As you’ve all probably noticed, it’s been unseasonably hot out lately. Summer is almost here, which means many of us will soon be diving into a swimming pool to beat the heat. Swimming pools are fun, but they may also bring serious risks and potential liability. Pool owners, whether at a private residence or commercial setting, can potentially face liability when a swimmer or visitor to the pool is injured. If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident, the pool owner may face liability for the harm you or your loved one suffered. A personal injury attorney with experience in pool accident liability cases should be consulted before taking any legal or insurance related action.
Premises Liability Rules Apply
Since a pool is considered part of the property on which it is located, premises liability rules of law will apply in a personal injury suit. “Premises liability” is a legal concept that typically comes into play in personal injury cases where the injury was caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition on someone's property.
Although rules vary from state to state, premises liability usually recognizes three different types of “entrants” on the land (trespassers, licensees and invitees) and different degrees of care owed by the owner to each type of entrant. The following is a brief description of each in the context of swimming pool liability:
Invitees: Visitors to pools that are open to the public, whether for a fee or free-of-charge, are usually classified as “invitees.” Pool owners are under a duty to do a reasonable job maintaining and repairing the pool so that invitees are not injured.
Licensees: Social guests using a pool on private property are usually classified as “licensees.” Pool owners are under a duty to warn licensees of dangers that are not obvious to the average person.
Trespassers: A pool owner does not owe a trespasser a duty of care, other than to refrain from causing the trespasser intentional harm. However, a major exception to this rule is when the trespasser is a minor child. If the trespasser is a child, under the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, pool owners have a duty to prevent access to the pool, for example by installing a fence, when children would otherwise be able to enter.
Homeowner liability stems from negligence, or the failure to do what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances. If a homeowner is negligent in keeping the pool area safe and inaccessible, then he could be liable for injuries suffered in or around the pool. For example, let’s say you go to a friend’s house and there is shattered glass in the pool. You dive in and slice your foot, preventing you from working for three weeks. Your friend knew that there was glass in the pool but failed to warn you. You may bring a claim against your friend’s homeowner’s insurance and recover damages.
Public Swimming Pool Liability
Liability in public swimming pools may be complex. There are three main legal theories involved in regard to public pools: negligence, product liability and premises liability.
Negligence: If the equipment was improperly installed, you might have a cause of action in negligence against the installers. The owner of a swimming pool may also be found vicariously liable for the failures of its employees.
Product Liability: If there was an actual problem with the swimming pool, or the equipment attached to the swimming pool, you may have a product liability lawsuit against the swimming pool manufacturers, retailers or distributors.
Premises Liability: Lack of adequate warnings, poor or absent safety equipment, lack of safety fencing or alarms, and lack of supervision may hold the swimming pool owner liable.
When can an injured person file a personal injury claim against a property owner after a pool-related accident?
In order to bring a successful claim against the owner or operator of a swimming pool, it must be proven that they failed to meet their legal responsibility to keep the pool or swimming area and its surroundings safe as required by law. If it can be proven that the drowning or other injury occurred as a result of the property owner’s negligence, they may be held responsible and required to pay monetary damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool related accident, immediately give Quintana Law a call for a FREE consultation at (602) 418-0733. We can help.