Although it is never a pleasant scenario to imagine, if you own a swimming pool, the question will inevitably arise at some point; what happens if someone drowns in the pool? Knowing your responsibility as a landlord and the facts about this issue can answer several important questions. Namely, are you financially covered in the event of accidental death?
Responsibility for public and private swimming pools
In public pools and private pools, the owner or operator of the pool is responsible for the safety of bathers. Examples of negligent behavior may include failure to ensure proper operation of equipment and failure to follow basic safety precautions. Owners and operators can also be held liable if they fail to recruit and train lifeguards properly.
Slip and fall injuries
Injuries such as slips and falls that occur on the premises may also constitute negligence on the part of the pool owner if a court determines that they were at fault and failed to maintain the facilities. Even to the point of providing adequate signage that urges people not to run or engage in horseplay around the pool.
Backyard pool owners can also be held liable in the event of an unforeseen injury or tragedy, such as accidental drowning. A lawyer would argue that the responsibility for dealing with any potential hazards in and around the pool lies with the owner.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has established guidelines to mitigate the risk of drowning. Some of these recommended security measures include:
- Have an adult supervising the pool area at all times when young children or inexperienced swimmers are present.
- Keep children and other vulnerable people out of areas of the pool where suction devices are present.
- Keep emergency supplies such as a first aid kit handy and easily accessible.
- Hiring a designated lifeguard for any event with a large number of people in the pool.
- Ensure that at least one person trained in CPR is present when needed.
- Prevent people who have consumed alcohol from swimming.
- Prevent swimmers from diving and engaging in dangerous horseplay with each other.
Many states also have laws regarding fencing, gates, and barriers that must be in place around the pool. Failure to install this required equipment in accordance with the state mandate could constitute negligence on the part of the owner and render him liable for damages.
Who else can be liable for damages?
Although each state’s laws differ, trade professionals such as pool service technicians and even pool builders can be held liable for accidental injury or death. In some cases, pool equipment suppliers and manufacturers may even be liable for damages.
Examples of Potential Liability
One scenario would be if there was a recall on an installed piece of equipment sold after the recall date, or if the electrical was incorrectly taped into the pool by the contractor. The potential for liability increases for those responsible for the maintenance and sanitization of pools under their management.
What Pool Owners Should Do to Protect Themselves
If you are building a swimming pool, liability insurance is a must, according to insurance experts. While most homeowners have minimum liability coverage of $100,000, some policies do not cover swimming pools. An accident could potentially make you liable for damages that exceed your minimum coverage.
Additional liability insurance
Many homeowners choose to purchase additional liability insurance to protect themselves in the unlikely event that legal action arises. While some umbrella liability insurance plans extend to the pool, others do not. In some cases, owners can choose to purchase an additional $1 million coverage that can cover slips and falls, injuries, and even drowning.
This type of safety net provides peace of mind that in the event of an accident, there is adequate insurance coverage for any potential lawsuits that may arise.
Do homeowners have to tell their insurance company that they are building a pool?
The short answer is yes”. Many homeowners may find it advisable to call their insurance agent before building a pool. Before embarking on any pool building project, it is always a good idea to know the your coverage amount, what your home insurance policy covers and potential gaps.
Swimming pools in general are considered isolated structures much like a shed. As such they are generally not covered by a general homeowners policy unless specifically added.
Building a swimming pool could increase your insurance
One unforeseen cost of building a swimming pool involves insurance. Some consumers may find that their current home insurance policy does not cover a swimming pool. Experts would say it’s safe to ask whether building a pool will increase the monthly premium price.
Be prepared to pay more for a diving board
Insurance professionals advise that building a pool that incorporates a feature such as a jumping rock or diving board can also increase rates or potentially prohibit your insurer from fully extending liability coverage on the pool. .
Rental property owners
Owners who rent out their property or swimming pool are advised to take out additional civil liability cover. In most cases, a standard home insurance policy does not cover rental situations. Popular rental platforms like VRBO, Airbnb, and Swimply offer up to an additional $1 million in coverage, but purchasing your own independent additional coverage may ultimately be the best protection for those who rent out their backyards.
What happens if someone drowns and you are sued?
All new pools in California must meet the requirements of the Swimming Pool Safety Act, which are outlined in sections 115920-115929 of the California Health and Safety Code. Among other things, the law requires that access gates in backyard pool enclosures be at least 60 inches long, self-closing, and have an automatic locking device at least 60 inches above the ground.
A famous pool liability case
Former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and his wife, actress Pamela Anderson, were sued for $10 million in 2001 after a four-year-old child drowned in their swimming pool at a birthday party. anniversary. The toddler had been left unaccompanied “for a minute,” according to Lee. Although a jury ultimately found that Lee and Anderson were not negligent, the couple was still subject to a great deal of agony as well as significant legal expenses.
Top tip for preventing liability:
- Allow guests to enter the pool only when supervised by a responsible adult.
- Do not leave floats and toys in the pool that could attract young children.
- When adult guests come to visit, make sure they are responsible for supervising their children.
- Do not allow intoxicated adults or their children to swim in the pool.
- Consider leaving a diving board out of your pool layout.
- Maintain a home insurance policy with at least $1,000,000 of liability coverage for pool-related injuries.
- Surround the pool with the appropriate size pool fence.
- Install gates that are self-locking and at least 60 inches high.
- When not in use, the pool should ideally be securely covered.
- Make sure everyone in the house knows how to swim.
- Pool owners should be familiar with basic first aid and rescue techniques.
- Keep enough pool safety equipment (not just flotation devices) around the pool.
- Consider adding a pool alarm to notify you when the water surface is interrupted.