Injured On A Treadmill? Your Fall May Not Be Your Fault

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Treadmills are one of the most popular piece type of exercise equipment in use—but they're also a common source of serious injuries. One study indicates that treadmills were responsible for 66% of accidents related to exercise equipment between 2007 and 2011. If you're injured in a treadmill accident, is it just bad luck? Is anybody to blame? This is what you should know about these kinds of accidents.

There are many types of possible injuries.

Head trauma is one of the most common types of injuries associated with treadmills, but users who slip and fall can end up with broken bones, amputated toes and fingers, skin burns from the running belt, dislocated hips, and spinal cord damage.

A basic fall can be complicated by the moving parts of the treadmill, which continue operating automatically—people get body parts caught beneath the running belt or land on the belt while it's in motion and get knocked around harder than they would if they simply fell on the ground. 

Defects in design are a common problem.

While user error may be the cause of some accidents, others are caused by the treadmills themselves. Home gym equipment sometimes comes with DIY instructions for assembly—and they aren't always the clearest. Even if you thought you followed the instructions, you could find the equipment less-than-stable under your feet.

Design flaws also account for a number of treadmill accidents—grip bars that are poorly positioned can make it harder to maintain your balance, and a poorly designed belt can cause your footing to be unstable. A treadmill that has mechanical issues could also suddenly stop, sending the user face down on the belt. Treadmills that don't have a kill switch, which is designed to stop the machine when the user falls, are also poorly designed.

In these cases, you may have a valid claim against either the manufacturer of the treadmill, for making the defective product, or the retailer you bought it from, for selling you a defective product. If there's a wholesaler or distributor involved, they may also be liable. Product liability laws make everyone involved in the chain of distribution potentially liable if a defective treadmill led to your injuries.

Improper supervision and care in gyms are also problems.

A lot of people are injured on treadmills while they're at their favorite gym—and many of those accidents could be avoided. Equipment that's in poor condition should be shut down immediately in order to prevent people from getting hurt, but that doesn't always happen. If attendants failed to do regular inspections of the equipment for safety, the gym could be liable for your injuries.

Treadmills also each have a maximum weight limit that should be clearly advertised or communicated to you by gym attendants. If you're over the allowable maximum weight, you could easily end up on a machine that destabilizes when you're running on it. 

Sometimes the injuries from falling off a treadmill are compounded because there's no safe landing place—treadmills that are stacked too close together increase the risk of serious injuries. For example, a client at a 24 Hour Fitness gym fell on a treadmill and hit her head on another machine that was placed too closely to her own, in violation of safety requirements. If the other machine had been further away, her injuries might not have been as severe.

If you were injured while using a treadmill at home or in a gym, talk to a personal injury attorney like Charlie Tucker P.A. about your case. It's possible that you could have avoided serious injury if the machine had been better designed or if more attention had been paid to safety features.