Pool DrowningSwimming Pool Accidents and Drownings: When is the Property Owner at Fault?

June 23, 20240

Swimming pools provide hours of entertainment and exercise for many American families. However, they can also lead to tragic accidents and drownings if pool owners fail to take proper safety precautions. This article will examine the legal liability of pool owners when someone is injured or drowns in their pool.

Pool Owner Duties

In legal terms, swimming pool owners have a “duty of care” to anyone who uses their pool. This means they must take reasonable steps to ensure the pool is properly maintained and safe for swimmers. Exactly what constitutes “reasonable care” will depend on the laws in each state and the specific circumstances of the accident. However, some general duties of pool owners include:

  • Complying with all state and local regulations regarding pool fencing, gates, lighting, signage, and other safety requirements
  • Regularly inspecting the pool and equipment for any hazards or needed repairs
  • Ensuring water clarity and proper chlorine levels are maintained
  • Providing life-saving equipment like life rings or hooks in case of emergency
  • Having clear pool rules and supervising swimmers, especially children
  • Checking pool drains and suction devices to prevent entrapment accidents
  • Keeping the pool area clean and free of slip hazards

When a pool owner fails to fulfill these duties, they may be considered negligent if someone is injured as a result.

Premises Liability Lawsuits

Most pool accident lawsuits against property owners will be based on premises liability claims. This area of law makes landowners responsible when dangerous conditions on their property lead to injuries.

Typical premises liability lawsuits involve situations where:

  • A child trespasses onto a property and drowns in a pool that was not properly fenced or secured. Even though the child was trespassing, the pool owner still owes a basic duty of care.
  • Someone slips and falls due to a wet, slick pool deck that did not have “no diving” warnings or slip-resistant surfaces. This is considered a dangerous condition the owner should have remedied.
  • Entrapment in faulty drain covers or suction ports causes drowning or serious injuries. The owner failed to properly maintain the pool equipment.
  • Overcrowding and lack of supervision creates an unsafe swimming environment leading to drowning. The property owner failed their duty to supervise guests.

To prove liability in these cases, the injured person must show:

  • The property owner created or knew about the dangerous condition
  • They failed to take reasonable steps to fix or warn people about the hazard
  • This failure directly led to the injury or drowning

Often, legal experts are needed to investigate the accident and provide evidence of exactly how the owner was negligent.

Additional Liability Issues

Other legal issues may impact whether the property owner is liable, including:

  • Social Host Liability – Most states have social host liability laws that can make homeowners liable if they serve alcohol to minors or visibly intoxicated guests who later are injured in the pool.
  • Water Quality Issues – Pool owners may face liability if poor chemical maintenance leads to contamination that makes swimmers sick.
  • Residential vs Commercial Pools – Residential pool owners usually face lower liability standards than commercial pools serving paying guests. However, AirBnB and other short-term rentals can blur these lines.
  • Waivers – Well-crafted waivers can limit pool owners’ liability, but they are not ironclad protections, especially when gross negligence is involved.
  • Building Code Violations – Failure to meet local building codes during pool construction could be used as evidence of negligence.
  • Inadequate Security – Owners may be liable if lack of fencing or gates, broken locks, etc. allow unsupervised access leading to drowning.
  • Failure to Post Warnings – Not posting “No Diving” or “No Lifeguard” warnings may contribute to liability for diving injuries.
  • Incorrect Pool Depth Markings – Marking shallow areas as deeper than they are or vice versa can lead to injuries.
  • Lack of Proper Lighting – Low light conditions that hide hazards may indicate negligence.
  • Unsafe Pool Slides – Malfunctioning or poorly designed slides causing injuries may implicate the owner.

Damages in Pool Injury Lawsuits

If pool owners are found legally liable for injuries or wrongful death, damages may include:

  • Medical expenses from near drowning, brain damage, paralysis, etc.
  • Lost income and disability costs now and in the future
  • Rehabilitation and life care expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages in cases of extreme recklessness
  • Wrongful death damages like funeral expenses, lost companionship for family members, etc.

These costs can total hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in severe pool accident cases. Pool liability insurance is crucial to protect homeowners.

When to Hire an Accident Attorney

After a catastrophic pool-related injury or drowning, victims and their families should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can launch an in-depth investigation into the cause of the incident and identify any negligence by the pool owner or other liable parties. They can handle the litigation process, deal with insurance companies, and make sure victims receive full and fair compensation.

A lawyer can also advise victims on the best medical care options and treatments to mitigate injuries. Tapping into the lawyer’s network of experts, such as accident reconstructionists, aquatic safety specialists, economists, and life care experts, can greatly strengthen the case.

Don’t delay – statutes of limitations restrict how long victims have to file a claim. Consulting a lawyer immediately helps ensure evidence is preserved and the strongest case is built.

Let Our Attorneys Fight for You

No amount of money can make up for the devastating loss and trauma of losing a loved one to drowning. But holding negligent pool owners accountable and making them pay for their carelessness is an important step on the road to justice and recovery. Our accomplished injury law firm has a proven track record of success in pool accident litigation. Contact us today for a free consultation – we will evaluate your case at no charge and advise you of the best legal options.

Visit our office at 15 Broad St #800 Boston, MA 02109.

Or call now for a free consultation on (617) 263-0860.

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