Legal Question in Personal Injury in Maryland

Fitness Class Liabilities

We are a ballet school who offers adult pilates classes. We are curious if we need to have them sign liability forms to protect us against injury, if it is even worth having them. How well do these forms hold up in court? Is it really that necessary to have these forms to protect our company against lawsuits? If so, what would they need to say? Thanks so much for your impending response.

Asked on 2/04/06, 2:33 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Sher Wagshal and Sher

Re: Fitness Class Liabilities

A few years ago the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a provision in a membership agreement between a fitness club and a member that waived the liability of the club in the event of injury to the member, even if it resulted from the negligence of a trainer working with the member. The court reasoned that the member was free to join any club and didn't have to join this one if he didn't like the terms of membership. I suspect that this decision led many such facilities to put similar language in their membership agreements if it wasn't there before. So you can see that it would be very valuable to have such a provision in your documents, as well as insurance coverage to back you up.

Robert Sher

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Answered on 2/06/06, 9:32 am

G. Joseph Holthaus III Law Offices of G. Joseph Holthaus

Re: Fitness Class Liabilities

Proper formation and operation of the business entity is a good method to protect the interests of the entity's owners. There is more to this than merely setting up the business.

There are several actions that can be taken to protect the business entity. An obvious option is to purchase premises and liability insurance. An acknowledgement and waiver may also be used. The waiver needs to be properly drafted for the indended purpose. Such a document may not be effective if it is either too broad or too narrow. Care should be taken to ensure that the assertions within such a document do not render it legally void.

Your written contracts with your clients may also need to be modified.

You should consider consulting an attorney to discuss your specific needs.

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Answered on 2/05/06, 11:44 am

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