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Claims and Litigation

by NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition
November 2019

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This article briefly discusses what personal trainers should know about claims and lawsuits.

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

Many personal trainers will never face a client claim or litigation related to their delivery of service. However, a good number of these professionals will be on the receiving end of such claims and lawsuits. As a consequence, it is important for personal trainers to understand the process through which such claims and lawsuits are determined, the manner and environment within which such matters are resolved, and the rules or legal concepts associated with the ultimate resolution of client claims and suits.

Claims and litigation are surely stressful for the party who asserts and institutes the proceedings. Professionals who must respond to and defend against such claims are also likely to be stressed by the mere receipt of a claim, not to mention by their defense against the filing and receipt of a lawsuit asserted against them related to a claim that is not resolved prior to its judicial determination.

While there is no hard, empirical evidence to clearly indicate that claims and litigation against fitness professionals and specifically personal trainers are increasing, it appears that this is indeed the case. This likely increase in claims and suits is probably due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the general tendency of the population to seek redress for everything or anything that may go wrong or astray in their lives. Such feelings may well include the concept “If something bad happens to me, it must be someone else’s fault.” In addition, there are more lawyers than ever before to assert claims and file lawsuits on behalf of clients. The “rules” regarding the appropriate provision of personal training services have also developed in recent times, so now it is somewhat clearer to members of the public what the expected level of personal training service should be and whether or not that level of service has been met in particular cases.

All of these factors and more, including the growth of the population, the aging of the population, and the increase in fitness activity participation for some segments of the population, lead to more activity involving a somewhat more “fragile” group of participants than ever before, more untoward events associated with the activity, and thus more claims and suits. However, if the personal training profession is adequately prepared, those professionals should be able to avoid, minimize, or adequately respond to and defend against relevant claims and suits.

NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition, is the authoritative text for personal trainers, health and fitness instructors, and other fitness professionals as well as the primary preparation source for those taking the National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®) exam. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.

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