Episode 106: How to Ensure You’re Best Protected from Lawsuits with Danielle Stead

Danielle Stead

It’s a fear that lurks in the back of the minds of personal trainers, online trainers, group fitness instructors, and studio owners all over the world- what if there’s an incident in our training sessions

Danielle Stead

Fitness Business Coach

It’s a fear that lurks in the back of the minds of personal trainers, online trainers, group fitness instructors, and studio owners all over the world- what if there’s an incident in our training sessions or classes and someone approaches us with a lawsuit. What is that process like? How can we ensure that we are best prepared, and have done all of our due diligence? With extensive experience in law, as well as being a fitness business coach, listen as Danielle shares everything you need to know about liability waivers, liability insurance, and personal liability insurance- something that she has found is a hot button topic amongst her clients.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

• What you need to be sure you have in place to ensure you’re shielded from lawsuits

• In the case a lawsuit does happen- what the process looks like and how to best handle it

• What you need to know in the new space of online training

Here’s the Complete List of Tips:

(17:00) What is a liability waiver anyway?

The biggest reason to have one in place. You’re not preventing injury; you’re not preventing a lawsuit; you are taking the steps necessary as an owner to make sure that your business is operating reasonably and safely, and you have done your part to take an activity like fitness which is inherently dangerous, and making it safer. It’s not a a prevention device- it’s more of a shield.

(21:00) Let’s walk through a scenario

If a client injures themselves doing a complicated move in their class and they come back to the studio threatening a lawsuit, this the litigation process you can expect, and how you can limit your liability as a a studio owner, personal trainer, online coach, or group fitness instructor.

(24:00) You have to make sure that you include your studio name and description of the activities in your liability waiver

Hard work isn’t enough to get you there. Many of us can get caught in a grind of doing a lot of hard work efficiently. Efficient means getting more done faster. Effective means doing the right stuff in the first place. And don’t forget to rest- work and rest are not opposites, they are synergists!

2. You also have to ensure that you have liability insurance

You need to have liability insurance as a studio owner, and it is a good idea to have your instructors have liability insurance as well.

3. What’s happening on the ground?

Are your trainers properly trained? Do they have training certificates? Everyone in the studio must be CPR/ AED certified. If someone has an episode, you as a studio owner are 100% responsible for ensuring everyone is prepared.

(29:20) 4. What have you ensured your team knows about coaching and cueing?

Your studio should have a policy on how complicated moves are cued so there is consistency, so it’s easier for trainers to spot and correct improper form.

(31:30) 5. You need to document every incident

You need to be able to document exactly what happened and when in your studio- from a stubbed toe to a seizure. We don’t know what people do after they leave your studio- injuries could have happened outside of your space.

(35:20) Let’s say it moves to a lawsuit

Anyone has the ability to sue anyone for anything. What matters is whether they have a leg to stand on. The first thing to do is to go back to your records. This is where liability insurance is extremely important. It’s important as an instructor to have your own, even if your studio has insurance, because you don’t know what the studio’s will cover. More often than not, when a lawsuit arises, your insurance will take care of it.

(42:00) Let’s talk about online training

You’re going to want to have a similar setup. Be a certified trainer. Include a liability waiver in your communication with your clients. Ensure it says that they will be self guided. They won’t have someone there to correct their form- it will be their responsibility. You still need to have liability insurance.

(52:30)  A quick note on downloading waivers off of Google- what information absolutely needs to be in there?

Your name, a description of the activity you’re doing, the degree of strain of the activity (you’ll be exposed to hot temperatures, high intensity intervals, high heart-rate levels, etc.), ensuring medical clearance for what you’re doing.

References in the Episode:

Precision Nutrition

Change Maker by Dr. John Berardi

The Art of Coaching and Cueing Online Course

Show Note's Index