Liability for injury after falling from a stool in a fitness center?
(Fremont, CA, USA)
On January 29th, 2013 in at women’s locker room at a private gym I encountered a safety hazard due to management negligence. A stool which I sat down on had no screws to attach the seat and the legs fell apart. I fell on the floor, and the heavy seat flew away and hit directly on my right thumb.
As a result, my back, hip, wrists and thumbs were injured. I reported the injury to the club manager right after, and she had written down the incident report.
After the accident, I have been suffering from the pain and could not have regular activities as I used to have. For example, having regular daily exercise in the gym, doing house chores, sitting on a sofa, etc. I even have wrist and thumb pain, especially while driving, writing, twisting, pinching and so on.
I also have to spend so much time visiting doctors. I did different exams and tried so many therapies for the pain. My life quality has totally changed after the incident.
I thought the sport club should have a safe environment for its clients to be healthy without worry of any safety hazard, even though every member has signed waiver of liability form (including me).
My questions are in the following: Should the gym be liable for the accident? Does this incident qualify as gross negligence? What options do I have in this scenario? Thank you so much for your help.
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ANSWER for "Liability for injury after falling from a stool in a fitness center?":
Wenling (Fremont, CA, USA):
Unfortunately, as you know, most fitness centers have their members sign a waiver and release for injuries occurring on the premises. There is an exception which you have mentioned. That is "gross negligence," or a "wanton disregard" for the safety of members.
From the facts you present, there is no evidence the fitness center management or owners knew the chair was broken. Knowledge of it is a prerequisite. To have any chance of proving gross negligence or a wanton disregard for your safety, you would have to prove the fitness center management or owners knew, or should have known the chair was unsafe, and failed to take action to repair or replace the chair.
Moreover, even if they knew or should have known, and still failed to repair or replace the chair, that omission probably would not rise to the level of gross negligence or a wanton disregard for your safety.
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,
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