Summer and swimming pools go hand-in-hand -- who doesn’t want to beat the heat with a dip in a cool pool? While summer can be full of fun and play, unfortunately, accidents at a pool do happen. Drowning and water accidents are common in pools but so are slip and fall accidents. Under premises liability law, property owners or managers can be held liable when a person is injured in a slip and fall accident around a swimming pool.
What Does Premises Liability Mean?
Property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a safe manner and can be liable for damages if accidents or injuries happen on their premises or property. When a person is injured on someone else’s property and that injury is caused by the owner’s negligence, the victim can file a personal injury claim and seek compensation. This type of claim typically includes compensatory damages like the cost of medical treatment, lost income and pain and suffering due to the injuries.
Property owners and managers of pools include private homeowners, swim clubs, country clubs, hotels and apartment complexes. Premises liability law assumes that the entity that owns or is responsible for the safety around the pool is keeping it free from hazards and/or warning those around the pool about conditions that could cause injury.
Liability Depends On Why You Were on the Property
In legal terms, property owners have a ‘duty of care’ to go to maintain and ensure a safe environment for anyone on that property. In New Jersey, the level of care a property owner must exhibit depends on the reason why the visitor was on the property. Under New Jersey law, there are three different types of visitors:
Trespassers, or anyone on the property without permission. A property owner has little duty of care to warn trespassers about hazards or any duty of care. The exception to this are children who access the pool if the area is not secure.
Licensees have permission to be on the property, like party or family guests. Property owners have a legal duty to warn them of any dangerous conditions on the property that the owner knows of, and which the licensee is unlikely to notice. Safety warnings and fencing around swimming pools are an example of the duty of care expected around a dangerous condition.
Invitees, people who are on the property because it is a public pool or a pool that is part of a business. For instance, a resident at an apartment complex who slips and falls around wet concrete near the pool or someone at a public neighborhood or community pool. Property owners owe the highest level of care to invitees and must warn all visitors of known hazards and dangers and must reasonably inspect for any hazards and dangers.
Examples of Negligence in Swimming Pool Slip and Fall Accidents
Because swimming pools can be dangerous, there are several ways property owners are reasonably expected to maintain the pool and the area around it. The following are some examples of steps property owners can take to mitigate the risk of injury:
- Fencing. A minimum of a 4-foot fence around any pool is very important for proper maintenance and security. Even with a shallow pool, there should be at least a four-foot fence because small children can drown in very shallow areas.
- Gates. Gates around the pool should be self-latching or self-closing to prevent children from being able to enter.
- Prevent slippery surfaces. Concrete, stone, and decking around the pool should have texture for improved traction. Property owners should also warn those around the pool about potentially slippery areas.
- Repair jagged concrete.
- Maintain equipment. Pool pipes, pool ladders and steps should all be secured to prevent any accidents.
How Does a Lawsuit Work After a Swimming Pool Slip and Fall Accident?
If you or a family member were injured in a swimming pool slip and fall accident, you should first discuss your case with a premises liability lawyer. Their expertise and experience is a great benefit when going through the legal claim process. In cases of serious injury or death, an attorney will gather evidence and bring in experts who will build a case to prove liability and the extent of your injuries.
Determining liability in a slip and fall accident can be complex. In some cases, the property owner may be different than the property manager. And proving the elements of a premises liability case often takes the expertise of an experienced lawyer.
If successful, compensation in a slip and fall lawsuit could include medical expenses, lost income, as well as intangible losses like pain and suffering. If the medical prognosis includes long term treatment, compensation should account for the entire course of the injury.
Brandon J. Broderick, Compassionate and Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
If you’re dealing with the devastating consequences of a swimming pool slip and fall accident, we can help. Our compassionate, experienced personal injury attorneys are focused on exceptional client care and aggressive litigation of your claim. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Many of our clients experience a sense of relief once they make that first phone call.