In today’s world of personal training, you get the privilege of helping multiple clients reach their personal fitness goals. Through hard work and training, your clients can see their desired results and become better versions of themselves. This all sounds great, but what happens when something goes wrong? What happens when a client gets hurt while under your instruction?
Every profession comes with risks and rewards. So, how do you protect yourself from the risky side of personal training? In this blog, we will go over some of the best steps you can take to keep yourself safe as a personal trainer. We’ll cover why clients sue, how to prevent a lawsuit, and what to do before that happens. Let’s get this exercise started, shall we?
Why Clients Sue Their Personal Trainers
Of course, there can be several reasons why a client may sue their personal trainer. In cases where there has been a liability violation, breach of contract, or other such issues, the client may feel they have a right to compensation. Let’s take a further look at each of these issues.
Liability is the risk of having to pay for something the law says you’re responsible for. In the realm of personal training, liabilities can be the potential for bodily harm to a client, such as an injury, chemical reaction, or aggravation of a medical condition. If an incident with a client results in one of these, it may give them the motivation to file a liability lawsuit against you.
Insure Fitness Group covers three essential types of liability in our personal trainer insurance policy. With complete coverage for each of these areas, you should be well-protected from a lawsuit due to a liability issue.
The three types of liability that our policy covers include:
- Professional Liability: Professional liability is the direct result of your work as a personal trainer. These are typically physical injuries such as broken bones, torn ligaments, strained muscles, aggravated conditions, or severe medical distress. Because of the intense nature of personal training, the risk of professional liability is more significant than in some other wellness-related professions.
- General Liability: General liability claims are often called “slip & fall” claims, as those are among the most common injuries in the category. These injuries are not directly related to your fitness instruction and could occur in any occupation. For example, if a client trips over a loose area rug in the entryway and injures themselves, they could potentially hold you liable for a general liability claim.
- Product Liability: Product liability is related to the chemicals, cleaners, and other products you may use in your work area. If a client has an allergic reaction to the brand of chalk powder you use, the cleaner you wipe down your equipment with, or a machine malfunctions while in use, it could result in physical harm to a client. While not every personal trainer will use products, it becomes more likely when you consider the equipment you utilize. Plus, with the use of weight machines and racks, the risk of accidents and injury becomes much higher.
Apart from liabilities, another reason a client may want to sue their personal fitness instructor is they have expectations that are not being met. This could be a certain physical goal the client wants to achieve, a certain weight they want to be at, or some skill they would like to develop. If your clients have an ideal goal in mind that is not being realized, it could cause them to seek legal action.
Mismanaged expectations are a tricky issue when it comes to lawsuits. However, they can typically be avoided by simple and clear communication. Keeping your clients well-informed regarding their physical fitness goals can help you avoid confusion or misunderstanding. By managing your client's expectations and communicating clearly, you can help them understand their fitness journey and avoid mismanaged expectations on their end. This could end up saving a major legal issue in the future.
Breach of Contract
Another reason a client may choose to file a lawsuit against their personal trainer is when you have a contract that promises a service or action on their part that you do not fulfill. The easiest way to avoid a breach of contract on your end is to stay informed on what you are obligated to do for your clients. Keep yourself armed with the knowledge of your responsibilities and duty of care, then act on it.
When you first meet with a new client, be sure that you both have a clear understanding of what your responsibilities are. Upholding your end of any contract between you can help keep you out of serious trouble.
Preparing Legal Protection for Personal Trainers
Now that we have covered some of the reasons a personal trainer might be facing a lawsuit let’s look at how to prevent and prepare for one. There are several safeguards a personal trainer can put in place to protect yourself. By shoring up your defenses, you can potentially stop a lawsuit from happening beforehand. In addition to communicating and managing expectations with your clients, here are some additional preventative measures you can take.
Contracts and Release of Liability
We’ve already discussed having a contract with your clients, but what should that contract contain? While legal documents should always be made with an attorney, every contract should include several elements to make your clients fully and legally aware of your services and obligations.
A few components you should consider having in your new client documents include:
- Explanation of services: First off, you should tell your clients what they can expect as far as your services. This section should include any modalities you will instruct, the expected exercises you will coach on, and the physical expectations of your personal training.
- The setting for training: Here is where you specify the location of your classes or sessions, the equipment you will use, and any environmental elements that your clients may come into contact with while under your instruction.
- Potential risks: In this section, your contract will spell out the potential risks that are posed to your clients by engaging in your services. Be thorough in this section and as detailed as possible. The more you inform your clients of the risk prior to their first session, the better legal standing you will have.
- Acknowledgment of client's health: Here, your clients will acknowledge that they are in a healthy condition and physically able to engage in physical activity.
- Recognition of personal volition: Have your clients acknowledge that they are making the decision to undergo physical activity and agree to your terms of their own free will. This means that no one is forcing them to sign your contract or employ your services.
- Release of liability: Finally, a release of liability acknowledges the previous information has been read and understood, and the client agrees to waive any liability specified in the contract.
With a good lawyer preparing a contract with these elements, you are building up your defense against a lawsuit before it even happens.
Protecting Yourself with Personal Trainer Insurance
Unfortunately, even if you do all you can to prevent a case, you may still face one over your career. The time to think about what to do in the event of a lawsuit is not in the midst of it. On the contrary, preparing ahead of time with personal trainer insurance is one of the best ways to protect yourself as a personal trainer. Not only will fitness instructor insurance help keep your finances secure when facing a lawsuit, but it also offers peace of mind for the future.
We’ve discussed what can go wrong as a personal trainer. Knowing that you have safeguards in place for yourself and your finances means you are prepared for whatever comes your way. In addition to being a valuable asset while facing a legal issue, Insure Fitness Group’s personal trainer insurance has much to offer regarding coverage and benefits.
Protection for Liability Lawsuits
If a client gets hurt and files a lawsuit against you, personal fitness instructor insurance can help cover the costs of a liability claim. Say a client overexerts themselves and has an injury while in a session with you. They could hold you liable for their medical expenses, time away from work, legal fees, etc. If you’re left without coverage, it could be overwhelming.
Personal trainer insurance is the protection you need to secure your finances and career. With coverage for professional, general, and product liability, our insurance policy for personal trainers has you completely covered.