I own a gym, and one of my customers got injured because of a piece of defective equipment. I need legal help.
As a health and fitness entrepreneur, you give people the means to improve their lives. Your gym contains the latest and most state-of-the-art equipment on the market. You utilize various manufacturers and work with them to ensure that you get exercise equipment that the people who work out at your gym want. You set very high standards for quality, performance, and safety. The last of these is especially important. Every piece of equipment that enters your gym must be deemed safe by an official authority.
Despite all these precautions, it is still possible for one of your patrons to hurt themselves because of defective equipment. Such an occurrence puts you in legal jeopardy, and you must respond with immediacy and vigor.
An injured client is a serious matter. If the person hurt claims that something went wrong with the equipment they were using, you must close off all access to the device. Even before such an incident occurs, you should have standing orders for the attendant on duty to call you if there has been an accident of any kind. When you receive the call, you should instruct the attendant to call emergency services, take photographs of the accident scene, take down details of how the accident occurred from the injured party and, most importantly, admit no fault.
When you arrive at the gym, you will have an opportunity to see the scene for yourself. If you arrive before the injured party has gone to the hospital for treatment, you may want to speak to them yourself to fill in any gaps in their original statement. You then want to call a product liability attorney.
The Right Course of Action
There is a world of difference between premises liability and product liability. If one of your clients slips on a wet floor, suffers a head injury because of a collapsed ceiling, or is electrocuted because of faulty wiring in your building, then you are liable for it. If the same person is injured by defective equipment that was sold to you by a manufacturer, your liability is questionable at best.
You need to prepare to defend yourself against the possibility of a lawsuit by the injured party and to file your own lawsuit against the company that sold you the defective equipment.
Why You Will Be Sued
If the client has suffered severe injury, they may have to spend weeks or months in the hospital. They will be faced with medical bills and other financial difficulties owing to their inability to work. In the most extreme cases, the person may lose their livelihood and may even be forced to spend years undergoing rehabilitative treatment.
Their lawyers will no doubt advise them to sue you and the manufacturer of the defective equipment. From their perspective, it is the legally smart and right thing to do. They have gone through a traumatic event that has cost them dearly and they believe everyone who had a hand in it should be made to pay.
Why You Should Fight
You carry business insurance to help offset the costs of settling personal injury claims. However, you should seek the help of your insurer only if it can be established that such an accident is your fault. In the case of defective equipment, this cannot be said. You should not risk increasing the cost of your business insurance by using it to settle an accident case that you were not responsible for. Indeed, your insurer may refuse to pay the money if their investigation concludes that the fault lies elsewhere.
What Your Attorney Will Do
Regardless of the status of the injured client’s claim against you, it is your right to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective equipment. Even if you are not held liable for the accident, there will be damage to the brand and reputation of your gym. There is also breach of contract and the possibility that the vendor may have misled you as to the safety and reliability of the equipment. You have the right to claim damages for such infractions.
A product liability lawyer specializes in this area of tort law. They can help you gather the facts and bring the relevant parts of law to bear in pursuit of your claim. Here are some of the specific actions your lawyer will take:
- Gather the Facts
Your lawyer will engage the services of professional investigators to re-examine the scene of the accident and re-interview eyewitnesses. This must be done to establish with certainty the nature and timelines of events. The same investigative team will also make inquiries into the equipment manufacturer. There may be a design or engineering flaw that the company has yet to acknowledge. If this is the case, then other people will have been injured while using the device in question. Your lawyer will track down other injury victims and get them to make statements.
Your lawyer will also find out if the manufacturer knew of the design problem and tried to hide it from their customers or play it down. Such malfeasance can often be found in internal memos and emails, all of which can be subpoenaed by your lawyer.
- Introduce Expert Witnesses
The most important part of a liability case is demonstrating the flaw that caused the product to be defective and thus unsafe. Your lawyer will bring in design engineers and other technical experts to thoroughly examine the piece of gear that caused the injury. Your lawyer will have the power to subpoena most of the documents related to the design and production of the equipment. This material will be sorted through and the cause of the defect found.
Your lawyer will engage only those design experts who have experience in testifying before juries, as they will be able to explain highly technical and complex concepts in simple terms. Safety experts can also be brought in to explain the hazard that such a design flaw presents to anyone who uses the equipment.
- The Law
In the end, your lawyer will need to prove that the equipment you were sold was defective, that the use of it caused injury to one of your clients, and that the manufacturer owes you damages that amount to a certain dollar figure. Your lawyer may be able to present the respondent with enough evidence to get them to settle. The manufacturer may want to avoid a prolonged and costly trial that may forever sully their brand and reputation. They may be willing to offer you a settlement that is fair, adequate, and commensurate with the damage they have caused.