It’s summertime in southern Florida, which means locals and tourists alike look to the water to escape the heat. This time of year, many residents flock to local pools to beat the heat and get a reprieve from the summer swelter. What happens, however, when a person sustains an injury when using a public pool? Who will be liable for any damages that result? The answer will depend largely on the circumstances, so speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer as soon as you can.
A Matter of Premises Liability
Generally, a public pool will fall under the state laws governing premises liability. This subset of personal injury law holds that property owners must use a reasonable degree of care when opening their premises to invitees. This includes protecting invitees and guests from reasonably foreseeable hazards that might result from being on the property itself.
Essentially, a person looking to hire a personal injury lawyer and file a claim for damages on the basis of premises liability must establish a few key elements, including:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care. Generally, a property owner only owes a duty of care to invitees, not to trespassers. However, exceptions to this rule exist, especially for children. The attractive nuisance doctrine may apply to swimming pool accidents.
- He or she knew, or should have known, about a defective or dangerous condition on the property, but did not correct it. Swimming pools have an inherent degree of risk, but property owners still have a duty to protect guests from hazards by monitoring chlorine levels, providing adequate supervision, and keeping a tall fence around the perimeter to protect it from interested children.
- The property owner’s action or inaction led to your injuries.
- Your injuries were foreseeable. This is one of the most important elements of a premises liability case. If a property owner could not reasonably foresee the possibility of your injury, then it may be difficult to establish negligence. This highlights the need for an attorney with experience with premises liability law.
Other Grounds for Swimming Pool Liability Claims
Additionally, a public swimming pool owner may be liable for your or a loved one’s injuries on grounds of negligent supervision. Most public pools have lifeguards charged with assuring the safety of pool goers and intervening when necessary to prevent drowning. If a lifeguard fails to prevent a reasonably foreseeable injury, the public pool may be liable for any damages that result.
Finally, babysitters, nannies, or other daycare workers may be responsible for any injuries a child incurs at a pool. Lifeguards can only provide so much supervision of a pool; a degree of personal responsibility exists for caregivers. If your child sustained an injury in a public pool under another person’s direct supervision, that caregiver might be liable for any damages that result.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Finally, another element that might come into play in swimming pool accidents is the attractive nuisance doctrine. Under this rule, public entities may still be liable for any injuries a child incurs in a pool, even if it results from trespassing. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, anyone who has a feature on their property that might be attractive to children must take additional steps to protect it from trespassers. Pools, for example, must have a well-maintained, high fence that goes around the perimeter and has a locking gate. Failure to maintain this gate could be tantamount to negligence and establish liability in a swimming pool injury, even if a child was trespassing. If your child suffered an injury from sneaking into a pool, the owner might be liable under this doctrine.
In many instances, the owner of a public pool can be liable for any injuries you incur during its use. For further guidance, consult a personal injury attorney.