As temperatures rise and we get deeper into summer, more and more people will be jumping into swimming pools to cool off and have fun. Unfortunately, fun at the swimming pool can be quickly cut short when an accident occurs.
Sometimes these accidents could have avoided, which means the owner of the pool/property could be held liable for damages that resulted from the injuries. There may even be cases when a property owner bears liability for an injury to a child who was trespassing. That is because a swimming pool could be considered an attractive nuisance.
If you or your child was injured in a swimming pool accident, our licensed Harrisburg-based personal injury attorneys are here to discuss potential legal options. We have been helping injury victims throughout the state for more than 30 years and have obtained millions for our clients.
We know how difficult it can be to manage an injury caused by negligence. We are ready to be your guide through the complex legal process.
How People Can Get Injured at a Swimming Pool
While much attention is paid to drowning accidents for obvious reasons, there are many other types of accidents that can occur at swimming pools. Slip and fall accidents are common and the results can be much more severe than simply scrapes and minor bruises. Victims could suffer broken bones, brain injuries and even spinal cord injuries that result in some level of paralysis.
Slip and fall accidents could result from cracks or holes in the concrete around the pool. Children running on wet ground could also slip and fall.
There are many other ways swimming pool accidents could occur:
- If a diving board has a crack or is damaged in some other way, users could fall off it and suffer a severe injury.
- Drowning could result from clothing, hair, or limbs getting caught in a drain. When swimmers are pulled out of faulty drains, they may lose fingers or toes or suffer disembowelment.
- If the pool has lights in it and wiring gets damaged, those in the pool could be at risk for electric shock.
- If there is no lifeguard on duty or the lifeguard is not properly trained, he or she may be unable to prevent an accident or respond appropriately to reduce the risk of severe injury.
- Lack of emergency equipment could contribute to severe injuries. For example, a ring buoy could save someone’s life, but without it, it may be harder to prevent drowning.
- Rock faces, water falls or blind areas around a pool at someone’s home may look nice, but they could create unnecessary risks. Poorly designed swimming pools, or ones that violate building codes could contribute to dangerous accidents.
Assessing Liability for Swimming Pool Accidents
There are a variety of factors to consider when looking at liability for a swimming pool accident.
Liability for an Accident at a Public Pool
One of the central issues in a swimming pool accident claim is the legal status of the victim at the time of the accident. When you go to a public pool you are considered an invitee.
Property owners have a duty to take reasonable steps to make sure the pool is safe for invitees to use. They need to make sure the pool is well-maintained, and problems get fixed. If they cannot fix something, cordoning off the area may be considered reasonable. Property owners may be expected to inspect the pool to find potential problems that need to be addressed.
State law requires recreational swimming establishments to have an adequate number of certified lifeguards to protect swimmers.
State law also requires lifesaving equipment to be readily available, such as:
- First aid kit with 24 units
- One or more buoy, life jacket or flotation device
- One or more reaching device (pole, rope, etc.)
There are many other regulations about plumbing and electrical equipment in pools. They must be built according to code and properly maintained.
If you or your child suffer an injury at a public pool, the owner might be liable if you can establish the injury was the result of the owner’s negligence.
You would need to show he or she failed to take reasonable steps to prevent an accident. For example, maybe there was no lifeguard on duty, or the pool was in disrepair, and this contributed to an accident. The property owner may argue the danger was obvious, but without a sign warning about it, this argument may not hold up. If a situation was unreasonably dangerous, it should have been addressed by the owner.
A faulty drain may be an example of an unreasonably dangerous condition, but there are many others. It is important to review the situation with an experienced attorney.
Liability for an Accident at a Private Pool
Users of a private pool, such as one at someone’s house or in a neighborhood, are generally considered to be licensees. This means property owners have a duty to warn them about dangers that are not obvious. For example, if it is not obvious that a pool deck will be slippery, the property owner needs to inform swimmers of it. If the pool is shallow and that is not obvious, the owner needs to inform people before they use the pool.
It may be more difficult to hold homeowners liable for a pool accident because they do not have as high of a duty to prevent an injury. For example, homeowners may not be required to regularly inspect the pool to ensure it is safe, like property owners must do for invitees.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Swimming pool accident cases involving children may be affected by the attractive nuisance doctrine. An attractive nuisance is a man-made condition that may draw the attention of a child.
A pool can be considered an attractive nuisance because children may trespass to access it. Despite trespassing, the property owner may be liable for injuries to the child. There are several factors that need to be considered, such as:
- Whether it was easy to trespass
- Whether the child understood the risks of playing in the pool
- Whether an average property owner would realize the pool may attract and be a risk to children
- Whether the property owner took prompt action to eliminate risks to children
Pennsylvania law requires property owners to put fencing around outdoor pools, including hot tubs, spas and aboveground, in-ground or on-ground pools. The barrier must be at least six feet from the edge of the pool. This fencing could help prevent trespassing and potentially an injury. Failing to properly install fencing could open the property owner to liability if a child suffers an injury involving the pool.
Contact Schmidt Kramer to Discuss Potential Legal Action
Property owners do not always take the proper precautions with swimming pools, such as repairing cracked tiles or walkways or making sure lifeguards are on duty.
When failure to take reasonable steps to prevent an accident leads to an injury, the property owner may face financial liability. Our attorneys are here to help you consider your legal options. We may be able to secure compensation for medical expenses, including future medical expenses, along with other damages.
Have legal questions? Call Schmidt Kramer for assistance: (717) 510-1770.