Who Is Responsible if I Slip and Fall at a Public Pool?
Many people look forward to spending time with family and friends at a swimming pool to cool off and take a break from the summer heat. However, some people may not realize the dangers of pools. Whether it is public or privately owned, a swimming pool poses many threats. Slip and fall accident injuries are just one of several pool hazards. If you become injured at a swimming pool, you may wonder who is responsible for your slip and fall injuries.
Whether the pool is part of a private club, in a public area, or at a private residence, the pool’s owner can be liable for an injury. The rules of premises liability apply in these scenarios. The owner of the premises could be a municipality or government entity, a private owner, or a business.
Each property owner owes a duty of care to visitors, and the laws may vary depending on the state. The pool owner must make the pool reasonably safe for use. There are three categories of visitors:
- Trespassers: Under normal circumstances, an owner of a pool does not owe a trespasser a duty of care unless they mean to cause the trespasser harm. However, circumstances change if the trespasser is a child. For children and those who do not understand the dangers of a pool, a pool owner is responsible for preventing access to the pool by using methods such as a fence. This is referred to as the attractive nuisance doctrine, however, not all states follow it.
- Invitees: People who visit public pools such as those owned by a municipality or county are called invitees. Property owners owe a duty of care to invitees and must maintain the pool to be safe for use.
- Licensees: Guests at a private property using a pool area called licensees. The pool owner does owe a duty of care to licensees and must sufficiently warn their guests of the dangers of a pool that may not be obvious, such as clearly labeling what end is too shallow for diving.
What Causes of Slip and Fall Pool Accidents?
Every slip and fall accident is different. A pool owner is not automatically liable for an accident. However, some scenarios could hold the pool owner liable for an injury, such as poor pool maintenance. Poor pool maintenance includes:
- Cracked or broken pool ladders.
- Uneven surfaces on pool decks, walkways, etc.
- Tripping hazards.
- Spilled drinks or other slippery substances, like sunscreen lotions.
- Defective pool equipment.
- Lack of proper safety signs.
- Algae on the pool deck.
- Water accumulation on the pool deck, changing facilities, or restrooms.
- Slippery diving boards or stairs.
Other hazards that could cause a slip and fall include unhinged safety covers, broken or unsecured gates, or poorly constructed diving boards or slides. Even pool decks or pool equipment made of slippery materials can be hazardous. Lack of signage or warnings can also hold a pool owner liable for an accident, especially if they were aware of the lack of signage and did not respond reasonably.
Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injury, sometimes even death. Fractures, broken bones, muscle strains or sprains, and head injuries are common in slip and fall accidents. Someone who has suffered a head injury at a pool can drown if someone is not there to help immediately.
How Can Slip and Fall Pool Accidents Be Prevented?
Pool owners, whether a municipality or a private owner, must take care of their pool and surrounding areas and ensure that it is safe for use. Specific procedures need to be taken to keep guests safe from injury:
- Cleaning up high traffic areas and removing any debris or tripping hazard.
- Be sure to mop or dry areas where water accumulates.
- Provide and make visible proper safety signs in and around the area, emphasizing the use of caution, such as wet floor signs, no diving, or no running signs.
- For public pools, provide a custodial staff to maintain the safety of changing rooms or restrooms.
- Have safety equipment ready and available, such as floatation devices.
- Have non-slip surfaces or mats where wet conditions are frequent.
- Disinfect areas where algae is building up.
- Maintain walkways, decks, and flooring to prevent wear and tear.
Pool goers can do their part to keep themselves and others safe by following simple tips:
- Never run on any slippery or wet surface, pool deck, or around the pool area.
- Clean up spills and maintain a clean area free of debris or other tripping hazards.
- Do not swim alone unless there is a lifeguard on hand.
- Wear safe footwear when near the pool area, such as water shoes.
- Obey safety signs and lifeguard commands.
If a hazard becomes apparent, a pool owner must act quickly to remove it to prevent any injury. The property owners must provide a safe environment for whoever uses their pool.
If a property owner knew about hazards and failed to remove them before an injury occurred, they may be liable for injuries. If they failed to warn their guests through proper signage, they also might be liable should an injury occur. However, proving liability can be complicated if you have been injured in a slip and fall accident. You will need legal guidance from a lawyer and must act quickly.
Highland Park Slip and Fall Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clients Who Have Been Injured at Public Pools
You may be eligible for compensation if you have been injured in a slip and fall pool accident. Contact one of our Highland Park slip and fall lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr immediately. Call us at 732-537-8570 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly serve the communities of New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.