Injured at condo fitness center and never signed a waiver...

by Jay

I was working out in the gym of my condo complex when the straps that holds the weights snapped, causing me to fall and get a severe injury, including a dislocated neck disc as well as spinal disc. There is a video that shows the accident.

The thing is, my condo complex manager says that I was supposed to wear a safety belt. But the safety belt is not visible on this machine and also the machine doesn't indicate that I was supposed to wear one.

I believe that whether I was wearing a safety belt or not, I still would have been injured because of the faulty machine. In any case, if I would have known that there was a safety belt to be worn I would have surely put in on. Do I have a case? What can I do?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injured at condo fitness center and never signed a waiver...":

Jay (NJ):

The fitness center (condo) owners had a legal duty of care to do everything reasonably possible to ensure their fitness equipment was safe for those who paid to use it. In your case, the owners breached that duty of care.

You appear to have a very strong claim against the fitness center's owners. Your claim will be based on their negligence in permitting the straps to break. Their actions or omissions leading up to the snapping of the strap is referred to as their negligence.

However, the owners may have an affirmative defense. If they can show they did dutifully examine the straps for wear and tear, and in so doing found no evidence of danger, they may escape liability.

To succeed in your injury claim will require evidence showing the owner's knew, or should have known the straps were weak or defective, and with that knowledge wholly failed to take appropriate action to repair or replace the straps.

Moreover, in addition to a claim against the owners, you may have a separate claim against the manufacturer of the fitness equipment. This type of claim is referred to as a defective product or product liability claim.

Whether or not you wore a safety harness only becomes a factor when considering mitigation of damages. Presuming you succeed in your injury claim(s) against the owner and manufacturer, they may contend your injuries wouldn't have been as serious if you had been wearing a safety harness.

This presumes they had posted, or otherwise made clear to users of the fitness equipment that wearing a safety harness was required.

Proving your claim will require pre-trial discovery. Depositions, interrogatories and other methods of discovery will be required to elicit evidence of negligence and/or product liability. As you've already seen, the owners aren't going to accept liability. They are in effect accusing you of contributory negligence.

You will need an experienced personal injury attorney. Most won't charge for an initial office consultation, and will accept your case on a contingency fee basis.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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