I read with interest in the media recently about a woman from Workington who suffered a horrific back injury whilst participating in an outdoor fitness class. Charlotte O'Donnell suffered a fracture to her back and spent a month in West Cumberland Hospital following the accident on the 24th November. The activity which she was due to take part in involving flipping over heavy tyres on the ground. However, Charlotte insists that she hadn't even touched the equipment and the injury occurred as she initially bent down. She places no blame on the gym, and is still undergoing tests to establish the cause of the injury. To date, she is still using a body brace, and is paralysed in one leg.
Although this lady believes that the gym was not at fault, it does highlight the fact that using gym equipment, or participating in exercise which is unsuitable for one's level of fitness can be dangerous. I have recently successfully secured compensation for a lady who was exercising on a fitness mat in a gym, and was struck on the head by a dumbbell which had carelessly been left lying around. Her injuries included a large gash to the head, leaving permanent and prominent scarring, extensive dental injuries, and psychological damage.
Come the New Year, many people make resolutions to start a diet and improve their fitness levels by joining a gym or exercise class. This story highlights the need to ensure that the gym you do join has their client's best interests at heart. A good gym will ask for your medical history when you join and ask you to undergo a fitness assessment. They should also provide you with a full induction and you should be shown how to use all equipment safely and without risk. A decent gym should also have the necessary insurance cover in place to deal with your claim should you unfortunately be injured whilst on their premises.
By Pauline Smith