Premise Liability Laws and Swimming Pools
The good news according to the CDC is that accidental drownings by children aged 14 and under are trending down. Between 2005 and 2014, the problem was more considerable, and the CDC reported more than 3,500 accidental deaths on average each year. Still, injuries are prevalent, and the CDC warns that for every child who drowns, five others require emergency room care.
The Risks Associated With Swimming Pools
Drowning is the most obvious risk associated with both public and private swimming pools, but as mentioned before, non-lethal but serious injuries are actually more prevalent. This is true not only for children aged 14 and under but also teens and adults. Slippery surfaces are a leading cause of pool-related accidents. The constant presence of water often makes otherwise safe surfaces slick, and wetness can exacerbate already slippery planes. Although an area around a pool will naturally be wet, pool owners generally have a responsibility to maintain slip-resistant surfaces. If they fail to do so, slips and falls can occur and, in addition to death, can result in:
- Head injuries
- Back injuries
- Joint problems
- Dental damages
- Bone fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
Who Is Responsible in the Event of an Injury?
Ownership doesn’t necessarily make one responsible for injuries that occur in a pool or poolside. It often depends on the status of the person who was injured. As a homeowner, for instance, you have greater responsibilities to the person you invite to your pool than the adult who enjoys your pool without permission. The use of the term adult is important here because the law deems that you have greater responsibility to an underage person who uses your pool without permission. The statuses that a judge will likely consider include the following:
- Guests are invited.
- Licensees have some consent to use the pool.
- Trespassers do not have permission.
- Underage trespassers lack protection but may be protected.
What Responsibilities Does a Pool Owner Have?
Legal responsibilities vary not just on a state-by-state basis but within the state due to, for instance, the regulations of local jurisdictions and even rules imposed by homeowner associations. A pool owner is generally required to maintain a safe area, which often includes adequate fencing. Additionally, the onus is on the owner to warn invitees and licensees of any non-obvious risks. An example of a non-obvious risk is a pool slide that is not properly secured and thus should not be used.
Public vs. Private Pools
Again, this depends heavily on the local jurisdiction and not just the state, but there are often legal differences between public and private pools. There are often different regulations that apply to residential pools, commercial pools and community pools. Note that most owners of commercial and community pools do carry dedicated insurance for this very purpose. While many homeowners do not, it is available and can provide great peace of mind should an injury occur.
What Damages Are Available?
If a pool owner is deemed liable for an injury that occurs, then the injured party will generally be entitled to compensation for the damages incurred. Damages are generally contained to compensatory damages, which are also known as actual damages. Punitive damages are possible but uncommon in such scenarios since they are usually reserved as a means to punish a person or group for reckless or negligent actions. The actual damages for which you can receive compensation include:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitative expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
Get Legal Assistance Today
Have you or someone you love been injured at a public or private swimming pool? Let us help determine if someone is liable and you deserve compensation for damages. Our focus is on personal injury law in New Jersey, and we have helped many clients through local representation. Initial consultations are provided at no cost and without obligation, so contact us online, or call our office in Parsippany at (973) 585-6982.