Water Safety the Smart Way: Injuries and Liability
July 17, 2019 @ 10:30 am
What does weekend vacations mean to you? Although it may conjure up images of relaxation by the poolside or exciting voyages aboard your favorite recreational watercraft, these aren’t the only scenes you could potentially encounter when things start heating up — you could find yourself in a legal battle.
Are you responsible for every trespasser who takes an illicit dip in your pool or every passenger who comes along on your next fishing trip? While there are limits to your legal liability in different situations, it’s critical to play it safe. Here are a few smart tips on how to protect others and reduce your own liability while out on the water.
Understanding Summer Accident Liability
Different states have varied rules for deciding who’s at fault for harm that people sustain during potentially hazardous summer activities. Most, however, impose common-sense guidelines for establishing where responsibility lies after injuries.
Imagine that you owned a property with a nice backyard swimming pool. If your pool had no gate to prevent people from jumping in, then a young child might view the lack of security as a free invitation on a sweltering summer day. Even though you didn’t outright tell them to come on in and enjoy the water, the fact that you made little effort to prevent such a result could mean you’re liable.
What’s an Attractive Nuisance?
In the previous example, the unsecured swimming pool would be what legal experts refer to as an attractive nuisance, or a dangerous property condition that’s likely to attract minors. Since children aren’t old enough to be deemed fully responsible for their actions, the law says that property owners must step up to the plate — it’s your responsibility to ensure that human-made conditions don’t lure young people into harmful situations.
Being Smarter About Safety
Access control is a time-honored way to reduce your risk of being held liable for an attractive nuisance injury. For instance, you might get started by installing a gated, locked fence around your pool and installing permanent “no trespassing” signs. Other smart summertime precautions might include:
- Locking the keys to recreational watercraft safely away from use by minors, intoxicated adults and others
- Maintaining the proper licenses and training needed to operate your vehicles or facilities safely
- Providing your patrons with pool toys and equipment that passes safety checks — and isn’t defective
- Putting up high-visibility, multi-language warnings near hidden obstructions, shallow zones and other particularly hazardous spots on your property
Taking Precautions as a Business Owner
The burdens of avoiding premises liability can weigh even more heavily upon entrepreneurs and commercial site managers. For instance, if you were running a community pool, you’d need to have trained lifeguards on site. If you let your park guests rent things like paddle boats, jet skis or canoes, then you’d probably want to provide life jackets and other safety gear.
When Injuries Happen
It isn’t always possible to stop innocent summer fun from leading to tragic outcomes. At the same time, courts tend to recognize the difference between people who make honest attempts to keep others safe and those who simply neglect their duty.
Whether you’re the owner of a boat, pool or business, you have to take serious precautions when out on the water — both for your sake and the sake of others. On the other hand, if you are someone who feels you’ve been wronged by a negligent pool or watercraft owner, explore your legal options. If the owner truly did little to protect you or your loved ones from harm, you may have a solid case.
If you’d like to learn more about the law surrounding summer water accidents, contact our team at Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett & Haik.