Generally, personal injury claims for swimming pool accidents can be brought against the pool owner, the pool manager, the maintenance company, or the pool equipment manufacturer. These types of suits are meant to recover compensation for the victim's medical expenses, reduced earning capacity or lost wages, or pain and suffering that directly resulted from the injury.
Swimming Pool-Related Injuries
There are several types of swimming pool-related injuries. Minor injuries include slipping on the diving board, breaking bones from falling into the pool or slipping on the steps, or scrapes from slipping and falling on the deck around the pool.
Unfortunately, many victims suffer much more severe injuries, like broken necks or near drownings that cause permanent injuries, such as brain damage. Further, many personal injury cases related to swimming pool injuries are for wrongful death claims made on behalf of an individual who drowned in the pool.
Private Pools vs. Public Pools
When it comes to personal injuries caused by swimming pools, whether the pool is public or private is important to note. Public swimming pools are usually located on public property and maintained by the local Department of Parks and Recreation. On the other hand, private swimming pools are located on private property and maintained by the property owners.
If an injury occurred in a private swimming pool, the suit would be filed against the pool owner. The claim will also be filed against the homeowner's insurance if they have a policy that covers accidents that occur in the swimming pool. These types of lawsuits will claim that the owner owed the pool users a duty of care to keep them safe while on their property but failed to do so.
But if the injury occurred in a public swimming pool, the claim will be filed against a public entity. These types of lawsuits are a bit more complex. These additional hoops and safeguards are in place because the potential reward is being funded by taxpayers. Public entity claims may also be subject to a limit on the amount of compensation a victim can receive, and much shorter time limits.
What Does California Say?
In California, property owners must keep their premises reasonably safe. If they do not and fail to warn others about the danger on their premises that might not be obvious, they may be liable for the injuries the victim sustains in, or near, the swimming pool. The duty of care extends to the following types of visitors, and the level of care depends on precisely what type of visitor it was:
- Invitees – people the owner has invited onto the property for the owner's financial benefit. For invitees, property owners are expected to look for dangerous conditions and make their invitees aware of them or fix them before their arrival.
- Licensees – people who have been given the express or implied consent of the owner to be on the property, but they are on the property for their own purposes. Owners must warn licensees of non-apparent dangers and cannot willfully cause them harm.
- Trespassers – people on the property without the owner's permission or invitation. Owners must not willfully cause harm to them.
To determine whether the premises were kept in a reasonably safe condition, the court will determine whether it was foreseeable that a visitor would be there. California courts will also examine whether there was a fence around the pool, a history of people getting access to the pool, if there were locks on any gates that gave access to the pool, and whether it was an in-ground or above-ground pool.
In Los Angeles, in particular, pools that are 18 inches or deeper and were built or remodeled after 2007, must be enclosed by a 4.5-foot fence. The fence has to surround the pool completely and include a self-latching mechanism to ensure it is constantly closed. So, if a swimming pool does not have these features, the owner is not only liable for the injury but also to the local government for fines or criminal charges.
You can learn more about the types of swimming pool accidents, injuries and remedies here.