Primary Health Club Legal Risks and Considerations
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Paul R. Bedard, Esquire
The start of the New Year provides a great reminder to regularly assess your club's ability to minimize the primary legal risks that are present within the health club industry. The number and variety of legal hazards that exist within our industry are far too great to adequately address within this space. Therefore, the following information will only touch upon some of the most prevalent legal risks that health club owners and operators must proactively consider to minimize their legal exposure.
I have more thoroughly addressed the legal risks detailed within the following comments in previous issues of Club Insider. However, this article is intended to provide a summary and compilation of the health club industry's primary legal risks, along with some fundamental tips to address the corresponding risks. For a more in-depth look at these topics, the Club Insider Archives are an excellent resource (www.clubinsideronline.com/archives).
It is important to note that this article, and my previously published articles, are not intended as legal advice. Facts and circumstances unique to each situation, along with varying state and local laws, prohibit one-size-fits-all recommendations. Therefore, the following information is intended to be an educational guide. Please consult an attorney for specific direction in this regard.
Premises Liability Claims
Premises liability claims represent a significant aspect of a club's legal exposure. From a legal standpoint, club members and guests are considered invitees. Invitees are owed a reasonable duty of care, protected from injuries caused by reasonably foreseeable risks. Therefore, maintain and archive a facility inspection schedule with absolute consistency. Promptly document any facility defects and have clear policies in place regarding the process and timeline for addressing these defects. Consistency is key here. A facility defect that goes unaddressed, whether it is a known defect or one that reasonably should have been known, will increase a club's liability exposure.
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