Gym Lawsuits in Florida
There are a lot of duties you count on your gym to perform. They must maintain equipment, have enough equipment available, offer privacy, offer sanitary conditions, and remain open per membership promises. Given the current pandemic, many of these duties are compromised. This will surely lead to a few lawsuits, but if there isn’t a good cause, many of these lawsuits will be thrown out.
Good cause in a lawsuit against a gym can be difficult because most gyms have you sign a liability waiver upon becoming a member. However, this does not absolve them of all duties. A court can still hold a gym liable for gross negligence or intentional harm.
Negligence is the name of the game when it comes to a lawsuit regarding maintaining equipment. You may have signed a waiver that limits the gym from liability, but that does not mean the courts won’t hold them liable for gross negligence. This means that they cannot allow patrons to use equipment that is in disrepair to the extent that it makes it dangerous. Additionally, if the gym sub-contracts with another entity to maintain the equipment, the other entity can be held liable despite any waiver.
Most of the accidents that happen in gyms happen on workout equipment. The treadmill is a very common place for people to trip and fall. If the court determines that the fall was caused by a poorly-maintained treadmill, you may have a case.
There are also times when a gym may be held liable for knowingly exposing people to faulty equipment. Cheaply made weight sets, adjustable weights that break, or even a faulty shower knob can create a liability for the gym owner. This is why constant and consistent maintenance is necessary to reduce gym liability.
Availability of Equipment
Gyms struggle to keep the highest amount of members possible while maintaining equipment availability. Signing up for a gym membership is not a promise that a treadmill will be available upon arrival. However, many gyms have 30-minute policies. If you are planning on spending more than that amount of time on the machine, you’d better hope the machine is available.
It is hard to imagine a lawsuit based on equipment availability. It may result from wanting to pre-emptively cancel a gym membership based on consistently full machines. Still, it would have to be severe. The gym would have to be always full and still actively signing up new members. This business model is not likely to occur, but it is possible. The market usually intervenes in these situations by causing people to leave the gym. The possibility of a gym lawsuit based on equipment availability is unlikely.
There is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the gym, as it is a private establishment. Florida law generally allows security cameras in areas where privacy is not expected. The gym should not have cameras in the locker room or bathroom. However, they can have cameras in the spaces where workouts occur. This protects both the member and the gym depending on the situation, as cameras don’t lie. However, people with their smartphones are a different story.
Florida recommendations also state people should be informed that they are being recorded. This means gyms must place cameras in conspicuous locations or post notices the gym is surveilled by video. People have the understandable right to know when their actions are being documented.
Essentially, Florida wants its gym members to know if they’re being recorded. If a gym owner is secretly recording its members’ workouts and posting them online, the member could file a lawsuit.
The law expects gyms to be sanitary. There are many people in an enclosed place breathing heavily, sweating, and touching equipment. Makes it sound a little gross considering you go to the gym to improve your health. This creates a reasonable risk for infections, and gyms are supposed to engage in cleaning practices that keep conditions sanitary. Especially considering the current Covid-19 pandemic.
It is difficult to prove you got a disease, illness, or infection from your gym because you can contract these conditions anywhere. Some ways to provide proof may be multiple gym members contracting the same ailment, visibly unclean conditions, or continued complaints.
As far as the current pandemic goes, there are questions regarding sanitary conditions such as whether or not gyms should require masks. At this point, as long as they’re abiding by state orders, there’s probably no liability.
On a slightly different note, the state may sue gyms for not closing when there are stay-at-home orders. Again, these are uncertain times. It is not clear where the liability lies.
A gym can also be sued for continuing to charge members even when they are not open. This was the case in New York when a gym closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They continued to charge members, and the members filed a class action lawsuit. The gym in this instance actually refused to let people cancel their memberships as well. This is a bit of an over-the-top case where the gym prioritized money over ethics. Hopefully, the news media publicizes these cases , so other gyms do not replicate the errors.
Gross Negligence Defined
If a gym makes a mistake, it is unlikely that the courts will hold them liable because of liability waivers. Simply exercising caution when making business decisions should yield reasonable results. However, if a gym throws caution to the wind and ends up injuring people, gross negligence will create liability. Additionally, you can always refuse to sign or modify the liability waiver. The gym wants your membership, they will likely still let you workout as long as your are paying your dues.
Negligence means that the gym had a duty to perform, and they did not perform that duty. Additionally, that neglect must have caused some amount of harm. If a person is not harmed, then there is nothing for which the courts can award that can make things fair. If there is no harm, then there is no foul as far as civil court is concerned.
Gross negligence, on the other hand, takes negligence to the next level. This occurs when a person knows and understands their duty to act, but they don’t. For example, the gym employee sees the treadmill belt wearing, but he or she does nothing to prevent it from injuring a member. Gross negligence is different from regular negligence because it is beyond what is reasonable. It means that a person was undeniably and inexcusably wrong in their decision-making process.
Damages in Gym Lawsuits
Once you determine that you have just cause for a gym lawsuit, the question becomes one of damages. How much should the courts award you for your injury? There are many damages that the court may award. These include direct monetary losses like loss of work, medical bills, and physical therapy. They also include pain and suffering and punitive damages. In the case of gym lawsuits, there are typically some major grievances coupled with very erroneous actions. All forms of damage may apply.
Gym lawsuits are difficult to define or make any assurances about because there are so many possibilities. The important thing for a prospective plaintiff to know is that their choice of representation is crucial to success. When a person decides to file a lawsuit, he or she should do so with the help of a lawyer who can help them to make a solid case and collect the right information.
If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer whom you can trust, contact Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz to get a no-obligation consultation about your case. They will help to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve.