A Pool Owner’s Liability in the Event of a Pool Accident

Premises liability refers to the legal principle that holds owners, lessees or occupiers of properties responsible for injuries suffered (by certain individuals) on their property. A premises liability case usually rests on the concept that a property owner had been negligent in using or exercising the standard of care that is ordinarily required of him/her.

Now, since swimming pools are located inside someone’s property, whether this property is privately owned or open for public use, lawsuits dealing with injuries sustained in or around a pool will have to be tried under premises liability rules.

Premises liability rules vary somewhat from one state to another. While some states have dismissed the practice of distinguishing or categorizing entrants/users of a pool, there are still those that recognize three different types of entrants on the land, namely: invitees, licensees and trespassers. Each type of entrant, of course, requires a different degree of care from the owner.

“Invitees” refer to patrons of public pools, whether access to the pool requires a fee or is free of charge. To invitees, pool owners owe the duty of regularly maintaining and repairing the pool so nobody is at risk of injury.

“Licensee” entrants refer to social guests who use a pool inside a private property. To licensees, a pool owners owes the obligation of warning them of the dangers not obvious to the average person. Towards “trespassers,” however, a pool owner owes no duty of care, other than refraining from doing something intentionally that will harm the trespasser. The only thing a trespasser may be entitled to acquire after illegally entering a private property, using the pool inside that property and getting injured, is the title “injured trespasser,” since (adult) trespassers are generally never legally entitled to receive compensation for injuries that they sustain. If the trespasser is a child, however, then the owner may be held accountable for that child’s injuries. This accountability is based on the attractive nuisance doctrine (which is observed in many states) which says that pool owners have the obligation to: keep the pool safe from young children who do not understand the danger of drowning; and to prevent access to the pool, by building a fence around it, for example.

Regardless of entrant category, however, if the pool has hidden obstructions or if it is not obvious that it is too shallow for diving and there is no warning with regard to these, then the owner may be held liable in case of injuries. In the case of large pools, especially those open for public use, failure to provide life guards or other means of adequate supervision can make the owner liable.

As explained by premises liability attorneys from the law firm Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, people who visit others’ properties should not have to worry about their health and safety. However, there are property owners and managers whose negligence often expose clients, residents, and other guests to unsafe situations that can lead to devastating injuries or illnesses. In order to discourage this irresponsible behavior, premises liability laws allow victims of dangerous properties to hold careless property owners and managers accountable for their damages. Seeking assistance from a highly-competent premises liability attorney to fight for the rights of an injured guest may be necessary, especially if the owner of the property where the injury was sustained is a government agency, such as in a public pool owned by a municipality. This is due to the doctrine of governmental immunity, which protects government agencies from lawsuits.

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