As the summer heats up, you might find yourself splashing around in a backyard swimming pool, but make sure that this fun way to beat the heat doesn’t leave you cold!
While swimming pools are a world of fun, they are also a danger. In addition to the general dangers and risk of drowning that is associated with swimming, legally, pools are known as “attractive nuisances,” and can leave you open to premises liability and personal injury claims. If you are a pool owner, be it above ground, in-ground, or even a kid’s paddling pool, thinking about the safety of those around your property this summer is key to avoiding and reducing liability.
What is an Attractive Nuisance?
“Attractive Nuisance” is the legal name given to certain things found on private property that might lead a local child to trespass because they are so “attractive” to little ones. These can include any number of things: playsets, rock piles for landscaping, construction projects, fountains, and swimming pools. Typically, child trespassers are treated differently than adults, and so a property owner can be held legally liable for any harm that comes to a trespassing child on their property. Taking extra precautions to shield attractive nuisances on your property can help protect you from liability should an emergency arise.
How could I be liable?
As a pool owner, you are legally responsible for making sure that your pool is safe for those that may use it, and you have a duty of reasonable care to deter those around your property from trespassing. There are a number of common injuries that arise from pool use to be aware of including slip and fall injuries, drowning, electrocution, and broken bones. Even in cases where the injured person was not invited to swim in your pool, you can be liable if:
- You owed a duty of reasonable care.
- You breached that duty via carelessness.
- An injury occurs.
- The injury is a result of the breach of duty.
How to prevent liability:
Often, the laws that govern private pools come from the state and local levels, so make sure to check out your local guidelines. In the meantime, here are some good rules of thumb for reducing your liability and keeping guests and others safe around your pool this summer:
- Be sure to check your local laws about safety and sanitation for swimming pools.
- Make sure your pool is fenced in with a fence at least 4 feet tall.
- Consider installing a locking or self-latching gate around your pool area.
- Cover your pool with a safety cover when not in use.
- Remove all pool toys when not in use.