Protecting Yourself from Swimming Pool Liability
It’s the dog days of summer. Across the state, adults and kids seek refuge from the heat in back yard pools. Though numerous Florida homes include a pool on the property, many homeowners do not fully understand the potential liability they face with pool ownership. If they neglect to properly protect visitors to the pool, even the uninvited ones, these homeowners may set themselves up for a financial catastrophe.
Drowning accidents are unfortunately common across the United States. To be sure:
- Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- Every day, an average of ten people die from an unintentional drowning;
- Twenty percent of drowning victims are children, 13 years old or younger;
- Children between the ages of one to four are at the greatest risk of a drowning fatality; and
- Five additional children visit the emergency room for drowning-related injuries for every one child who dies.
One factor that substantially contributes to elevated drowning rates is the inability to swim. Though individuals willingly go into pools, many of them do not possess basic skills to save their own lives in the water. For children under the age of four, the CDC asserts that swimming lessons are key to reducing the rate of drowning. Other contributing factors include inadequate supervision of young swimmer and the absence of barriers to keep children away from unattended pools. For adults, alcohol use leads to about 70 percent of swimming deaths.
Know the Law
Within the state of Florida, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to drowning accidents. In consideration of these statistics, lawmakers enacted the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act in an attempt to keep state residents safe. Under the statute, any pool constructed prior to October 1, 2000 must follow certain guidelines:
- Pools must possess an approved pool cover that meets mandatory safety features;
- All windows and doors with access to the pool area must include working exit alarms;
- All doors accessing the pool are must include safety latches; and
- The pool must be surrounded by a barrier that stands at least four feet high, with no ability for children to crawl under it.
Under the worst case scenario, injury and death can occur when homeowners fail to comply with the safety regulations. They may also face criminal charges from the state and financially liability. In most cases, the injured party will file a claim against the home insurance policy for payment of compensation. However, this remedy may prove futile if the homeowner failed to make their pool as safe as possible. Sometimes, the insurance company will conduct an investigation and deny payment of the claim based on the homeowner’s negligence. When this happens, the injured party must turn to the courts for financial compensation and the assistance of an experienced attorney is incredibly valuable.
If you or your child has been injured in a swimming pool related incident, put the skills of experienced trial attorneys to work for you. At Gary Roberts & Associates, P.A., our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers pride themselves on putting your interests first. Contact our office at 561-686-1800 for a consultation.