Who Is Responsible If I Get Hurt at a Public Pool?
Since pools are considered to be part of property, whether public or private, the laws of premises liability govern if you are hurt while at a pool. This generally means whoever owns or is responsible for the property is liable. However, liability for injuries while on the property depends on the category of entrant the injured party is. Pool owners are under a general duty to make sure the pool and the surrounding grounds are reasonably safe for the pool’s anticipated use. If an individual is at the public pool to swim after paying a fee or no fee, he or she is considered an “invitee.” Pool owners owe the invitees a duty to do a reasonable job of maintaining and keeping the pool in good repair so that invitees are not injured. If someone is using a pool on private property, that person is normally classified as a “licensee.” The pool owner is under a duty to warn licensees of any dangers that would not otherwise be obvious to the average person.
What If Someone Is Injured While Trespassing on the Pool Property?
If the individual who is injured on the property was a trespasser, the pool owner does not owe him or her a duty of care other than keeping from intentionally causing the trespasser harm. The only caveat to this is if the trespasser is a child. Under the doctrine of attractive nuisance, the pool owner is under a duty to keep the pool safe from young children who may not adequately understand the dangers of drowning. This includes preventing access to the pool such as installing a fence around the perimeter of the pool.
What Are the Most Common Conditions that Lead to Pool Accidents?
Many different types of conditions and hazards can lead to an accident at the pool. Some of the more common hazards include the following:
- Slippery surfaces;
- Cracked pool deck;
- Lack of flotation devices or faulty devices;
- Broken diving surfaces;
- Damaged pool equipment;
- Faulty or broken drain covers or pipes;
- Objects left on the pool deck surface;
- Improper storage of pool chemicals;
- Negligent behavior of pool staff; or
- Unsecured pool facility.
What Liability do Pool Owners have when it comes to keeping the Pool Area Safe?
The pool owner’s liability can be ensuring that proper signage is up warning pool invitees or licensees of the dangers of running on slippery surfaces or diving in shallow water. The duty of care can also ensure that all drains are secured on the pool and that it is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure that nothing is broken. If a recall notice is sent to the pool owner regarding a part of the pool, the owner is under an obligation to ensure that the part is properly replaced and secured. Regular inspections should be a matter of routine for the pool owner with respect to all aspects of the pool, not just restricted to the pool structure itself. If chairs or tables are on the pool deck, the owner should also ensure that those are safe and up to code before others use them. Essentially, anything that a reasonable pool property owner should do or should know to do to keep the premises safe for those invited to the property is the standard of care courts hold property owners to. If the property owner fails to follow this duty, he or she is then liable for damages caused to another person invited on the property because of this breach of duty.
Does the Swimmer Hold Liability?
Rules for premises liability do not apply if the injured party was hurt because of his or her intentional or negligent behavior. If a sign warns of running on wet surfaces, and the injured individual runs on the wet surfaces in spite of this sign, one could argue that the pool property owner held up to his or her duty of care.
What is Dry Drowning?
Dry drowning occurs when an individual inhales water through his or her nose or mouth, and the water triggers a spasm in the person’s airway, causing it to close and impact breathing. The signs of dry drowning are noticed relatively quickly and should be treated immediately as soon as they are noticed.
How Is Dry Drowning Different From Secondary Drowning?
With dry drowning, the water never actually reaches the person’s lungs, but rather the water causes the individual’s airway to spasm and close up. The symptoms of dry drowning are noticed quickly since the throat closing up is an immediate reaction. However, many people will ignore these signs and assume that they are associated with some other issue.
Secondary drowning occurs when water gets into the lungs, irritating the lining, causing fluid to build up. This build up then leads to a condition known as pulmonary edema. The individual has difficulty breathing immediately, but many times, the other symptoms are not noticed until much later.
What Symptoms Should Be Monitored with Secondary Drowning or Dry Drowning?
Drowning symptoms tend to include a combination of the following:
- Difficulty breathing;
- Chest pain;
- Extreme fatigue;
- Noticeable change in energy levels or mood.
If your child has exhibited any of the following symptoms after swimming or playing in water, it is highly recommended that she or he be taken to a physician or the nearest emergency room immediately. When it comes to dry or secondary drowning, seconds count and exercising caution is always best.