Yes. The short answer is that if you own a pool, you’re liable for accidents that occur in or around the pool. In fact, even if the injured person doesn’t seem upset, or the family is willing to forgive you, under Florida law they may still have years to decide to sue you. A simple lawsuit or an insurance claim can be serious and financially burdensome for you.
We’re not lawyers and every situation is a little different. If there has been an accident near your pool or you’re concerned about your liability in general, you should reach out to a lawyer. Otherwise, this quick guide will give you some basic information to get started understanding swimming pool liability.
What Counts as Negligent?
Essentially, if there is an accident at your pool but you’re not negligent then you cannot be held responsible (although the process of defending yourself in court may still be lengthy and expensive.) If you were negligent, then you can be held responsible, especially for major injuries with large medical bills attached or wrongful death.
What makes you negligent? If someone has been hurt at your pool and they sue you, in Florida, then their lawyers will seek to prove a few things in order to hold you responsible. Those things include:
- You owed them a duty of reasonable care
- You were careless either by acting or failing to act in a specific way
- The person was injured directly because of your action or inaction
- The person suffered damages because of their injury
Something as simple as failing to fix a patio stone that has come loose can be considered negligent. It can be a serious issue. For example, if a child trips on the paver, they hit their head off the side of the pool, fall in and require resuscitation, dental work, and other medical care, then you can be held negligent.
What About Trespassing?
What if someone breaks into your yard to swim and is then injured. Under Florida law, you have the least duty of care for trespassers. In fact, in most circumstances you have no duty of care. Which means that usually when a trespasser is injured it is not the homeowner’s fault.
The question about trespassing is revealing in another way. We want to think that our friends and family would never try to sue us if they were injured at our pool and so we only worry about strangers. The problem is, even people who really do care about us may be put in a difficult position after an injury at a pool. For example, if the family of the injured person are secretly having financial troubles, or has a lapse in insurance, they may feel like they need to sue you to afford even small medical bills.
Won’t Insurance Cover It?
Basic homeowner insurance policies may not cover liability from your swimming pool. Most homeowners need to purchase a separate policy or an additional coverage package to have any coverage on their pool. Insurance may refuse to cover damages, may not pay for your legal defense, or may not offer enough coverage for these costs.