Signed liability waivers are common at fitness centers and recreational facilities. You may be requested to sign this waiver, stating that you will not hold the company accountable for any injuries that you sustain on their property. However, after an accident, does that mean that the liability waiver you signed bars you from holding property owners accountable for negligence?
A personal injury lawsuit filed against LA Fitness was dismissed due to a liability waiver, reported by Club Industry. The victim, a 63-year old woman, filed a lawsuit against the company after she had fallen and fractured her wrist at an LA Fitness location in Philadelphia. She was under the supervision of the site’s trainer and was injured during an exercise dictated to her by staff. After the injury, she sustained nerve damage, which hindered her from doing what she used to do every day.
After the company submitted a three-page membership agreement to the courts, a summary judgment was given to LA Fitness and their parent corporation. In the second page of the agreement, it stated that there is a risk for injury while using their equipment or exercising on their premises. It also stated that the member agrees to accept full responsibility for their injuries, and that all members, officers, trainers, staff members, etc. are free from liability.
The victim’s signature was on each page of the agreement where it stated that she acknowledged the assumption of risk.
Does this mean that when someone signs an agreement with a company, he or she could be without recourse after an injury? While the LA Fitness example did favor the defense, that is not always the case with liability waivers.
Liability waivers are generally enforceable, but there are exceptions to this rule. While the courts may accept liability waivers to deny a plaintiff from seeking compensation, there are instances where the defense cannot use these waivers for a defense.
For example, the waivers do not protect the company from deliberate acts by employees. Had an employee deliberately harmed the woman, LA Fitness would be responsible for the actions and no liability waiver would cover deliberate harm to a patron.
Also, if a patron suffers injury because an employee had a blatant disregard for his or her safety, the court is less likely to allow the use of a liability waiver. Take, for example, when an employee has the patron use gym equipment inappropriately. In this instance, the trainer knows that the equipment is being used inappropriately and there is a risk for injury. Therefore, his or her disregard for the patron’s safety makes the employee and the employer liable.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured during an activity where you signed a liability waiver, you may still be entitled to compensation. Contact a premise liability attorney immediately to discuss your case and explore your options.