Warmer temperatures allow Floridians and their families to hit the pool year-round. However, with greater access to pool related activities comes the rise in Florida pool injuries. Approximately 450 Floridians, many of whom are children, die each year from drowning. Additionally, approximately 300 more Floridians are hospitalized for non-fatal drownings and other pool related injuries. Yet, even more, are hospitalized for serious or fatal injuries relating to slip and falls and other types of poolside accidents. Due to the number of fatalities and injuries stemming from pool accidents, pool owners should take safety precautions to protect themselves, their families and their guests. Failure of pool owners to take precaution could result in liability on their behalf.
Florida premise liability controls the law surrounding Florida pool injuries in a personal injury lawsuit. These rules exist to determine who, if anyone, is responsible for when an injury occurs. Generally, pools are considered a part of the property that it is located on. Florida premise liability recognizes three categories of individuals who can be injured, namely, trespassers, licensees, and invitees. Each category is entitled to a different level of care by the pool owner. However, a pool owner owes a general duty of care to ensure that their pool is safe for its intended use. This includes, but is not limited to, preventing hazards, keeping up maintenance and repairs, warning pool goers of unanticipated hazards and preventing children from engaging in unsupervised pool use.
Private pool owners assume a duty of care to both their social guests, also known as licensees and to potential child trespassers. If the pool owner breaches a duty of care to either of these categories of individuals, the homeowner could be held liable for any damages. A private pool owner has the duty to warn licensees of any dangers that are not apparent to a reasonable person. For example, if the pool has a broken ladder the homeowner is responsible for notifying licensees of the damage and should take reasonable measures to fix it. Likewise, the owners of a private pool can be liable for injuries to children who are invited to use the pool if they are not properly supervised. Similarly, liability can arise if no barrier exists to prevent children from entering the pool area unsupervised.
Florida pool injuries involving trespassers is slightly different. In most situations, property owners are not liable for injuries involving trespassers. Under Florida law, however, the attractive nuisance doctrine requires pool owners to keep their pools inaccessible to young children. This is because most young children will be drawn to pools and are unable to understand the risks associated with pool injuries and drowning. Accordingly, the pool is considered an attractive nuisance and pool owners have an obligation to prevent children from accessing pool areas. Pool owners can prevent children from accessing pool areas with fences, safety gates, and alarms.
Wittmer|Linehan understands that pool related activities are a part of the Florida lifestyle. However, we have seen first-hand how inherently dangerous pools can be. Each year, our firm represents individuals who suffer as a result of Florida pool injuries. If you or a loved one are injured as a result of a swimming pool injury, contact our experienced attorneys at (941) 365-2296 to discuss your case.