A Sacramento, California-woman who filed a personal injury lawsuit after she was severely injured in a 2011 treadmill accident at 24 Hour Fitness could end up setting a very important precedent in personal injury if her claim is successful.
The 66-year old plaintiff claims she suffered serious, life-altering brain damage when she flew off the back of a treadmill and hit her head on another machine after becoming dizzy. Her multi-million lawsuit claims she cannot perform basic, everyday functions like cooking, driving, and suffers from recurring headaches.
While thousands of people are hurt every year at gyms, hardly any are successful in lawsuits charging the facility was somehow negligent and ultimately responsible for their condition. However, this case appears to be different for many reasons.
First, according to the plaintiff, the gym was negligent for not clearing enough space behind the treadmill in case of a slip and fall. The treadmill’s own manufacturer requires at least a 6 ft clearance behind the machine while other industry experts recommend 6.5 feet to prevent serious injuries.
The clearance behind the treadmill where the plaintiff was hurt was only 3 feet, 10 inches.
Second, the standard waiver of liability form the plaintiff signed was in English, a language she cannot read or write in. Waivers of liability (also known as pre-injury clauses) are meant to inform participants of the risk of an activity and insulate one party from liability for injuries.
However, most states, including California, hold waivers of liability are not enforceable if the party signing the document cannot understand the language of the agreement.
Personal injury lawsuits hinge on proving foreseeability of an injury. A good example of foreseeability is shoveling snow off a sidewalk because it is very likely someone may slip, fall, and hurt themselves.
In this case, the defendant should have known someone could be hurt if he or she went off the back of the treadmill since the manufacturer set clearance requirements behind the machine. Furthermore, since the plaintiff could read the waiver of liability she signed, she could not possibly have known about the risks she was taking by using equipment at the gym.
When parties fail to take reasonable steps to prevent likely injuries, they are negligent in their duty to protect others and can be held liable by courts for the damages suffered by victims and their families. Personal injury victims can file lawsuits to recover their lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
While The Cochran Firm, D.C. is not representing any of the parties in this case, our office does have experience helping victims hurt at gyms and other recreational facilities. If you or a loved one here hurt in an accident, contact our office for a free consultation about your case.
Fill out an online contact form with the details of your case or call our office during business hours at 202-682-5800 or at 1-800-THE FIRM (843-3476) to reach us 24 hours a day. Strict time deadlines apply to filing claims so please contact us at your earliest convenience to preserve your legal rights.