What Can I Do if My Child Was Injured in a Public Pool?
Published in Pool Injury on April 20, 2017.
Pools are great places to cool off and relax during hot weather, but pool owners have a responsibility to their swimmers to ensure a safe environment. If your child suffers an injury in a public pool, the resulting lawsuit will typically fall under the purview of premises liability law. Property owners must ensure their premises pose no hazards to guests on the property, but it’s important to realize that pool owners are not always liable for every injury.
Understanding Premises Liability
Property owners must take precautions to ensure no harm comes to legal visitors on their grounds. It’s important to make the distinction between lawful visitors on a property and trespassers. Property owners have no legal obligation to ensure the safety of unlawful trespassers on their properties, except for children in the area.
Children are less cognizant of their actions than adults, so property owners must account for any children in the area who may interlope on their property. For example, neighborhood children may sneak into a neighbor’s pool while he or she is out of town. Since the neighbor should be aware of the children in the neighborhood, he or she should take precautions against a wandering child falling in and suffering an injury or drowning, since it is a known likelihood.
The law considers people who visit a property for business purposes, such as paying to swim in a public pool, “invitees.” Property owners must ensure the pool and the surrounding areas of the property are not hazardous to patrons.
Precautions for Public Pools
Public pool owners must properly maintain their pools to ensure they are safe for patrons. Additionally, since small children often visit public pools with their parents and families, extra precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of children too young to understand the danger of drowning. This could also extend to pool cleanliness and filtration. Allowing the pool’s filtration system to fall into disrepair could lead to illness among patrons.
Most pools have varying depths, and pool owners must mark the depth of their pools at regular intervals so guests can accurately determine how deep the water is. Additionally, pool owners should post rules for swimming, such as restricting diving in the shallow end and running around the edge of the pool.
Personal Liability and Negligence
Premises liability does not always apply to every public pool injury. If an injury happens due to intentional or negligent behavior, the injured party may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the offending party. Some examples could include intentionally jumping on top of another swimmer or pushing someone into the shallow end, causing an injury.
There are some similarities between personal injury lawsuits and premises liability lawsuits, however. For example, property owners have a duty to ensure their grounds are not hazardous to visitors. They must make every effort to fix structural hazards or at least properly mark such hazards with visible warning signs to prevent injuries to guests on the property. In personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff must prove the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care and failed to do so, resulting in injury to the plaintiff.
If a property owner such as a public pool owner is found negligent in his or her maintenance of the pool and grounds, did not provide proper safety instructions and warning signs, or was otherwise negligent in his or her handling of the pool, he or she will be liable for any resulting injuries. Pool injuries could include broken bones, traumatic brain, neck, or spinal injuries from diving into shallow water, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, drowning, and slip and fall injuries. Public pool injury lawsuits can quickly grow into complex legal battles, so experienced legal counsel will be necessary for winning a case.