One of the biggest trends over the past decade has been the growth of intense sports and fitness programs for adults, with many working professionals heading out to engage in Crossfit, triathlons, kickboxing, rock climbing gyms, intramural sports, and all other types of physical activities that can carry with them a high risk of physical injury. And when injury does happen either through another’s negligence or intentional actions, the question arises of whether the victim can bring a personal injury lawsuit for his or her injuries.
Winning a Personal Injury Suit Generally
In most types of personal injury suits, the plaintiff will need to show that the defendant – whether that be another participant or gym or sporting organization – was negligent, meaning that they acted unreasonably in a way that would foreseeably cause injury to the plaintiff, and that this negligence did in fact cause injury to the plaintiff. For example, if a gym knew it had a faulty treadmill, but failed to fix it and a gym member was severely injured when she tripped and fell on the running treadmill, this would likely qualify as negligence. A reckless or intentional act on the part of the defendant would also be sufficient for a negligence case. Note that when an employee acts negligently, that negligence will be imputed to the employer (e.g. a gym) for the purposes of bringing a case.
Contributory Negligence, Consent, and Assumption of the Risk
A defendant may raise a number of defenses in a sports/fitness related suit. The defendant might argue that you as the plaintiff was also negligent, but so long as the defendant was negligent, this only means that the plaintiff’s award might be reduced (and not that the plaintiff would be blocked from bringing a case). A defendant might also argue that a plaintiff consented to the injurious action, e.g. by agreeing to participate in a boxing match in which both participants would be hitting each other. Similarly, a defendant can argue that a plaintiff voluntarily assumed a risk by appreciating the nature of the risk of injury and nonetheless proceeding. While consent and assumption of risk may be valid arguments, you should work with your attorney to determine whether facts in your case negate those defenses.
What about Waivers?
Many gyms, recreational, and sporting organizations will require participants to sign a waiver of liability prior to participating in an activity. In some cases, this will limit the plaintiff’s ability to bring a suit, but this is not always the case, and you should always speak with an attorney to determine whether you have a viable personal injury suit in spite of a waiver. Waivers must be very explicit in what they entail in order to be effective, and courts will construe the waiver in favor of the plaintiff when possible. Furthermore, where the injurious conduct was reckless or intentional, a waiver will be ineffective.
Legal Help in Your NYC Personal Injury Matter
Personal injury attorney Justin Brandel represents injured victims and their families in all types of accidents across NYC, and will fight to win the settlement or verdict you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation to discuss how we can help you win recovery for your injuries.