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We get massages to relax, heal an injury, or as long-term therapy. In essence, we go to a massage therapist to feel better. But that's not always the case.
As with any medical or therapeutic treatment, a massage doesn't always go as planned, and sometimes a massage can result in injury. If that happens, can you sue?
What Kind of Lawsuit?
Suing for a massage injury is much like a classic medical malpractice case: Spas, gyms, and the massage therapists they employ owe patients a standard of care equal to their expertise. If a therapist fails to meet this standard, he or she could be at fault for malpractice. However, depending on state statues, a massage therapists may not be considered a health care provider, so a medical malpractice suit wouldn't apply. If this is the case, you still may be able to sue for negligence.
Whether the therapist causes a new injury or fails to recommend medical treatment when it's required, a massage client could have a negligence claim. This type of claim would entail arguing that:
Who Can You Sue?
While a massage therapist may be liable for your injury, you may also have a claim against the owners and operators of hotels, health spas, gyms, and other facilities hosting massages. Under the theory of vicarious liability, employers can be held liable for the negligence of their employees.
In medical malpractice-type cases, other staff may also be responsible for negligence. And if there is an unsafe condition at the massage facility, you may have a premises liability claim: property owners, especially those open to the public, must maintain a hazard-free premises and could for injuries that occur on their property.
To avoid massage injuries, only use licensed and accredited massage therapists. If you've been injured during a massage, you can consult an experienced injury attorney near you.
Editors Note, July 12, 2016: This article has been updated to clarify that injury lawsuits against massage therapists are usually based on negligence claims.