Case Study: Liability Waivers, Personal Trainers Create Major Questions in Gym Injury Claims

Case Study: Liability Waivers, Personal Trainers Create Major Questions in Gym Injury Claims

Victims who suffer injuries at gyms and fitness clubs face many challenges when it comes to evaluating the merits of their claims and their right to recover damages. Among these are issues associated with liability waivers signed by members and guests, as well as arrangements where gyms hire personal trainers as 独立承包人 rather than employees.

But just because liability waivers have been signed or injuries occurred under the watch of an independent contractor does not mean victims are without options.

正如Biren法律团体处理的一个案例所示, experienced counsel can help plaintiffs investigate issues salient to their claim and explore available strategies to establish fault and liability.

案件事实

Biren法律团体 represented a Plaintiff who suffered a severe wrist injury when her personal trainer negligently conducted an accelerated sprint exercise. 具体地说, the Plaintiff was instructed to run full speed down a track while the trainer held bands attached a harness on her body. 安全带不是为这种运动设计的.

同时进行短跑阻力练习, 私人教练发行了乐队, 它们还系在原告的挽具上. 这就导致这些带立刻失去了阻力, 在原告全速冲刺时尾随其后, 并最终翻转并缠绕原告的双脚.

As a result, the Plaintiff fell and suffered a significant, life-altering wrist injury.

案例问题:会员协议、疏忽、培训师就业状况 & 欺诈

The case introduced three critical questions that needed to be resolved before Defendants could accept responsibility:

  1. Did the liability waiver in the trial membership agreement signed by the Plaintiff prior to working out with the Defendant trainer preclude her from pursuing a negligence claim against the Defendants?
  2. 是私人教练的疏忽吗?
  3. Was the personal trainer an employee of the gym and thus covered under the gym’s liability policy.

1. 健身房试用会员协议中的免责条款

健身房和健身中心通常需要签署免责声明, 通常是作为会员协议的一部分, 在会员和客人使用他们的设施之前. These agreements generally limit members to filing claims only when they can prove gross negligence (which is a difficult standard to meet) or that the prevailing contract was invalid or did not apply.

如果没有重大过失, Biren法律团体’s first objective was to establish that the liability waiver contained in the trial membership agreement signed by the Plaintiff was not in effect at the time of the incident.

对于这个, BLG仔细审查了合同, 试用会员条款, 以及相关的判例法, 这表明责任只适用于7天的试用期内. 这使得原告可以:

  • 驳倒被告关于责任豁免排除了索赔的论点;
  • 确定原告不受责任豁免的约束.

进一步, this legal maneuvering placed the Plaintiff in a position from which she only needed to prove negligence, 而不是重大过失, 对被告.

2. 疏忽

解决疏忽的问题, BLG retained one of the state’s top gym experts who was familiar with the type of workout the trainer had tried to perform and the correct type of equipment that should have been used.

通过专家, the Plaintiff was able to prove that the Defendant’s failure to use the correct equipment:

  • Created the dangerous condition wherein the bands remained attached to the Plaintiff and dragged by her feet as she sprinted full speed.
  • 受伤的风险成倍增加.

具体地说, the expert opined that the Plaintiff should have been wearing a harness with straps that detach when the sprinter is released by the trainer, 从而消除了短跑跳远的风险.

3. 健身房的责任

最后, BLG had to contend with arguments from the Defendant gym that because the personal trainer was an independent contractor and not an employee, 健身房不能被追究责任. 一般, employers are vicariously liable for damages caused by employees in the course of their work, 但不包括独立承包商造成的损害.

这是一个重大的障碍, as the Defendant trainer’s lack of insurance made the gym’s policy the only meaningful source of coverage to compensate the Plaintiff.

通过细致的调查, BLG was able to identify a number of ways the Defendant trainer held himself to be an employee of the gym. 调查中收集的证据发现:

  • 被告的训练师在该健身房的网站上被列为“教练”.
  • 网上有很多照片显示被告的教练穿着印有健身房标志的衣服.
  • 被告的训练师告诉他的客户他为那家健身房工作.

This evidence provided the leverage by which BLG was able to compel the Defendant trainer to obtain representation and formally request that the gym’s insurance policy cover his defense, and ultimately to the insurance carrier’s acceptance of coverage for the defendant trainer.

被告和辩护律师揭露欺诈行为

贯穿于BLG一丝不苟的调查过程中, 人们发现,健身房的老板, 以及他的辩护律师, 从事多种欺诈行为的. BLG了解到健身房老板, 他以前训练过奥运会级别的运动员, was essentially a con artist who had been found guilty of serious doping offenses in the past.

另外, this same gym owner was unaware about the specific substantive critical liability discovery responses he supposedly verified under oath—responses that had been served by his defense counsel. BLG根据线索找到了辩护律师本人. 在进一步调查, it became evident the defense attorney had forged her client’s signature—a major ethical breach for which an attorney may lose their license.

As a result of significant pressure applied by BLG into investigation of the fraud issue, 同时也为了避免被曝光后的尴尬, the defense counsel requested that a mediation be set before the second deposition of the defendant ordered by the court. 在这次调解中,此案以最高金额和解.

在这个案子结束后, 犯有欺诈和伪造罪的辩护律师被她的公司开除了.

这个案例的主要教训

Plaintiffs’ attorneys must clear various hurdles in their efforts to help clients successfully resolve claims, and they can be justified in assessing potential actions by how significant those hurdles seem. 仍然, 律师应该小心查看涉及责任豁免的障碍, 独立承包人, 或经初步审查不能克服的其他排除情形.

正如这件事所证明的, identifying the critical issues of a claim and taking a systematic approach to their investigation can allow plaintiffs’ attorneys to uncover viable strategies in claims that may be dismissed upon cursory examination. 当争论开始形成的时候, ample evidence and expert witnesses can provide further credibility and leverage to reach a positive outcome.

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