Legal & Risk Management
By Sean Riley, MS, JD

Liability and Damages for Fitness-Based Lawsuits
Understanding the categories of legal damages awarded to plaintiffs. Over the past several issues, we have examined the risks involved in failing to prioritize legal responsibilities in your fitness career and discussed how to actively manage those risks in your daily operations. Now it is time to take the next step and learn about the different categories of legal damages you might have to pay should you be liable for another’s injuries. Although this material can be highly technical, a general understanding of it is indispensable to anyone training clients in today’s highly litigious society. Most lawsuits brought against fitness professionals involve negligence. While damages are the focus of this particular column, remember that, in any negligence case, the following four elements must be satisfied: I a legal duty I a breach of that duty I causation I damages (Champion 2000)
Nominal Damages

Compensatory Damages
First and foremost, damages are required in order for there to be a legitimate case alleging negligence. More specifically, actual injury is required. Unlike in intentional torts, no nominal damages can be awarded in a negligence case (American Law Institute 1979;