As a personal trainer working in a gym or independently, you should protect yourself from legal action for an unfortunate incident with a client by carrying professional liability insurance and following certain professional guidelines.
Even if you have an employer, the company may require you to carry liability insurance. Taking the right steps can help you reduce risk and harm, helping to protect your reputation as a personal trainer.
Reduce the risk of neglect
You are responsible for providing proper instruction and safety that meets industry standards.
However, some potentially unfortunate incidents can occur during a training session. These include:
- An injury due to poor instruction
- An injury that follows a recommended exercise program
- A client dissatisfied with your training services
- A post-exercise injury after an intense training session.
If an unfortunate incident results in an injury, the law calls this negligence due to your failure to provide the knowledge, care, or skill specific to your occupation. Therefore, you have a legal obligation to take care of your customers according to industry standards to prevent an aggrieved customer from proving negligence.
Four Elements of Neglect
In the US legal system, four elements can prove negligence: obligation, breach, cause and injury.
- Your professional duty to your client during training sessions includes proper instruction, supervision, a safe exercise program and a safe environment.
- Breach of duty comes from the lack of proper care, resulting in the injury of a client.
- Cause means that your breach of an obligation directly caused the harm to your client.
- Harm it is when the client suffers an injury as a result of your direct breach of duty.
Since it is inevitable that when a client brings a lawsuit, they will employ an attorney as a defendant, you should do the same. Liability insurance is the best way to protect yourself from the legal costs and time required to fight a negligence case.
Understanding Professional Liability Insurance
Professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance) protects you from legal action. However, it can also save you from defamation or slander (bodily harm), bodily injury and property damage to others. Liability insurance generally includes sexual misconduct, any temporary staff you hire, independent contractors, and investigation by the licensing board.
Insurance can protect you in many ways, even if you work for a gym, because the customer can choose to take legal action against the company and you. Your insurance coverage could also cover your legal defense, loss of income during the procedure, and possible medical expenses.
Understanding General Liability Insurance
General or commercial civil liability protects your business premises against material damage and physical risks (slips and falls), unlike professional civil liability which covers your services.
Reduce legal risks as a personal trainer
As a fitness professional, your training ensures that you provide the best physical training for the needs and safety of your clients. However, despite your best efforts, there may come a time when you face a lawsuit due to an unforeseen eventuality.
Good liability insurance remains essential, but by following best practices, you can keep your customers safe at all times. For example, make sure your clients sign essential documents before receiving your services and always keep them on file. Also, make sure the wording of the documents protects your interests and those of your client by having a lawyer review them.
Begin with an initial screening to determine the person’s fitness level and whether the client can safely participate in the exercise program without risk of injury.
Always stay focused
Stay focused during every workout so you can give the right instructions and properly supervise clients in all of their physical activities. Let your clients know you’re aiming to help them without pushing them, encouraging them to let you know when they need you to change the program.
Obtain informed consent
You need to make sure your client understands their goals, exercise program, if there are any potential risks, various medical issues, etc. Then, after discussing them verbally, write them down. Anyone considering a moderate or high risk client due to health and exercise history should bring you medical clearance.
Always keep track of your clients’ progress to ensure they are making the desired progress. Discuss their progress and changes before making any necessary changes. Data shows that the better your relationship, the less likely a customer is to take legal action after an unfortunate incident.
Plan your sessions
If you rush from client to client, chances are you won’t be as focused, which will lead to mistakes. Always leave enough time between sessions to allow you to take a break and move on to the next client.
Know the latest trends
Once you’ve qualified as a personal trainer, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to continue training. Keep up to date with the latest research, trends and training techniques in your industry to maintain your professional practice and reduce the risk of injury.
Keep a register
By keeping a record of each client session, such as a recording or notes, you can access important details about the exercise program, all occurrences during the workout, acute variables, and more. These recordings can even help you plan the next exercise session.
Waiver/Release and Assumption of Risk
A waiver/release form can protect you from liability in a dismissed lawsuit. Even in the worst case scenario, the form will help you establish a risk defense hypothesis. Always review the document with the client, allowing them to ask questions about the benefits and risks of the program they will be following. If you accept clients under 18, a parent/guardian must sign the form.
Protect yourself against personal injury claims with the steps mentioned above and good liability insurance that gives you peace of mind.