How a Liability Waiver Can Save Your Gym￼
Any owner or operator of a gym knows just how vital client safety is to their business. Gyms that are lax with security or safety can easily contribute to accidents or injuries and put their business and personal liability at risk.
The best way to protect clients and staff is to ensure your gym remains a safe workout location. Protecting ongoing safety depends on your gym’s setup, but one thing is universal – supplying your clients with effective and easy-to-read gym liability waivers. These waivers are critically important. They offer clients a complete understanding of their responsibility and allow the gym business to be fully waived of liability should any accident occur.
One Ontario case that was decided in 2019 is an excellent example of why these gym waivers are so necessary.
Learn about the recent case of Hosseinkhani v. QK Fitness Inc.
In 2014, Fatemeh Hosseinkhani signed up for a membership at QK Fitness, a local gym. She was given a paper agreement to sign, with an Exclusion of Liability clause on the reverse side. She signed the agreement without incident.
A few months later, the plaintiff participated in an organized fitness class at the gym, which required her to use two dumbbells and an exercise step. During the class, she was instructed to put the dumbbells down, and a few moments later, she stepped off her exercise step onto the dumbbells. This action caused her to fall, resulting in a burst fracture in one of her vertebrae.
Soon after, Hosseinkhani sued QK Fitness Inc. for damages, claiming negligence. In her argument, her lawyers claimed she hadn’t been instructed on how to use the dumbbells safely, which contributed to her accident. They also claimed she hadn’t been given an opportunity to read and understand the liability waiver before she was asked to sign it.
The case was decided in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2019. In his judgment, Justice Charney found that the activities the plaintiff was participating in and the equipment used were not inherently dangerous.
However, the court did find that QK Fitness Inc. did not meet its requirement to take reasonable steps to warn the plaintiff about the Exclusion of Liability clause, which was a breach of Section 3(3) of the Occupiers Liability Act.
Why your gym needs a liability waiver
While, ultimately, the case of Hosseinkhani v. QK Fitness Inc was dismissed because the plaintiff couldn’t prove the defendant was negligent, the fact that the court found the gym did not take reasonable steps to warn the plaintiff about the impact of the liability waiver is concerning.
Since they didn’t bring the liability clause to the plaintiff’s attention, they would have been in perilous legal waters if the justice found negligence also at play.
In the future, gyms should learn from this case and take extra steps to ensure they’re using liability waivers that are easy to understand. These simple, plain-language gym waivers can help protect businesses from plaintiffs who allege they weren’t warned about the impact that an Exclusion of Liability clause may have.
How to explain gym waivers and risks to clients
There are a few ways gyms can bring their liability waivers, and the important Exclusion of Liability clause, to their clients’ attention.
Some gyms choose to capitalize or bold statements before this clause, warning of its importance. Some phrasing could include:
- THE CONDITIONS WILL AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO SUE OR CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT
- PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
Additionally, other gyms have clients initial after each clause to ensure they have read it thoroughly.
How WaiverForever can help
Instead of relying on traditional paper liability forms and worrying about clients not reading them fully, choose a more modern and thoughtful alternative.
WaiverForever’s fully customizable online waiver forms allow gyms to send personalized documents to their clients before they arrive for their first day at the gym. This will enable them to peruse it at their leisure and removes the time pressure to sign immediately.
The secure WaiverForever system also allows for photo capture before, during, and after an event to help secure photographic proof of identity that is then securely stored on our encrypted server. Both the photos and the waivers are always available both on or offline.
Don’t wait until you have an incident to review your gym waiver policy. Switch to WaiverForever today to keep your business safe.