Injured while working with personal trainer at a health club...

by Michael
(Rolling Hills Estates, CA)

I am a 65 year-old man, not in the best shape, and as part of my pledge to get in shape, I hired a personal trainer at 24 hour fitness health club. As part of this training I signed a waiver from the health club.

On the 3rd session I was given an exercise using a 20lb kettle bell (from a standing position thrusting the ball up to shoulder height). On the second rep I heard a 'pop' in my back and it literally knocked me to the ground. The trainer came to my aid and I rested while he completed an incident report.

I later went to my personal doctor who thought it was a muscle strain and prescribed pain medicine and rest. The next day the pain was too much and I was referred to an orthopedic who, with x-rays & MRI, diagnosed 2 compression fractures of my spine.

I was then referred to a interventional radiologist who performed Kyphoplasty (drilling out the fractures and injecting cement to close). I have had physical therapy and am still experiencing some pain and lack of mobility.

The original injury was in October 2015, the surgery was December 18, 2015. Do I have a case against the Health Club and/or trainer for not providing proper care? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Injured while working with personal trainer at a health club...":

Michael (Rolling Hills Estates, CA):

While your injuries are quite serious, you likely do not have the basis of a personal injury claim against the health club. Here's why...

To be liable for your injuries, the health club employee would have had to have acted willfully, or displayed a wanton disregard for your health and safety.

In other words, to be considered liable for your injuries and resulting costs, your trainer would have had to know the activity was likely to result in injuries, and with that knowledge disregarded that probability of injury, permitting you to lift that amount of weight. You didn't describe any evidence of that type of conduct.

The waiver you signed is valid. Once again, to overcome that waiver would require a showing of gross negligence, or a wanton disregard for your health and safety. That issue takes us right back to the trainer's actions.

Finally, there exists a legal doctrine referred to as "Assumption of the Risk." Assumption of the risk means a person knew, or should have known the activity he or she was about to be involved in could lead to injuries, and with that knowledge the person continued on with that activity.

In this case, you are 65 years old and admittedly are not in the best of shape. As a result, you knew, or should have known returning to physical exercise might result in soreness or even injury.

To read one of the controlling cases dealing with the issue of Assumption of the Risk in California read:

California Supreme Court Nalwa vs. Fair, Case No. S195031

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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