Finally, summer is officially here! Thousands have opened their pools to enjoy a quick dip during the sweltering summer heat. With this added pleasure though, comes much responsibility. It is important to note that a pool is considered to be part of the property on which it sits. Therefore, responsibilities in properly maintaining the property are necessary to prevent injuries. Pool injuries fall under the law of premise liability.
Under the doctrine of premise liability, a property owner can be liable for any injuries that occur on the property as a result of a hazard. Property owners have an extended duty of care for invitees and licensees. For example, a licensee is a person who enters the property with permission of the owner but without a purpose of any economic benefit to the property owner (e.g. social guest). Pool owners are under a duty to warn licensees of dangers that are not obvious to the average person. An invitee is a person who comes on the property for an economic benefit (e.g. usually associated with any business establishment). In the case of invitees, a pool owner has a duty to do reasonable job maintenance, inspection, and repairs so that the invitee does not get injured.
Duty Owed to Trespasser
There is a different level of duty owed to trespasser, a person who enters the property without the owner’s permission. The duty owed is very low compared to licensees and invitees. A property owner does not have to get rid of dangerous conditions on his property in order to keep trespassers safe. However, property owners may not create dangerous conditions that didn’t exist before. Therefore, artificial, but not natural, conditions are problematic. Property owners are also not allowed to make an already dangerous condition worse.
Obvious dangers do not create liability. Obvious dangers may be slippery surfaces or dangers associated with diving in shallow areas. However, if it is not obvious that a pool is too shallow for diving, or if the pool has hidden obstructions, failing to warn invitees or licensees could make an owner liable.
Pool Safety Tips
The following are some steps property owners should take to prevent swimming pool accidents:
- Do not allow anyone to enter your pool unless a responsible and experienced swimmer is supervising the pool;
- Erect fences around your pool on all four sides, and use locks to keep out trespassers;
- Make sure that life-saving equipment is near the pool, but do not rely solely on life-saving equipment or warning signs;
- Do not leave toys in your pool or anything else that could further entice children to trespass/enter the pool;
- Keep intoxicated guests out of your pool;
- Purchase homeowner’s insurance that covers swimming pool injuries, and consider adding swimming pool accident liability coverage;
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments; and
- Always watch your children when they are in the water, even if they know how to swim. Do not drink alcohol if you are supervising young swimmers.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pool accident, contact the experienced team of attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC today for a free consultation. You can reach the office at 215-481-9979.