Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Represent You in Your Treadmill Accident Claim
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
Of the more than 50 million Americans who use treadmills, hundreds of thousands of people each year are injured, some of them seriously. In a few cases, these injuries are fatal.
If you were injured on a treadmill due to the negligence of someone else or a defect in the treadmill itself, you may be entitled to compensation. Treadmill accident claims can be deceptively complex, however, and may require substantial legal expertise to resolve.
High-Profile Treadmill Accidents
Treadmill accidents have sparked a torrent of lawsuits in recent years. Some of the most high-profile cases include:
- Mike Tyson’s 4-year old daughter Exodus was killed by a treadmill when its electrical cord wrapped around her neck (2009).
- Dave Goldberg, spouse of a prominent Facebook executive, died in a Mexican hotel gym of a head injury apparently caused by a treadmill (2015).
Fitness Club Memberships
If you are injured on a treadmill in a fitness club, your membership contract may contain a clause that purports to limit the liability of the club in the event of an injury. There are limits, however, on how much a club can limit its liability, no matter what the contract says. In most jurisdictions a business may disclaim responsibility for “ordinary negligence”, but not “gross negligence”. “Gross negligence means something like “extreme negligence”.
The dividing line between ordinary negligence and gross negligence is blurry, however – in fact, this distinction is often a case-deciding issue where lawyers from both sides are likely to fight it out in court. A layman or an inexperienced lawyer is not the best candidate to win such an argument, either in court or at the settlement table.
If your treadmill accident was caused by a defective treadmill, you will need to file a product liability claim. In product liability law you need to prove that:
- The defendant was somewhere in the chain of distribution of the treadmill. Normally this means a manufacturer, a wholesaler or a distributor. You can sue any or all of these parties without establishing that they were at fault.
- The treadmill was defective and unreasonably dangerous. Three types of defects are actionable under product liability law – design defects, manufacturing defects and warning defects. Considerable investigative resources may be required to establish a product liability claim. The word “unreasonable” is another subjective element where lawyers are likely to fight it out in court, because a certain amount of danger is considered normal and doesn’t give rise to liability.
- The treadmill defect actually caused your injury.
- You were using the treadmill as it was intended to be used. If a small child was injured while playing on the treadmill, for example, the defendant might be able to successfully deny liability.
If you pursue a treadmill accident claim, it is likely that the defendant will seek to blame the accident partially or fully on you. Using a cell phone while running, failing to follow the instructions of a gym attendant and setting the running speed too high can all be used by defendants as “evidence” that you were at fault for the accident. If the injured party and the defendant share blame for the accident, depending on state law, your money damages could be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault, or your claim could be denied entirely. Without effective legal representation, you could be blamed for the accident even if it wasn’t your fault.
If you have been injured in a treadmill accident, use our lawyer search function to locate a personal injury attorney in your jurisdiction.