california accident

Injured at the Gym? Who May be Liable, and How to Proceed

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Who is Responsible When You Are Injured at The Gym?

Injuries at your local gym are more common than you may believe. You may have experienced muscle soreness later in the day from a good workout. However, there are instances when someone could have gym equipment breakdown on them, injuring themselves more severely. Nobody goes to the gym with that in the back of their mind, and the last thing most gym attendees want to do is have to call a lawyer or recover from an injury. After all, the gym is a place to release stress and improve your health, not build more stress and injure yourself.

Gyms are typically thought to be a fairly safe place. Gyms are staffed with knowledgeable employees to teach people how to properly operate the equipment available. But what would happen when you do experience an injury at the gym? When an accident occurs, who is responsible? Is it the gym owner? The staff? Victims could be left wondering, here’s what you need to know.

Liability Waivers

When you’re new to a gym, normally you are asked to sign some form of liability waiver. Gym owners attempt to protect themselves from lawsuits filed by people who didn’t use equipment properly or tried to do more than they are physically able to do. Signing a liability waiver doesn’t mean that a gym owner is fully exempt from all lawsuit. Take a look at your copy and see what it includes. Better yet, keep a copy saved on your phone and discuss it with an injury attorney. Even if the waiver appears to cover anything and everything, courts are unlikely to enforce such a contract if the gym or manufacturers of equipment at a gym are found to have acted in a negligent manner. Here are a few clauses and verbiage to keep an eye out for:

1. Total waiver of liability means that the gym is not liable for any injuries within it walls. With that being said, courts may find these waivers to be unenforceable if they are too broad.

2. Waiver for negligence means that you can’t sue the gym if your injury was caused by negligence by the part of the gym owner or an employee.

3. Waiver of liability for intentional acts means that you can’t sue if someone in the gym assaults you in some way, these waivers are typically unenforceable in court.

Knowing what your waiver says is the first step in determining whether or not you have successful case on your hands. For example, If during a workout a machine comes crashing down on you due to poor maintenance or an issue the gym owner was aware of, you could potentially file a lawsuit. Nobody wants to file a lawsuit, but if you or a loved one was injured, chances are your lifestyle and general health have suffered greatly as a result. Many people are scared off by the idea of calling a law firm to ask questions, or they assume (incorrectly) that because they signed a waiver, they are stuck with their injury.

Premises Liability

Like any other business, a gym must be reasonable safe and free of hazards. That means that all the equipment must be inspected regularly, slip and fall hazards must be remedied and potential dangers must be repaired or removed. If any of these things have caused your injury, you may choose to file a lawsuit. Again, discussing the facts specific to your incident will likely prove valuable. If nothing else, after discussing your injury with a lawyer, you'll be in a better position to move forward with making an informed and educated decision.

Does Location Matter?

Many people incorrectly assume that because they were hurt in, for example, San Bernardino, that they must find a lawyer in San Bernardino that can help them. This is not accurate. In fact, any lawyer who is licensed to practice in the State of California can help any individual injured in California, no matter whether they be in San Bernardino or San Diego - or San Francisco! This is not limited to unique injuries, such as those that happen at a gym or an exercise facility. Car accidents, slip and fall, animal (dog) bites - no matter where it happens in California, the most important thing is to consult with an attorney that has experience in that type of case or claim. If the attorney or law firm is licensed in California, they can help you, and with modern technology, this can mean a firm in, for example, Newport Beach, can easily help represent clients throughout the state.

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Who to Call?

Like any injury, one that takes place in a gym is unique, If you have been injured in a gym in California, call The Lions Injury Lawyers. We will talk with you about your injury and circumstances surrounding it and help determine if you have a premises liability or other type of personal injury case. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers have handled many cases against gyms and exercise facilities, and despite the existence of waivers, have won large settlements on behalf of their clients. There is no obligation to sign up as a client, and there is no fee charged for talking with an attorney about your injury. Call today to discuss what your options may be, and before making any decision about how to go about fixing the damage done, educate yourself by talking with an attorney.

Civil Claim or Criminal Claim?

For those who don't spend a lot of time in California courts, and for people who are trying to navigate the sometimes complicated and confusing names and phrases used in court, it can be confusing to know where to begin. One question that injured people often have is whether they need to file a lawsuit, and if so, what kind of lawsuit? Because every case is different, and the costs of going it alone in court can be high (not to mention incredibly confusing for many people), it is advisable to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the kind of case you have. One basic distinction is between civil cases and criminal cases.

