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Premises Liability

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Get Hurt in the Gym? Sure you can Sue!

Weight Lifting Injuries at the Gym: Who Is Liable?

 

Working out at a gym is usually good for your health, but not always. Perhaps you lifted more weight than you could handle. Or a piece of strength training equipment malfunctioned. Or the gym staff failed to instruct or spot you properly. Can you hold the gym owners or others liable for damages?

 

There have been many cases in which plaintiffs have successfully sued gyms, sports clubs, Pilates studios and other exercise facilities for their injuries. Even if the gym owners were not aware of an unsafe condition, they may be liable if proper inspection would have uncovered it. Sometimes you may also be able to bring a product liability lawsuit against companies and individuals responsible for the design, manufacture, sale or distribution of a potentially dangerous exercise machine or its components.

 

Equipment malfunctions are not the only basis for gym liability. You may be able to sue a gym for poor instruction or supervision. If an unqualified staff member imposed excessive demands, provided improper instruction or did not warn of potential risks, the gym itself could be liable for muscle injuries or other harm.

 

One hurdle to overcome is the liability waiver that most gym members must sign when they join, promising not to sue if they are injured at the gym.  Fortunately, in New York, these waivers are unenforceable in many instances. New York General Obligations Law Section 5-326 makes waivers of liability for gym related injuries void if three conditions are met:

1) The gym membership agreement is entered into between you and the owner or operator of the gym; and

2) The liability waiver in question attempts to exempt the owner and operator from liability for their own negligence (or that of their agents or employees); and
3) The owner and operator of the gym receives a fee in connection with your use of the facilities (i.e. membership or use fees).

If these three conditions are met, your gym, be it New York Sports, Equinox, Crunch, or any other gym of which you are a paying member, cannot avoid liability if you are injured as a result of their negligence.  These waivers are included in the membership agreements the gym has you sign, even though the gym knows full well the waiver is likely not enforceable, in hopes that you will refrain from suing believing that the waiver is valid.

 

 If you are injured, you should immediately report the incident to the gym and ask for a copy of any report prepared by the gym staff. You can show that document, along with any photographs you may have of any equipment involved, to a lawyer. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide if you have a case to pursue.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Baseball Rule and Sporting Event Injuries

Each year, over 70 million tickets to Major League Baseball games are sold in cities across the country. Fans flock to these games for the live action – the opportunity to see their favorite players in the flesh, enjoy a few hot dogs and belt out the fan favorite “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with thousands of other die-hards during the seventh inning stretch. Unfortunately, each year some of this “live action” causes injuries to spectators when a foul ball or flying bat (and occasionally, a player trying to get that heroic out) finds its way into the crowded stands. If you’ve witnessed one of these incidents or have been a victim of one, you’ve likely wondered what happens next? Will the team pay for medical care? Does the injured party have a right to sue?

Under “the baseball rule” owners must demonstrate a high degree of care for visitors to their stadiums, taking measures to protect spectators in high-risk areas (such as behind home plate) and areas where spectators can expect to be protected. Under the rule, spectators in the unprotected areas of the stadium should assume the inherent risks of the game that include balls travelling at very high speeds and pieces of equipment that might be propelled into the seating areas.

On the back of nearly every ticket for a professional sporting event, you will find a warning of these inherent risks, and a statement that explains that the team and stadium is not responsible for any injuries resulting from the game. This ticket is seen as a form of an adhesion contract which is a standardized agreement that a party is bound to once they purchase the ticket (even if the ticketholder was unaware of the terms and failed to read them prior to attendance).

In deciding civil suits pertaining to injuries at baseball games and other professional sporting events, the courts have often looked to the baseball rule in making their judgments. It is, however, important to note that not all states adhere to the rule that limits the liability of owners assuming the standard of care to visitors is met.

In one recent case Rountree v. Boise Baseball, LLC, et al., the Idaho Supreme Court balked at the century old baseball rule and ruled that a gentleman who had lost his eye when he was hit with a foul ball at a game of a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs could seek damages from the baseball organization.  

If you’ve been injured at a major sporting event, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. It’s important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand the laws in your state, all applicable court rulings and work with you to determine the best strategy for recovery. 


Monday, February 16, 2015

Be Wary of Carbon Monoxide Levels During Winter

If you live in cooler climates, winter is a time to take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning.  Residents of the northern parts of the country who seal up their homes to keep them warm over the winter may increase the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.  


