in advance. And, the terms of the waiver must be clear.

So, you shouldn’t assume that because you signed a waiver, you have no options. The waiver may be unenforceable due to ambiguity, or may not apply because of the nature of the conduct. You may also have claims against a third party that are unaffected by the waiver.

Even if you’ve signed a negligence waiver, it’s in your best interest to talk to an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury. At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, we offer free consultations to Ohio injury victims. It won’t cost you anything to learn more about whether you may have a claim for damages. And, if we take your case, you won’t pay anything unless and until we settle your case or win a verdict for you at trial. 

Other Gym Members and Visitors

Sometimes, someone else working out at the gym–or just sharing space–is negligent and causes or contributes to an injury. That may mean spilling water and not cleaning it up or notifying anyone, using equipment in a way that creates a danger to others in the vicinity, leaving equipment in an unsafe position, or any other negligence that could lead to someone getting hurt. 

While other gym members don’t have a responsibility to make the premises safe or warn others like the company does, they may be liable for hazards they created or injuries they caused. Sometimes, the injured person doesn’t know who the member who contributed to their injury was.

That needn’t necessarily be an obstacle. There may be security footage that would help your attorney identify the person, or your lawyer may be able to obtain records to show who else was in the gym at the time of your injury and investigate from there. 

The most significant roadblock to collecting from another member whose negligence caused your injury is that many people don’t have sufficient assets to pay damages in full, especially after a serious injury. This is just one reason that it’s important to explore and investigate all possible responsible parties. 

What if the Injured Person Was Negligent?

In Ohio, someone who partly caused their own injuries may still be able to recover partial damages. For example, if the injured person was found to be 10% responsible for their own injuries, the compensation available would be reduced by 10%. That means if medical bills, lost work time, and other losses totaled $50,000, the injured person might be able to collect $45,000. There is a limit, though. If you’re more than half responsible, you won’t be entitled to compensation.

Product Liability Claims after a Gym Injury

Most gym injuries are attributable to something that goes wrong on site, and that typically means the gym, the injured person, or another person at the gym. But, sometimes injuries happen because the equipment is defective.

Note that there’s a difference between defective equipment and poorly maintained equipment. Substandard maintenance might give rise to a negligence claim against the gym. 

Defective equipment–equipment that was poorly designed, manufactured with substandard parts or materials, or poorly assembled–might be the basis for a product liability claim.

You may also have a product liability claim if the manufacturer of the equipment failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions for using the equipment safely.

An expert tip from Doug Mann

Unlike premises liability claims, a product liability claim is not based in negligence. Rather, the manufacturer of a product is strictly liable for harm caused by defective products. That means they’re responsible for actual damages such as medical expenses, lost income, therapy, services necessitated by the injury, and others even if they took reasonable care with the manufacture and design of the product and didn’t know there was anything wrong with it. If the company acted with “flagrant disregard for safety,” then it may also be liable for punitive damages. 

Talk to an Ohio Gym Injury Lawyer Right Away

Navigating a gym injury claim can be complicated. If you don’t identify all responsible parties, you could end up with only partial compensation, or even no compensation at all. And, it can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the language to determine whether and to what extent a liability waiver is enforceable. Finally, expert witnesses are often required to prove product liability claims, long-term economic damages, and other elements of the case. 

The best way to protect your claim is to get personalized advice from an experienced Ohio injury lawyer as soon as possible. You can schedule a free consultation right now by calling 937-222-2222 or filling out the contact form on this site. 

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