Are You Liable for Injuries if Someone Dives into Your Pool?
To say that pools are popular in Tallahassee is an understatement. On hot, humid days, nothing is more enticing than the glistening, cool water that seems to invite you to dive right in.
Unfortunately, however, diving is not safe in most pools. If someone dives into a pool in an apartment, hotel, club or even private backyard, is the owner liable if they get hurt? A Tallahassee premises liability attorney knows that the answer depends on a number of circumstances. Read on to learn more about diving accidents and pool liability in Florida.
Overview of Liability for Diving Accidents
Before determining whether a pool owner is liable for diving accidents, a Tallahassee swimming pool accident attorney needs to review the facts and the applicable laws. General premises liability principles under Florida law will come into play.
Additionally, there are several issues unique to swimming pool cases and liability for diving accidents specifically. Finally, when diving injuries involve a child, a property owner faces additional grounds for liability in a personal injury lawsuit.
Responsibility for Diving Accidents
Diving is not safe in areas where the water is too shallow. It is not easy to gauge the depth of water, so the depth should be clearly marked at regular intervals. In many pools, the markings reflect the depth in the middle of the pool, but the pool slopes upward toward the edges, so the marking is not an accurate depiction of the depth near the edge. When someone dives from the edge of the pool, they are not aware that the depth is too shallow to make the dive safe, and they can suffer unexpected injuries.
The owner of a pool could be liable for injuries if the depth is not properly marked. Even more depth is required for dives off platforms and diving boards, so if the owner places a diving board or platform in an area without enough depth for the greater acceleration and length of these augmented dives, the owner could face substantial liability for diving injuries. The dangers of diving in shallow water are well known, so a Tallahassee premises liability attorney knows the owners of pools have no excuse for failing to take proper precautions.
What is Premises Liability?
Under general Florida liability law, the owner of property owes certain duties to keep people safe when they enter the property. Not surprisingly, the owner bears more responsibility when they invite someone onto the property than when someone enters as a trespasser. Even then, however, the property owner has certain obligations.
When a property owner fails to live up to their duty of care, such as failing to put up warning signs and barricades to keep shoppers in a store from slipping and falling on a freshly-polished wet floor, then the store owner or manager can be required to pay compensation to shoppers who are injured as a result.
Shoppers are presumed to be invited onto the property because their purchases benefit the owner of the store. Similarly, when a pool is open to the public, including hotel and apartment pools made available to guests and residents, the swimmers’ patronage benefits the property owners, so those owners are held to the highest standard of care and have a duty to keep those in and around the pool safe.
Those who own pools that are not open to the public also owe a duty of care to provide safe premises for the people they invite onto their property. In some cases, they are even required to take steps to protect trespassers as well.
What Happens if Someone Trespasses and is Injured Diving in Your Pool?
General premises liability standards require property owners to refrain from gross negligence toward anyone on the property, including trespassers. Is a shallow pool without a “no diving” sign a situation that could be considered gross negligence? It is possible, especially if there was a diving board and the pool was not fenced off to prevent unauthorized entry.
Most jurisdictions in the Tallahassee area have rules requiring adequate fencing around pools. A Tallahassee swimming pool accident attorney could use the failure to abide by those rules as grounds to justify liability for diving injuries to a trespasser. However, if the trespasser was drunk at the time, Florida law holds the property owner not liable for injuries suffered on the property.
If a child suffers injuries in a pool while trespassing, the doctrine of attractive nuisance could make the property owner liable for diving injuries even if the owner was not grossly negligent. This doctrine holds property owners accountable when they have a feature on their property that is inherently attractive to children, and pools certainly meet that criteria. Pool owners must take special care to keep children safe from risk when it comes to pools, and if they fail to do so, they can be held responsible for injuries.
Types of Injuries Suffered in Pool Diving Accidents
What does it mean to say that a property owner is liable for diving injuries in their pool? It means they can be required to pay for medical bills and other effects of injuries, such as lost wages due to time off work, pain, suffering, and other effects. If someone dies as a result of a diving injury, the owner could be responsible for a wrongful death claim.
Injuries common in diving accidents include:
- Brain damage
- Back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
In many cases, the injuries are catastrophic, resulting in life-long disability.
A Tallahassee Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Helps Diving Accident Victims Recover Compensation
Owning a pool comes with tremendous responsibilities. Those who fail to live up to those responsibilities can be held liable for the harm that results, including injuries suffered in diving accidents.
If you or a loved one were injured in a diving or other pool accident, talk to a skilled Tallahassee swimming pool accident attorney at Searcy Denney to learn how we could help you recover compensation to make up for your losses and help meet future needs. For a free consultation, contact us today.