Criminal Cases

If you were injured by someone who intentionally hurt you, for example, the case falls in the criminal realm. This situation typically means the police were involved, and the person who caused the harm was either arrested or cited for criminal behavior. The State of California, through its district attorney offices, will pursue the case against the person who caused the harm. In a very basic sense, this means the state prosecutes the bad actor. 

Criminal/Civil Cases

In some situations, however, the injured person may file a civil claim against the person who hurt them during the crime. Think about O.J. Simpson, for example. The state tried him for murder, for which he was famously found not guilty. But the family of Nicole Brown pursued a civil suit against O.J. Simpson as well. The legal theories involved are not important to understand in depth. Because O.J. Simpson was a wealthy man, if the family prevailed in their lawsuit, the court could enforce the judgment and make sure O.J. paid (or continues to pay, over a long period of time), the money awarded in a verdict. A civil case may also include "punitive" damages, which are meant as a punishment against the wrong actor, as was awarded in the Simpson case.

The O.J. Simpson case is unique, however, in that the money of the civil verdict was actually paid out to the Brown family. What if O.J. was a poor man at the time of the alleged crime, and remained poor throughout the civil trial? The reality is, even if the jury in the civil trial had awarded millions and millions of dollars, in most situations the Brown family would never have seen a penny of it. Which, in real life, means the case would likely never be brought to trial in the first place. Why? Because most lawyers (there are exceptions, but generally speaking) would not take a civil case to trial when there would be almost zero chance of actually ever seeing payment of the money.

There are many situations that call for both a civil and criminal case. For example, if you or someone you love were injured by a drunk driver, the State of California may pursue the drunk driver in criminal court in order to protect the public. However, the criminal case is about the state taking a dangerous individual off the roads, and possibly putting him or her behind bars. But what about the person or people who were injured by the drunk driver? In order to be compensated, they would need to pursue the drunk driver in a negligence claim, or in civil court. Of course, the issue of who would end up paying arises, and unlike the O.J. Simpson example, the drunk driver, if he had insurance, would be covered for this very situation. Thus, the injured person could open a claim with the drunk driver's insurance company and, if navigated correctly, could resolve this issue without ever having to go to court, and could receive to maximum amount of money the insurance policy covered the drunk driver for.

Civil Cases

In the previous example of the drunk driver who injured someone, there is a common misconception that the injured person must wait for the criminal proceeding to finish. This is not accurate. By contacting an injury law firm in California that handles these hybrid cases, the injured person or persons can move forward with their claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. A good injury attorney will be able to finalize this portion often before the criminal case is even underway. This is, it should be clear, a very general description of how a situation like this example might be handled, and anyone who was injured or who has loved ones who were injured by a drunk driver should not rely on this post for legal advice; they should immediately contact a lawyer or law firm for legal counsel. 

So, Which Case to File?

The reality is, if your situation calls for a criminal proceeding, the police will handle it. If the police aren't aware of what happened, they need to be. Once the police are aware of a criminal act that resulted in injury, a report and investigation will commence, and they will handle it from there. In the civil arena, an experienced and skilled injury law firm may be able to get to the bottom of your case before ever filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and after all that, don't guarantee that the injured person will recover any more money than if the case settles out of court in the pre-litigation phase. For this reason, an injury attorney may be able to give you an evaluation that will at a bare minimum help you understand where your case or claim stands, and what the possible scenarios are in the future. If you're lucky, you won't ever have to file a lawsuit or step foot in a courtroom, and you'll still end up with the same result as if you had.

Injury Lawyers

The Lions Injury Lawyers P.C. are located in Orange County (OC) California, and help injured persons throughout the State of California. They offer free case evaluations by an attorney. That means you'll be speaking with an actual lawyer, not a salesman who is paid to sign up your case and won't hear a thing about it the day after he signs you up. Don't live in Orange County, or your case didn't happen in Southern California or OC? No problem. The Lions represent clients throughout the state of California, and their handling of your claim won't differ a bit from if you lived right down the street in Irvine, Newport Beach, or Costa Mesa. A brief phone call with an experienced injury attorney will give you peace of mind, and help you look at your situation from a new perspective. The Lions Injury Lawyers can compare your case with thousands of cases in the past, which allows them to estimate how many variables will play out for you. The contents of this blog post are for information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal counsel for your case or claim, or for anyone looking for legal advice. The contents of this blog post are intended to educate people, not as legal counsel.