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Swimming Pool Liability Questions
Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC
When can a pool owner be held liable for drowning accidents?
A pool owner can be held liable for drowning accidents when the drowning was the consequence of carelessness by the pool owner. The pool owner can also be held liable when the drowning was the consequence of a situation caused by the pool owner, known to the pool owner, or that could reasonably be expected to be known by the pool owner.
Who else can be held liable for drowning accidents?
In some cases, the pool manufacturer, the pool manager or supervisor, and/or people responsible for pool maintenance may be liable for damages following a drowning accident.
What are some situations in which a pool owner may be liable in a drowning accident?
A swimming pool owner may be liable in drowning accidents that are the result of:
- Poorly supervised pools
- Risky behavior encouraged by the pool owner
- Defective pools
- Poorly maintained pools
How can a defective pool lead to drowning?
A common way that a defective pool can lead to drowning is when the swimming pool drain creates suction that draws swimmers to the bottom and holds them there. In addition, a pool may not have clearly marked depths, causing people to dive into shallow water, one of the leading causes of spinal injury, or jump into water too deep for their skill level.
What pool maintenance is crucial to preventing drowning accidents?
To prevent drowning accidents, the surface around the pool must be level, have a non-slip texture, be free of heaves, buckles, cracks, and tears. Water should not be allowed to puddle around the pool to create a slipping hazard. Safety equipment must be in its place, be in good working order, and be highly visible. Pool covers must be completely removed when people are swimming and the pool should be free of obstructions like pool cleaning equipment.
Fences around a pool must also be well-maintained to prevent neighborhood children from using the pool unsupervised.
When should a lifeguard be on duty at a pool?
All public or semi-public pools should always have a lifeguard on duty.
What qualifications should a lifeguard have?
A lifeguard should be certified, capable of retrieving a drowning victim, and performing first aid. The lifeguard should be capable of doing this with any victim.
A lifeguard must be capable of maintaining focus on swimmers without becoming distracted. A pool that relies on teens over summer break for lifeguard duty must be careful to select teens who are qualified and certified lifeguards. Pools with a large number of swimmers or that are very large should employ multiple lifeguards to ensure proper supervision of the pool.
What encouragement of risky behavior might make a pool owner liable for a drowning accident?
There are many risky behaviors that pool owners encourage but could lead to drowning accidents. A pool owner may start or encourage a game of tag around the pool. A pool owner can model dangerous behaviors like flipping or diving into a shallow pool. A pool owner can also throw poolside parties with a large supply of alcohol, or with many kids but little supervision.
If you or a loved one suffered injury at a swimming pool as a result of the pool owner or operator's negligence, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or wrongful death. Please call or email the Washington, DC swimming pool liability lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. to learn more about your rights.