Accidents Involving Treadmills and Other Exercise Machines Injure Thousands Each Year

by John Chapman

Millions of Americans go to the gym or exercise at home with the goal of losing weight, improving their health, and living longer. However, each year, thousands of Americans are injured as a result of gym accidents or mishaps involving exercise equipment.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 460,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for injuries involving exercise equipment at home or at the gym. Common injuries that can be caused by exercise equipment include muscle tears, broken bones, back injuries, or even death.

Safety experts say that Americans who work out at the gym are largely on their own as far as safety is concerned. Most health and safety inspectors for city and state governments do no inspect how gyms or fitness centers place exercise equipment. In some cities, the only safety checks are performed by fire inspectors who ensure that workout equipment does not block fire exits.

In the insurance industry, accidents that occur at the gym are known as “member malfunctions.” These accidents may include individuals who suffer knee injuries during squats, back injuries while lifting weights, or injured fingers while placing dumbbells back on the storage rack. Often, it is assumed that the individual who was hurt while using exercise equipment was at fault for becoming distracted while the machine was in operation.

Treadmill Accidents Injured Thousands Each Year

Treadmills are the most common cause of injuries involving workout accidents. According to the CPSC, about 24,000 people are hospitalized each year with injuries caused by treadmill accidents. Although rare, treadmill accidents can be fatal in some cases. The CPSC reports at least 30 deaths caused by treadmill accidents between 2003 and 2012.

Fitness experts say that unlike other pieces of exercise equipment, a treadmill doesn’t know when the user has run into difficulty. If a user falls while the treadmill is in use, the machine may continue running. This can lead to addition risks of injuries besides those caused by the fall.

A 2015 report by Consumer Reports advised treadmill users on how to avoid injury while using these machines. The report advised treadmill users to always wear the safety clip that stops the machine in the event of a fall to prevent serious skin burns or other injuries. Consumer Reports also advised treadmill users to learn how to properly start and stop the treadmill before beginning their workout, and to follow the proper technique for getting on and off the machine. Treadmill users should also follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and clear a “safety zone” behind the treadmill to lower the risk of injuries in the event of a fall.

In 2011, a California woman filed a $3.8 million lawsuit against 24 Hour Fitness after she suffered severe head injuries in a treadmill accident. According to the lawsuit, Etelvina Jimenez suffered a fractured skull and blood clots after she fell backward on a treadmill at a 24 Hour Fitness location in Sacramento. Jimenez alleges that she fainted while walking on the treadmill. Although the treadmill was surrounded by a “shock-absorbing” floor, as Jimenez fell backwards, her head struck the metal box on a nearby leg exercise machine, causing major brain trauma requiring surgery.

Jimenez’s lawsuit against 24 Hour Fitness focuses on the “safety zone” behind the treadmill on which she was injured. According to the lawsuit, the gym had cleared a space of only 3 feet 10 inches between the rear of the treadmill and the nearby leg exercise machine. ASTM International, an international agency that publishes safety standards for exercise equipment, recommends a clearance of 6.5 feet to prevent injuries like the one suffered by Jimenez.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you or a loved one were seriously injured while using exercise equipment, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the workout machine, or the gym or fitness center where the injury occurred. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who has the experience with cases involving personal injuries to advise you of your legal rights and guide you through the steps of filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have successfully resolved hundreds of lawsuits involving personal injury, product liability, or other legal matters. Our law firm has the financial resources to handle personal injury claims from start to finish. In many instances, Heygood, Orr & Pearson has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case on our clients’ behalf in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

For a free legal consultation from an attorney to learn more about whether you qualify to file a personal injury claim, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following this link to our free online case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.

by John Chapman

John Chapman is a licensed attorney with experience in complex commercial litigation (including securities fraud, RICO, shareholder oppression, and derivative actions) and personal injury litigation.