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.  Rates of injury and death are highest in the winter and among residents of the Midwest and Northeast United States.  To minimize risk, it is important to understand the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it in your home and other sealed locations like your car and garage. .

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that you cannot see, smell, hear, taste or feel.  Without detection equipment, your first clue that carbon monoxide is present may be symptoms of poisoning in yourself or a loved one.  Many household appliances produce carbon monoxide, including oil- and gas-burning furnaces, portable generators and charcoal grills.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
A person with carbon monoxide poisoning may exhibit flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Pets as well as humans can exhibit these symptoms.  If anyone in your home shows these signs, it is important to immediately:

  • Provide fresh air, either by leaving the premises or opening all doors and windows
  • Put distance between the victim and the likely source of the carbon monoxide
  • Call 911 and state that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Get medical attention for the victim
  • Have your home inspected before returning (your local fire department or police department should be able to help with this)

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide can easily be fatal if untreated, especially among children and the elderly,.  Increase your family’s peace of mind by taking the following steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install CO detectors outside every bedroom and in the basement or where your oil or gas-powered appliances are.
  • Get regular service for appliances that use oil or gas.
  • Do not use appliances to heat your home that are not built for that purpose, such as portable camping stoves, lanterns, charcoal grills or your oven.
  • Never sleep in a room heated by a gas or kerosene space heater.

Taking these simple steps can keep your family safe from CO poisoning throughout the winter months.
 


Monday, September 22, 2014

On-the-Job Injuries, Worker’s Compensation and Third-Party Claims

 

Worker’s Compensation Benefits Only Go So Far

Workers’ compensation laws have two primary objectives:  The first is to ensure that injured workers receive the compensation they need following an on-the-job injury and the second is to ensure that injured workers received the compensation they need quickly and easily, and without anxiety as to whether the funds will actually be available.

Millions of injured workers have received funds dispersed by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), which compensates workers for lost wages, medical expenses and other expenses directly related to their injuries and losses sustained on the job. There is another loss for which the OWCP cannot reimburse workers: pain and suffering. This means that, despite injuries that are severe, injured workers are barred from OWCP compensation for:

  • Mental trauma associated with a serious injury or disability
  • The inability to accomplish the activities of daily living
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium on the part of a spouse or family member (in the event of the death of a worker)
  • Loss of mobility (except in relation to diminished earning capacity and other direct financial loss)

Fortunately, there is often a way for workers and their families to obtain additional, high-value, lump sum compensation following an injury on the job – a third-party claim.

What Is a Third-Party Claim?

To understand third-party claims, it’s important to understand that Worker’s Compensation claims are paid via the employer’s Worker’s Compensation insurance. In exchange for the benefit of receiving lost wages, medical expenses and other expenses to employees injured on the job, the injured employee relinquishes the right to sue the employer for damages.  Federal law limits what the insurance covers, leaving injured workers uncompensated for a range of losses.

Successful third-party claims result in compensation paid to an injured worker, or his or her family, not by Workman’s Compensation insurance but by a third party. A third party can be the insurer of a contractor, subcontractor, vendor or other party on a work site that was responsible for the accident and subsequent injuries, but not the injured worker's employer.

A third-party claim could look, generally like this:

While working for a roofing company, a roofing assistant sustains a concussion when a can of paint, owned by the house-painting contractor, falls on him from above. In the wake of the injury, the employee requires a great deal of medical care resulting in high medical bills and a month of missed work. The worker files for and receives compensation from the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs through his roofing company employer but this compensation only covers medical expenses and lost wages. In order to recover damages for the pain and suffering associated with the injury, the assistant hires a personal injury attorney and receives a high-value award for the other losses resulting from the injury. The award is not paid by the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs but instead by the insurer of the painting company whose negligence caused the injury. 

If you or a family member endured the pain, shock and loss of a serious on-the-job injury, you should investigate the possibility of a third-party claim. A third-party claim can result in compensation that covers your whole loss, not just the losses directly related to medical and wage expense. To learn more about third-party claims, contact a personal injury lawyer. 


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  The New York City (NYC) personal injury law firm, Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green P.C., represents clients in Manhattan and New York County, Brooklyn and Kings County, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, as well as serving Nassau County and Long Island, Suffolk County, Rockland County, Westchester County, Harlem and throughout the State of New York.



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