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Gym Accident Claims: How to Get Compensation
Gym membership in the UK
Every January thousands of people in the United Kingdom make a resolution to start attending the gym on a regular basis and a few of them even make it into the first week of February. In all seriousness, going to a gym on a regular basis is something which can’t fail to boost a person’s good health, helping to fight problems such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, obesity and boosting mobility and overall fitness.
It has to be remembered, however, that a lot of the equipment used in a modern gym features large and heavy components which, if not handled correctly, could result in injury to the person using them, and also that an adequate level of supervision should be in place to ensure that gym users do not push themselves too hard and thus cause injury.
The scale of the problem
Although it is difficult to gather statistics which relate specifically to injuries sustained whilst attending a gym, there is no doubt that sporting activity in general, which is entirely positive in very many respects, is responsible for many of the injuries which lead to people attending Accident and Emergency units within the UK. According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, injuries sustained whilst playing sport amounted to 348,897 (1.9%) of all patients attending A and E during the year 2013-14.
Gyms and the law
Although there are no specific laws relating to safety within gymnasiums, they are covered by the general legislation set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The stipulations within this act apply not only to people working within the gym but also to those visiting, and include a legal duty to ensure that all equipment is maintained in the safest possible condition, that floors are kept free from obstructions, water and any other faults which could cause slips and falls and that the people using the equipment – either staff or visitors – should be fully informed as to how to do so in a manner which will avoid injury.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 altered the law in this area to a degree which meant that a claim for negligence due to the poor maintenance of equipment now requires a higher burden of proof. In the past, the rules of strict liability applied, meaning that a failure of equipment would be regarded as negligent even if it could be showed that the owner of the equipment had taken reasonable steps to maintain it. Under the new legislation the person making the claim has to demonstrate that negligence has, in fact, occurred, in the form of a failure to inspect, maintain and repair the equipment in question, or any other omission which can be shown to have led directly to the accident in question, and that the owner of the gym should have foreseen that the injury might end up taking place.
One of the stipulations set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act is that organisations should carry out regular risk assessments in order to maintain the highest possible levels of safety for staff and visitors alike. In the case of a gymnasium, a risk assessment would have to include the following factors:
- Equipment sourced from reputable suppliers and manufactured for professional as opposed to home use.
- Equipment installed, serviced and monitored in line with the manufacturer’s stipulations. All checks and repairs carried out by competent individuals and written records maintained.
- Defective equipment should immediately be removed until repaired.
- The space surrounding all equipment should be sufficient for safe use and dismounting.
- Clients should be shown how to use equipment by a trained instructor.
- Instructions should also include written signs close to the equipment.
- A record of the induction should be kept, as well as a signed copy of the gym rules.
Code of practice
As well as being covered by health and safety legislation, gyms can be expected to align themselves with the Code of Practice set out by Ukactive, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at promoting health and exercise in the UK. According to this code of practice, gyms should comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, as well as ensuring that all members of staff have a recognised qualification.
Common gym injuries
The kind of personal injury you could suffer in a gym will run from a simple strain or pull to something like a torn cartilage which could have you out of action for some time. Whilst accidental injuries are bound to take place occasionally, the gym you use has a duty of care to minimise the chances of such injuries, and to do so by making sure, for example, that all of the equipment used is maintained and kept safe.
People may also sustain injuries from trying to lift too much weight, or carrying out exercises in an incorrect manner, and if this happens while under the supervision of a gym trainer, they could be liable for any trauma caused. Some of the most common exercises performed wrongly are bicep curls, chest presses and squats.
If you’ve been injured at the gym and feel that the owners of the gym, or members of staff, were negligent in allowing the injury to take place then you’ve every right to pursue a claim for compensation.
Steps to take following an accident at the gym
The first thing to do in the event of a gym injury is inform the people in charge of the gym and then seek medical help. The medical help is vital to your recovery and to ascertaining the extent of your injury but it is also important in terms of your claim, in that it will create an official record of when the injury occurred and exactly what form it took. The same is true of any entry into an accident book.
Starting a compensation claim following a gym injury
Making a successful claim in the case of a gym accident will mean demonstrating that the personal injury you suffered would not have happened if the gym in question had taken reasonable steps to keep you safe.
Many less scrupulous gyms ask their users to sign contracts waving their responsibility for any injuries, with the clause being buried somewhere amidst a sea of small print, but, as pointed out by the consumer rights watchdog What Consumer things such as excluding any liability for personal injury may be considered unfair and thus not legally enforceable.
Put simply, if you feel you’ve been let down and treated unfairly then there’s every chance you have, and a quick chat with one of our personal injury lawyers will determine whether you have a strong case to pursue. If you have, then we’ll work on a no win no fee basis to build a strong case, demonstrating that the negligence of the gym caused an injury to take place, and laying out the extent of the disruption to your life, both physical and financial, that this injury has caused.
The compensation you receive will depend upon the extent of your injury, but however much it is it will help to make sure that a simple wish to make yourself fitter doesn’t end up impinging too deeply upon the rest of your life.