Can You Sue a Gym for Personal Injury?


Kimberly Dawn Neumann

There are lots of positives that come with regularly working out. Better health, a fitter body, while meeting new people being among some of the top takeaways. But one thing you don’t want is to find yourself injured at the gym.

Unfortunately, about 445,000 gym members suffered injuries from exercise equipment in 2022. That statistic is one of the reasons most gyms have members sign liability waivers when they join. But even with a waiver, are there cases where it’s possible for you to sue a gym for personal injury?

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What Typically Causes Gym Injuries?

Gyms are not liable for every injury sustained in their facilities. Overexerting, lifting weights that are too heavy, or improperly using equipment are all incidents where the user bears responsibility. In those cases, it will be difficult to pin any culpability on the gym itself.

However, there are cases where the fault may lie with the facility. For example, if you slip and fall in an area that wasn’t cleaned properly by the staff. Or if a piece of gym equipment malfunctions and hurts you through no action of your own.

Injuries from the direct result of improperly trained employees are another area where the gym might be to blame. Even though you typically sign a liability waiver in an exercise facility, you still have the right to a well-maintained gym.

Common Types of Gym Injuries

Strains, sprains, muscle pulls, and other soft tissue injuries inevitably happen in most gym settings. So are bruises, broken bones, crushed fingers and toes, lacerations, and more. The reality is people mess up their bodies all the time while working out.

Weightlifting has a high prevalence for injury in comparison to cardio exercises, with approximately 62% involving strains and sprains. Almost 52% are the result of overexertion. And men are more likely than women to experience getting injured at the gym.

However, just because someone gets hurt at the gym doesn’t mean the facility is liable. The caveat, once again, is if the injuries result from some unsafe condition or action.

For more severe injuries or even wrongful death—like someone having a heart attack while working out—the circumstances matter. To determine liability, you’ll have to prove there was some degree of negligence or fault from the facility. And even then, a lawyer must review your contract to see if it completely releases the gym from responsibility.

Who to Sue When Injured at the Gym

Every personal injury is different, as is every gym. As such, the answer to whom you should sue if you’re injured at the gym also varies. As a general rule, you should file your claim against the person or place that caused your personal injury.

Your safety at the gym is the responsibility of gym management or owners of the fitness facility. This includes making sure the equipment is secure and in good working order. But it also includes things like cleaning up spills, confirming the stairs are clear, and securing dangerous objects.

If the ownership does not uphold its part of that contract, then the gym may be liable for your injury.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also file a claim against the manufacturing company behind the gym equipment. If your injury is the result of a faulty gym device or defective machine, then the manufacturer may be responsible.

In some cases, it may make sense to file a claim against both the gym and the equipment manufacturer. A lawyer can help advise you as to the best course of action following a gym injury.

What Types of Lawsuits Can You Sue a Gym For?

In most situations, a claim coming from someone injured at the gym will fall into personal injury.

This is a civil lawsuit where one party is suing the other for causing the victim harm. There are various types of personal injury, but the root cause will likely be from negligence or intentional harm.

Claims of Negligence

If you’re suing a gym or gym owner, it’s probable that you’ll file a claim of negligence against the facility.

A lawyer would then argue that the facility did not uphold its duty of care to protect you from harm. If you can show this failure ultimately caused your injuries, you may be due for compensation.

Can You Sue a Gym for Faulty Equipment?

If a gym isn’t maintaining its equipment in safe and workable order, then you may sue them for your injury.

However, that is assuming that they haven’t posted a warning that the equipment is in need of repair. A gym-goer who uses a machine after receiving notification that it’s not safe is choosing to work out at their own risk. In that case, the exerciser cannot sue the gym for faulty equipment as it was their decision to ignore the warnings.

However, if a well-maintained machine breaks down and causes injury, then it’s possible to sue the maker. But the victim will need to show evidence of the machine’s malfunction.

Evidence to suggest negligence may include:

  • Photos of the accident
  • Medical bills to show extent of your injuries
  • Eyewitness testimonies

Premises Liability

This area of personal injury law centers around claims arising from injuries on someone else’s property.

If you’re suing a gym based on premises liability, it may be because of some failure to maintain the facility. Slips and falls are by far the most prominent examples of premises liability.

In these cases, the three criteria that must be part of the claim for it to be valid include:

  1. There was a dangerous element or situation on the property.
  2. The owner or manager was negligent in addressing the danger.
  3. The injuries the victim sustains are a direct result of this negligence.

When Can a Gym Claim Assumption of Risk?

Most gyms and fitness centers require that members sign a liability waiver in order to use the facility. It is generally a contingency of membership.

By signing it you accept the assumption of risk that goes along with working out in their gym. Typically, when injured at the gym, gym managers deny fault, claiming that they’re protected by these waivers.

Gym Waivers

Though the general provisions of a gym waiver are similar, there are some variations that these businesses may use including:

  • Waiver for negligence. This states the gym cannot be held responsible for injuries resulting from the negligence of the gym or its employees.
  • Waiver for intentional acts. This disclaimer tries to absolve a gym’s liability for injuries resulting from intentional acts by the gym owner or employees.
  • Waiver for total liability. This blanket waiver says that the gym cannot be held liable for any injury that happens on the property.

Even if a member signs one of these waivers, they do not provide an all-encompassing protection against lawsuits. Waivers alone cannot protect gym owners from instances of gross negligence or severe injuries. You may need a personal injury lawyer to combat these claims to get the highest settlement for your losses.

How to Overcome a Gym Waiver

Waivers are a way gyms try to insulate themselves from injury claims. While most gym members assume signing means they surrender any legal rights, there are cases where waivers can be overcome.

A personal injury lawyer may be able to argue that a waiver is invalid if there is evidence of:

  • Public policy violations. A court may find that enforcing a waiver is not in the best interest of the general public’s health and safety.
  • Gross negligence. If a gym or employee knowingly and deliberately puts its members in danger, a waiver may not hold. That’s because the gym is showing a reckless disregard for the safety and health of its clients.
  • Vague and ambiguous language. If the waiver’s wording is hard to follow, a lawyer can argue that it’s too confusing for an average person to understand. If the judge agrees, the waiver becomes null and void.

Find a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney When Injured at the Gym

One of the biggest issues for people injured at the gym is challenging any signed waivers. However, overly broad or insufficient waiver clauses may be overcome by a skilled personal injury attorney.

If your injury is the direct result of a gym accident, you may be due for compensation. 

We’d be happy to connect you with one of the lawyers in our network. Let them evaluate your case free-of-charge, so you can get back to using free weights at the gym soon.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit:, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann