In the past few weeks, four people have died in swimming pool accidents in Massachusetts – three children and a 36 year-old woman (the woman was found in a state-operated swimming pool, apparently several days after she died.) The Boston Globe and other media have covered these stories extensively. These unfortunate events illustrate the inherent risks that are associated with swimming pools – an area of law known as “premises liability.” Whether the pool is an in-ground pool or an above-ground portable pool, as a Boston/Dedham Massachusetts injury lawyer, I can assure you they are dangerous.
Whether in-ground or above-ground, the following safety and liability prevention measures should be taken by all property owners who have a swimming pool:
• The pool should be surrounded by a barrier such as a fence, at least four feet high, equipped with an alarm that would signal if someone is in or near the pool.
• The fence must be of sound construction, so that young children cannot get through a hole or other spaces in it.
• If the pool is in-ground, it should have working underwater lights, built into the pool walls.
• At all times when someone is in the pool, especially children, the property owners should make sure that a designated “water-watcher” is present – not necessarily a lifeguard – but someone whose designated job is to watch the pool for safety.
• A phone should be accessible at all times, and the property owner should keep a copy of CPR instructions poolside if they are needed.
The recent spate of swimming pool deaths in Massachusetts illustrates the need to be aware of the dangers that pools represent. In a great many of these types of cases, the injuries and drowning deaths that occur are sustained by children.
I advise all my clients who have a swimming pool: Make sure that your homeowners’ insurance policy provides coverage for liability claims arising from the use or maintenance of your pool. Generally speaking, I would not advise anyone with a swimming pool on their premises to carry anything less than a bare minimum of $2.0 million in umbrella coverage; you should communicate with your insurance agent to make certain that you carry adequate liability coverage. Aside from homeowners, other potential defendants in a swimming pool accident case commonly include a condominium association, an apartment building owner, a day camp or summer camp operator, a school district or university, or a hotel/motel resort. In some cases, where negligent installation or repair of a pool played a role in the accident, the manufacturer or installer of the pool might also be liable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is conducting a national Pool Safety Campaign. Click on this link here to learn more.
Unfortunately, accidents don’t take a vacation. In the unfortunate event that you or someone you know has been injured in a Massachusetts swimming pool accident, contact our office for a free consultation. We are experienced with this type of litigation, and can provide you with the expert legal guidance you will need if you are facing this kind of situation.