Visitor Question

No proper signage stating stair master was out of order?

Submitted By: Amy (Chicago, IL)

On 1/6/2016 I went to the gym around 9:30. I worked out obliques and then walked over to use the stair master. As soon as I stepped up on the steps the stairs started to tumble down fast, so I stepped up so I wouldn’t fall. I was trying to step off the stairs but because they where coming down so quickly I was unable to. The stair master was not functioning properly.

My right foot landed ok but my left foot didn’t land flat. I felt a pop and sat down on the ab machine near by for about 15 minutes. At 10:15 while sitting I looked up at the machine and was wondering why the stairs came down like that. Normally you can step up on the stair master and the stairs would not move until it was turned on.

I looked all the way up to the top of the machine and noticed a sign that said out of order.

The sign was not at eye level were I could see it. There was no tape around the stairs or another sign on the stairs. If I were standing next to the stair master machine the sign was 3 feet above my head.

I then hobbled to the locker room and sat down. When I got up again I realized that I was not able to stand. I asked someone in the locker room if they could let someone know and if they could bring me back an ice pack.

An ice pack was brought back, and 20 minutes later a girl asked me if she could help because there were no females working that could come into the locker room. The girl helped me hop to the front of the locker room and another guy came. They both lifted me and carried me to the front.

A report was filled out and 911 was called. I was taken to the hospital with my ankle ice packed and wrapped. 6 x-rays were taken and it was determined I had a sprained ankle. I had to miss 5 days of work. Do I have a case against the gym for getting injured on the broken machine? Or since they had a sign up it negates my case (even though the sign was difficult to see)? What can I do? Thank you.

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 Amy,

Before considering the filing of an injury claim against the fitness center owner it’s very important for you to thoroughly read your fitness center membership contract. Most fitness center membership contracts have within them a Liability Waiver and Release of All Claims.

These waivers normally have language similar to this:

“I on behalf of myself and my heirs, executors, administrators, guardians and assigns, and in consideration of my participation and use of the services, equipment and facilities offered by ABC Fitness Center hereby execute this Liability Waiver and Release of All Claims.

I understand by signing this agreement, I am waiving my rights to all claims for injuries and damages I might sustain while on the Fitness Center premises and I agree to indemnify, hold harmless and defend ABC Fitness Center for all such claims and damages.

I recognize and acknowledge that there are certain risks of physical injury to participants and damage to or loss of personal property from the use of the services, equipment and facilities offered by ABC Fitness Center including, but not limited to cardio equipment, weight machines, stair masters, treadmills, and other forms of physical activity…”

It is very likely you signed an agreement with similar language. Once you signed the agreement, you were subject to its terms. Additionally, albeit it not at your eye level, the fitness center did place signage on the machine indicating it was “out of order.”

To legally overcome the liability waiver and release of all claims, and the signage issue, will take a showing of gross negligence or a wanton disregard for your safety and well-being on the part of the gym. From the facts you present, those requirements aren’t present.

Finally, even if you were to overcome the gross negligence or wanton disregard for your safety requirements, your only injury was a sprained ankle. While you can ask the fitness center owner to reimburse you for your medical bills, you really don’t have sufficient evidence to succeed in a personal injury claim against the fitness center.

Learn more here: Injuries in Gyms and 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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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