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Summer dangers: Swimming pool liabilities

Spring is coming! If you live in a warmer part of the United States, it isn't too early to be thinking about digging out that pool that you always wanted.

However, you might want to pause your plans after you think about the potential dangers a swimming pool brings.

Almost any pool bring with it possible hazards to life and limb. Drownings are one obvious possibility. So are head injuries and spinal trauma from people jumping in shallow water or landing on each other as they carelessly dive in. Broken limbs are another potential problem.

If you haven't considered the possibility of liability for any of these things, you can bet that your insurance company has -- because your insurance costs are probably going to go up the moment you break ground for that pool.

If you decide to go ahead with your plans anyhow, there are a couple of things that you need to know:

You're liable for the safety of your guests

Most people don't want to own a pool that they can't share with friends. Unfortunately, every friend you invite over could be a potential lawsuit in the making.

You bear the responsibility for making sure that the water is clean and without infections, everything is in operating order and everyone behaves themselves while they are there.

It's difficult to predict every possible thing that can go wrong at a pool -- which is why your insurance goes up when you get one.

A pool is considered an "attractive nuisance"

That means that it sure looks interesting to the local children. Unlike adults, children under a certain age aren't expected to observe the niceties of a "Keep Out" sign. Because they're generally too young to protect themselves, the obligation falls on the person who owns the attractive nuisance -- not the parents, as you might think. You need to make sure that you fence off the pool and keep the ladder out of reach and locked off.

Anybody who gets hurt at a pool has the potential to file a lawsuit against the owner based on premise liability laws. It's pretty much the owner's duty to make sure that everything is either perfectly safe -- or perfectly inaccessible.

Source: FindLaw, "Who Is Liable for Drowning and Accidents in Private Pools?," Ephrat Livni, accessed April 06, 2018

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