Whether it is alone, as a couple or with a group, it seems everyone cannot wait to get in the water. But, as much fun as aquatic activities are, they also include danger.
— Potential Swimming Dangers —
• Fatal Drowning:
– An average of 390 people die annually from swimming pool or spa drownings
– The number one cause of accidental death for children under age five is drowning
– Sixty-seven percent of swimming pool drownings involved children under three years old
– Seventy-five percent of drownings involving children under the age of 15 occur at residential swimming pools
• Nonfatal Drowning (Near Drowning Submersion Incidents):
– More than 5,000 pool and spa related submersion incidents require hospital emergency medical treatment annually
– More than 60 percent of near drowning incidents involve children under the age of four
– Most nonfatal drownings occur in residential swimming pools
• Injuries (Non-submersion Incidents):
– Broken bones, scrapes and bruises from slip and fall accidents
– Strangulation from pool cleaning equipment
– Electrocution by old pool lights or faulty equipment
– Injuries or death caused from being trapped by pool suction
— Liability – Who is Responsible for a Pool Accident —
It is your pool, and if your guests are injured, you may be liable. Another possible liability are trespassers, especially teenagers involved in pool hopping. Teens go to houses during the day when they think no one is home or at night when the residents are asleep. They hop in, hop out and move on to the next pool. Other trespassers may be neighbors who enjoy your hot tub while you are away or small children in the neighborhood who just really want to go swimming.
Clearly, the people who enter your property without your permission are trespassers who have no legal right to be in your pool or hot tub. If they are injured, you are usually not liable. If you are liable for a trespasser or an invited guest who is injured on your property, it could be a financially devastating situation that requires you to hire an attorney
— Trespassing and Attractive Nuisances —
Many states where pools are extremely common have criminal trespassing laws to protect property owners. These rules are known as attractive nuisance doctrine guidelines, which create a loophole for trespassers. Fortunately for homeowners, this only applies to young children.
If you have something on your property that is so attractive to young children that they cannot resist, like a swimming pool, you have an attractive nuisance. By law, you must take extra precautions to protect children from harm if they are near, on or in the attractive nuisance. If you do not, you are likely liable when those children are injured.
— Pool and Spa Safety —
Whether a person is an invited guest or a trespasser, it is important to make sure your pool and spa and the surrounding areas are safe. Summer fun does not have to be ruined by potential hazards or dangers. Taking safety precautions protects everyone from injury or death, including you, and it protects you from legal liability.
Pool and Spa Safety Tips
– Install a fence around the pool or entire yard and make sure it is high enough to keep people out.
– If fencing is already in place, thoroughly examine it for holes, spaces or weak areas that someone can get through.
– Make sure your fence has a gate or door with a lock or latch.
– Place the lock or latch high enough to be out of reach of small children.
– Make sure the lock or latch has a self-locking mechanism.
Alarms– Install an alarm on the pool and spa door or gate that is loud enough to be heard inside the house.
Surfaces and Objects
– Make sure surfaces around the pool and spa are worn or slippery.
– Make sure surface edges inside the pool and spa are not rough enough to cause injury.
– Keep pool toys and other objects out of walkways to prevent someone tripping over them.
– Put away pool toys when not in use so young children are not tempted by seeing them.
Have regular pool inspections by a qualified inspector.
Consider installing a pool net or cover.
Place no trespassing signs on the outside of your pool fence.
— Human Safety Tips —
- Make sure someone in the household knows CPR
- Make sure everyone in the household can swim
- Only allow children to swim under adult supervision
- Require adult guests to supervise their own children
- Do not allow intoxicated people to swim in your pool
- Talk to neighborhood children about pool safety
No matter how it happens, if someone is injured or dies while using your pool or spa, prepare yourself for potential legal complications. Even if you have an insurance policy that covers these types of incidents, you will most likely need a personal injury lawyer experienced in aquatic accidents to help you understand your legal liability and responsibility. While no one wants a pool or spa accident, it is best to be prepared if one happens.