Swimming pools and injuries: Who is liable?

The answer often depends on the owner of the pool.

Swimming pools provide a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, a fun outing can quickly turn tragic. Patrons can slip and fall and suffer serious injury or a swimmer could find themselves struggling to stay afloat and become the victim of a tragic drowning accident. In both situations, families can find themselves asking who was responsible for the accident?

It is important for the victim of victim's family to hold the responsible party accountable for their wrongdoing for two key reasons. First, the lawsuit can push for change and deter others from making the same mistake. This can result in a safer environment for the entire neighborhood and surrounding areas. Second, the claim can result in a monetary award to help the victim and loved ones cover the expenses that come with the accident. This can include medical bills and lost wages as well as pain and suffering awards.

Determining who is responsible will depend on a number of factors. This piece will provide some information, breaking the conversation down into one of two routes based on who owned the pool.

Option #1: Public pool

Liability for accidents in public pools can be complex as a government entity is often at least partially responsible. This can mean a lawsuit would involve a government agency, such as the municipality or city. In order to move forward with a claim, the victim would likely need to file a notice of the lawsuit with the government. There are specific time limitations and filing requirements. A failure to follow these rules can result in the loss of the ability to move forward with the lawsuit.

Public pools may also have employees that are present to help better ensure the safety of swimmers. A failure to do so can result in liability.

Option #2: Private pool

Homeowners who have a pool within their yard are expected to ensure the pool is safe. This includes installing a fence to make sure children do not accidentally fall into the pool and make sure the pool is functioning properly. A faulty drain, for example, could result in a suction hazard that traps a swimmer under water and leads to serious injury or even death.

Private pool owners likely have insurance policies. Insurance providers may attempt to settle a claim with any injured party. Although a settlement can be the right avenue for the victim, it is wise to have legal counsel review the offer to better ensure a fair settlement.