As Florida temperatures begin their annual increase with the arrival of summer, residents and visitors alike are drawn to the numerous swimming pools dotting the landscape. However, with this refreshing respite from the heat comes an increased risk of accidents. If such a misfortune were to occur, who would be accountable? This question is particularly crucial when an incident results in injuries severe enough to contemplate a lawsuit.
In Florida, swimming pool mishaps are classified under premises liability. Essentially, this infers that the pool owner — be it an individual or a corporate entity — can be held accountable for fatalities or injuries if negligence is a contributing factor.
Here’s an essential guide on pool safety, what you should understand about accidents in Florida and how to evaluate if negligence played a role.
Visitor Status: Who Are You In The Eyes Of The Law?
In Florida a property owner or a tenant is obligated to maintain their premises in a condition that is reasonably free from hazards. Negligence in upkeep could lead to liability if a visitor suffers an injury.
Properties featuring pools have what is termed as a ‘duty of care’ towards all potential users, including those who might trespass. Property owners housing a pool are expected to take precautionary measures to avert accidents and injuries.
The extent of this duty of care hinges upon the visitor’s legal status, which is categorized into three tiers:
- Invitees: These individuals are lawfully present to use the pool on the property. Owners are tasked with maintaining and inspecting the pool for any hazards that could precipitate an accident.
- Trespassers: These individuals do not have legal permission to be on the property. Nevertheless, a duty of care still exists, especially if the trespasser is a minor, owing to the concept of an ‘attractive nuisance’ that a pool presents.
- Licensees: These are guests invited onto private property by the owner. Private pool owners are responsible for alerting guests of any potentially dangerous conditions, regardless of how obvious these hazards might appear.
Filing a Lawsuit: How and When?
Your ability to file a lawsuit is contingent upon your status at the time of the accident and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Typically, a property owner can be held liable for injuries sustained if the victim can demonstrate the existence of these elements:
- The property owner owed a duty of care.
- There was a breach of that duty of care.
- The injury was a direct consequence of that breach.
- Damages were suffered as a result.
Potential defendants could be the pool’s owner, a governing body owning the pool property, or a private homeowner for residential swimming pools. Additionally, if a known defect in the pool led to an injury, the pool’s manufacturer could be held responsible.
Protective Measures: The Way Forward
Owning a pool, even within the confines of your private residence, comes with a responsibility to minimize accidents. It’s an investment well worth making to ensure that you have adequate pool barriers, well-maintained pool decks, safe swimming conditions, operational equipment, and proper supervision at the pool.
If you or a loved one has been injured at a pool and need help seeking compensation, contact our office today for a free consultation. We are dedicated to supporting you in your pursuit of justice, and we don’t get paid to lose. Visit our website or call 863-709-8500 to contact us today.