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It is common practice for people who have been injured to seek a personal trainer after they complete their medical treatment and rehabilitation.
They do this to continue strengthening their body as they work to fully recover from an accident.
Some personal trainers, however, push their clients too hard or simply do not understand how to deal with those who have an injury history. When this happens, people could be left in worse condition than when they first came to their trainers.
For a recent example, consider the story of a former Green Beret paratrooper in New York. David J. Walker claims a dumbbell worker at a Manhattan Equinox gym caused him to hurt his back, exacerbating a preexisting injury from his days in the Army. He has now filed a lawsuit against the gym after it refused to refund the personal training sessions for which he paid.
The 51-year-old Walker had purchased a 24-session package with trainer Carlos Torres at the Equinox gym, for a total of $2,544. In the lawsuit, Walker says he repeatedly told Torres he had suffered a major back injury while in the Army and that he was worried about worsening the injury.
Torres allegedly instructed Walker to use a foam roller on his lower back while rotating his legs in a semi-circle motion. Walker says he told Torres he thought it would be dangerous to do this given the condition of his lower back. During the second workout, Walker told Torres the exercise was uncomfortable, but the trainer attempted to reassure him that it was normal for the body to adjust to the exercise in such a way.
Walker says the pain was so severe the next morning that he could not go in to work and had to lie down the entire weekend, icing himself and taking Ibuprofen. After researching foam rollers, he discovered warnings not to use them on the lower back.
The gym has said it would issue the refund if Walker presents a doctor’s note. He says he already has a note from a physician at the Veteran’s Administration that states he cannot work out for at least six months due to the injury.
Questions of liability
When an issue like Walker’s arises, who is considered the liable party? The legal principle of vicarious liability states that the actions of the employee are, in essence, the same as those of the employer. If Torres is employed by the gym, then the gym would be the defendant in the lawsuit.
Many gyms, however, bring in independent contractors to serve as trainers, or bring in trainers from an outside agency. In these situations, the gym itself might still bear some responsibility if the plaintiff can prove the gym was negligent in bringing in the trainer or agency. An independent contractor would likely face liability, as would a third-party agency.
For further guidance on how you should proceed in your personal injury case, meet with a knowledgeable New York lawyer at Robinson & Yablon, P.C.