Visitor Question

Does a fitness center’s waiver of liability cover injuries on their sidewalk?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Reston, Virginia)

I was walking into my fitness center on 1/9/2018 and slipped on a patch of untreated black ice at the base of a handicap cutaway. I broke the fall with my forehead, was unable to walk (unsteady), and was bleeding from a gash. An employee who was in the parking lot ran for help.

The person who treated me inside was a member, not an employee. I did not get any further help or first-aid from employees. The fitness center’s general manager arrived while I was waiting for the ambulance and took my name and phone number.

The parking lot and sidewalks appeared to have been treated. I was not distracted. They probably have security footage for that morning that might show my fall and might show them treating the sidewalks and parking lot.

I was transported to the ER via ambulance. I got 6 stitches for the gash and they said I likely had a concussion. Symptoms I’ve had this week support that assumption.

The General Manager called me on 1/10 and said they were giving me a free month and that he had contacted his insurance company to see if there was anything they could do, but that I’d signed a waiver of liability and they were not responsible for any injuries on the premises. The waiver also states that if you sue the club, you have to pay for THEIR legal fees.

I have insurance, but I feel the club should cover my medical expenses and lost work. What can I do? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

Many fitness center waivers of liability contain language such as the following:

“The member agrees all exercises and use of the fitness centers are undertaken by the member at sole risk of the member, and that the fitness center shall not be liable for any claims for injuries or damages whatsoever to person or property of the member or of a guest of a member arising out of or connected with the use of the fitness center. Member agrees to indemnify and to hold the center and its employees harmless from all claims by or liability to member or member’s guest, except for those claims arising out of the centers knowingly failing to correct a dangerous situation brought to its attention.”

In your case it is arguable the fitness center waiver does not extend to property outside its facility. Presuming the fitness center owned or leased the property, they had a duty to take reasonable action to eliminate the ice, or at a minimum to cordon off the area so as to warn people not to walk through it. Based on the facts, neither of those occurred. Their failure to take reasonable steps to protect you constituted negligence.

The offer of a free month of membership likely does not cover the cost of your medical treatment and other damages. At a minimum, the fitness center should be libel for your medical treatment, your out-of-pocket expenses (for items such as medications, costs of travel to treatment, bandages, etc.), your lost wages, and your pain and suffering.

Inasmuch as the fitness center has denied liability, and in light of the seriousness of your injuries, you would be best served by speaking with a personal injury attorney. Most injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations, nor do they charge any legal fees upon accepting a case. The attorneys are only paid when and if they settle your claim, or win it at trial. If they fail, you owe them nothing,

Learn more here: Gyms/Fitness Centers

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

Best of luck,


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