I want to know if I got hurt using gymequipment at my house if I can make a case against the company?

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I want to know if I got hurt using gymequipment at my house if I can make a case against the company?

I was doing pull-ups on the pull-up bar from the iron total gym at my house on Thursday afternoon. The bar, which is said to be completely safe and secure, came off the door frame as I was going up and I fell with all my wight in my right foot which ultimately collapsed and I fell to the ground. I was taken to the emergency room and I was told that I have a Trimalleolar fracture. I was put into a splint and my bones are temporarily back in place while I await for surgery. I want to know if I can make a case against the company of total gym which assures the safety of their products.

Asked on October 23, 2010 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Products liability is a specific area of law that takes several forms, from warranties of merchantability to pure negligence.  Here is the problem.  Usually, the individuals within the stream of commerce can held liable for any inherent problems with a particular product, unless one can definitely point to the quality of the manufacturing and nothing had changed when it was in the retailer's hands.  That is why open box items in stores are usually sold as is with no warranties.  Here, you need to think about whether or not this product required you or someone else to install it or assemble it.  If it did, the first defense from the company would be if it was installed improperly and if so, if you ran the risk of injury by essentially changing the quality of the product with an improper install.  You should certainly speak to a personal injury attorney who specializes in products liability.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may have a claim for negligence against both the manufacturer of the gym equipment and the seller of the gym equipment.  This area of law is called products liability.  When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills and medical reports.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury  and will determine the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for the medical bills and any wage loss would be straight reimbursement.  The manufacturer and the seller of the product could assert the defense of assumption of the risk to your lawsuit for negligence.  Assumption of the risk means that you recognized and understood the danger and voluntarily chose to encounter it.  For example, assumption of the risk may be an applicable defense if the bar was not properly attached to the door.

Negligence is based on the exercise of due care to prevent foreseeable harm.  Due care here is that degree of care that a reasonable manufacturer would have exercised to prevent foreseeable injury.  This may have involved a different design or different manufacturing process.  You would have to prove that the manufacturer's failure to exercise due care breached a duty of care owed to you and was the actual and proximate cause of your injury.  Actual cause means but for the bar detaching would you have been injured?  If the answer is no, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events that caused your injury? If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.

In addition to your cause of action for negligence, you could include a separate cause of action (claim) for strict liability.  Strict liability means that even if the manufacturer exercised due care, the manufacturer is still liable for the injury caused by the defective product.  The seller is liable even if the seller could not have discovered the defect in the product. Assumption of the risk is also a defense to strict liability.

In addition to your claims for negligence  and strict liability in your lawsuit, additional causes of action (claims) to include in your lawsuit would be breach of express warranty if there was an applicable warranty in effect at the time of your injury; breach of implied warranty of merchantability and breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.  Breach of express warranty as mentioned would only be applicable if there was a written warranty in effect at the time of your injury.  Breach of implied warranty of merchantability and breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose  are always applicable.  The implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose are unwritten and have no time constraints as to their applicability.  Breach of implied warranty of merchantability means the product was not of a quality acceptable in the trade.  Breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose means the product was not suitable for its intended purpose. gym equipment for doing pull-ups. 

Prior to filing your lawsuit, contact the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and seller of the gym equipment.  A lawsuit might not be necessary if the case can be settled with the insurance carriers when you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or when you reach a point where you are permanent and stationary meaning that no further improvement is anticipated.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and/or seller, file your lawsuit.  If the case is not settled, you will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  If you settle the case with one of the defendants, then your lawsuit would only name the other defendant.  If you do not settle with either defendant, then you would name both the manufacturer and seller as defendants in your lawsuit.  If it getting close to the expiration of the statute of limitations and the case has not been settled, file your lawsuit.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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