Swimming pools are an attractive feature that add value to a Florida home and may make it the place where neighborhood kids want to hang out. But property owners with a swimming pool must take care to make sure the pool is secure and complies with Florida laws. A swimming pool owner must exercise reasonable care when it comes to preventing foreseeable pool accidents. If someone is injured or dies in a swimming pool accident, the owner may be held responsible in some circumstances.
Florida sees a high number of accidental drownings in swimming pools. Many accidents are the result of improper signage, lack of supervision, failure to install barriers, and other safety concerns. Premises liability cases involving pools require a careful analysis of the facts and circumstances to determine responsibility for an accident. Ultimately, the owner of the property or the neighborhood’s Homeowners’ Association (HOA) may be held responsible for medical bills, pain and suffering, and possibly even wrongful death following a serious accident.
What is the Pool Owner’s Responsibility?
The liability of a property owner after a pool accident depends in part on the legal status of the person who was injured or drowned. Was the person who was involved in a pool accident an invited guest, a member of a community pool or a trespasser who did not have permission to be at the property?
Florida law generally groups people into several broad categories for the purposes of determining a property owner’s legal responsibility. The categories include:
Invitees: A patron at a public pool or public park is a public invitee. Invitees generally include friends, relatives and customers at businesses. Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep property in reasonably safe condition and to warn invitees of known hazards on the property. They also need to be cautioned against dangers like slick surfaces or diving in the shallow areas of a pool. If someone who is hurt at a swimming pool was not adequately warned of specific dangers, the pool owner might be held responsible. Patrons at a public pool are considered to be public invitees.
Licensees: Someone who has consent to be on private property, such as a social guest, is considered to be a licensee. This consent can be given verbally or in writing. Consent may also be implied, if the owner doesn’t object to the person entering his or her property. Both hotel patrons using a hotel pool and guests swimming at a private residence are considered licensees. If you invite the neighbors to use the pool whenever they wish, they may be viewed by the law as licensees even if no specific invitation was issued on the day the accident occurred. Pool owners have a responsibility to licensees and need to warn them of known hazards, especially when it comes to swimming pools.
Trespassers: Any person who does not have permission to be on the property is a trespasser. Owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers, except in limited circumstances involving children. Florida property owners have a responsibility to keep their pools and surrounding premises reasonably safe and secure from trespassing children.
When it comes to a public pool, a person who visits the pool to swim may be a public invitee.
Making a determination of whether a pool owner has legal liability after a swimming accident can be complicated. It requires an attorney who is experienced in handling Florida premises liability cases.
What is an “Attractive Nuisance?”
Swimming pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” under the law. Pools are likely to attract young children who do not recognize the drowning danger presented by the pool. According to the USA Swimming Association, Florida led the nation with 51 fatal child drownings in pools and spas in 2017.
The law places a special responsibility on property owners to take specific steps to secure pools and prevent unsupervised access by children, including children who wander onto the property uninvited. Pool owners must exercise extreme care when maintaining their property to make sure that children are safe at all times.
If a child’s curiosity leads to injury in or around a swimming pool, the property owner may be held responsible for the injury or drowning.
A law passed by the Florida legislature, the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, requires that all new swimming pools and hot tubs should be equipped with at least one of the following security features: an approved pool cover, an enclosure around the pool, a secure gate to keep a child from gaining access, exit alarms on doors and windows opening onto the pool,
A property owner who fails to equip a new residential pool with a required safety feature may be charged with a misdemeanor and may be held responsible for injuries as a result of the lack of safety features.
When is an HOA Responsible in Florida?
A community pool is owned by the homeowner’s association (HOA). Since the homeowners do not legally possess the pool, community swimming pools are a huge liability for HOAs as the proprietor and caretaker of the premises.
HOAs may be held accountable for injuries like slips and falls, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, water inhalation, and drowning caused by negligent or reckless maintenance of the premises.
Examples of negligent acts by an HOA at a pool include:
- Defective gates or locks on the barriers surrounding the pool;
- Unreasonably slippery or broken paving on flooring;
- Lack of notice of hazardous conditions around the pool area;
- Inadequate adult supervision; and
- The lack of other safety measures required by law.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drownings are a leading cause of injury and death for young children ages 1 to 14. However, drowning is certainly not the only injury swimmers—and parents of swimmers—need to be mindful of while at the pool.
Inadequately maintained swimming pools could lead to other severe health hazards since many diseases may be transmitted in community or public swimming pools.
Contact with contaminated swimming pool water can cause health problems like gastrointestinal illness, skin, ear, or eye infections, and respiratory diseases. HOA’s failing to ensure appropriate chemical levels are maintained in their pools are liable for injuries caused by recreational water illnesses resulting from negligent water treatment.
Consult a Palm Coast Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer Today
Have you or someone you love been hurt in a swimming pool accident? The Palm Coast swimming pool accident attorneys of Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant are here to help you get the compensation you are owed if you were harmed by the negligent actions of a property owner or HOA.
Our attorneys have extensive experience helping swimming pool accident victims and their families pursue compensation after preventable pool injuries. No amount of compensation will make up for the loss of a loved one in a pool accident. But a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit can focus attention on a safety problem and prevent others from drowning or being injured. Our legal team can help you pursue compensation for your loved one’s injury or death, even if you have already reported a swimming pool accident to the HOA’s insurance company.
For a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, contact an experienced member of our legal team at (386)237-6899, fill out a contact form, or chat with us live on our website today. We have been helping accident victims like you since 1973, and we’re ready to help you seek justice.