Swimming Pool Accidents: Who is Liable?
Summertime is filled with fun activities outdoors with family and friends. Among the most popular ways to enjoy a sunny, warm day is by barbecuing and hanging out poolside. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but swimming pool owners must be diligent when choosing to invite others to stop by for a swim. The risk of potential liability for swimming pool accidents that cause injury or death is high. That does not mean pool owners automatically assume responsibility when a guest is injured in or around their pools. It pays to know the dangers before opening your backyard oasis to others.
Do swimming pool accidents fall under premises liability?
Swimming pools are considered a part of the property on which they are located. New Mexico premises liability laws apply to any accident or injury involving a swimming pool for this reason. Premises liability is the legal terminology that refers to a property owner’s responsibility to maintain reasonable safety of their property and everything on it for visitors.
Are swimming pools an “attractive nuisance?”
Many states, including New Mexico, have what is known as an “attractive nuisance doctrine.” It applies to children who trespass on your property because they are enticed by something they see and want to explore. Swimming pools and Jacuzzis are two of the most common attractive nuisances to children, who can suffer serious injury and even death while using them without adult supervision.
Unfortunately, it does not matter whether the child who is injured in your swimming pool is a guest or is using your pool without authorization. Premises liability depends on proving negligence. For instance, if you do not have your pool gated, and a child decides to take a dip while you are not home and is injured, you could be liable for failing to secure your pool even though you did not invite the child to use your pool.
What are some common swimming pool accident injuries?
Swimming pools can be a lot of fun. They also can cause serious injury if people are careless around them. For instance, if the area around your pool is wet, it can become a slipping hazard for guests. Diving boards and flotation devices are other sources of accidents in pools. Even the pool wall can injure swimmers who are unaware they are too close to it when swimming and collide with it.
Here are some of the most common injuries that happen in swimming pools:
- Abrasions and cuts
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
Pool owners can only do so much to prevent swimming pool accidents and the resulting injuries. Properly securing your pool when not in use, updating and repairing it when needed, and supervising guests are the best ways to avoid negligence and premise liability lawsuits.
How do you know if you are liable for a swimming pool accident?
New Mexico law requires those injured while using someone else’s swimming pool to prove several critical facts before they can file a premises liability personal injury lawsuit. They must show that:
- The owner failed to fulfill their duty of care at their pool.
- The owner breached their duty of care through careless action or inaction (such as failing to secure the pool from uninvited guests).
- The injury suffered was directly related to the pool owner’s breach of duty of care.
- The injured party suffered damages.
Making sure you are present any time someone is using your pool is important for preventing accidents and avoiding liability for injuries. It is your responsibility to ensure all guests use the pool safely and appropriately and to ask anyone who cannot follow the rules to exit the pool immediately.
Does homeowners’ insurance cover swimming pool accidents?
Homeowners’ insurance coverage for pools generally covers damage to the pool and liability issues. While it is nice to have coverage for repairs, all swimming pool owners must secure liability insurance coverage. Most homeowners’ insurance policies include liability coverage for pool-related accidents. However, we advise increasing your liability limit up to $500,000 if possible.
Pool owners also can purchase a separate umbrella policy if their insurance provider offers that option. Sometimes referred to as “excess liability policies,” umbrella coverage includes liability limits of $1 million, $2 million, or more and is inexpensive compared with footing the bill for injuries sustained in swimming pool accidents out of your pocket.
What to do if you are injured in a swimming pool accident
What happens if you are the person injured in a swimming pool accident through no fault of your own? Consulting with a personal injury lawyer experienced in premises liability law in New Mexico is your best bet for protecting your rights and securing fair compensation for your injuries. Bill Russell is deeply dedicated to representing victims and their families. Contact our offices today to schedule a hassle-free consultation to review your case.