Under New York law, liability waivers in gym membership agreements are unenforceable in most cases.

With the holidays around the corner, New York gyms will soon be full of people attempting to stay true to their New Years' resolutions. Although gyms are a great place to work off those holiday pounds, injuries in gyms happen quite regularly. Since such injuries often go well beyond pulled muscles (e.g. slipping and falling because of an overflowing toilet), you may wonder if you can sue the gym and recover damages if you are injured because of their negligence.

You may be aware that when you join a gym, you often have to sign a membership agreement. Most gyms attempt to protect themselves from liability by including a liability waiver in the agreement. As a result, you may think that this effectively prevents you from being able to recover damages.

Fortunately, in New York, this is not the case in many instances. Although liability waivers can be enforced in some cases, New York General Obligations Law Section 5-326 declares written waivers of liability in connection with the use of certain types of premises as unenforceable. Specifically, express waivers of liability may not be enforced in contracts (and other written agreements) concerning the use of pools, gymnasiums, places of amusement or recreation, and other similar establishments.

As for gym memberships, in order for the statute to apply, the following must occur:

  • The gym membership agreement must be entered into between you and the owner or operator of the gym; and
  • The liability waiver in question must attempt to exempt the owner and operator from liability for their own negligence (or that of their agents or employees); and
  • The owner and operator of the gym must receive a fee in connection with your use of the facilities (i.e. membership or use fees)

Assuming that all of the above conditions are met, any attempt on the gym's part to use the membership agreement to shield themselves from negligence liability is void and unenforceable. As a result, if you are injured because of negligence on the gym's part, you may sue and recover compensation for expenses that you incurred because of the injury, such as medical bills, loss of income and other related losses.

Speak to an attorney

If you are injured at the gym because of a dangerous condition on the property, defective gym equipment, unskilled personal trainer or other negligence, proving liability can be difficult in many cases. As a result, it is necessary for you to have assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the circumstances of your accident, determine whether negligence was to blame and recover the compensation that is due to you under New York law.