Eight out of ten public swimming pools in the Sunshine State are at risk for immediate closure due to public health violations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Safety equipment violations, disinfectant concentration violations, and pool chemical safety violations were the top three categories; there was more than one infraction at 80 percent of the closed or reprimanded facilities. Water pH level, chlorine amount, and bromine concentration must all be within very strict parameters for the pool to be safe, and many pools fall short in this category. Others are missing crucial life-saving equipment, like shepherds’ hooks and life rings; others have inadequate pool deck space for performing emergency CPR. The CDC just enacted national public pool safety standards, but it may be several years before they are fully implemented. Most Florida public pools are inspected once or twice a year, and re-inspected if authorities find violations.
There are 4,000 drowning deaths each year, and it is the leading cause of death for children between 1 and 4. Additionally, up to 5,000 people a year are rushed to hospital emergency rooms because of chemical exposure, bacteria exposure, or other pool-related illness.
Swimmers at public pools and water play parks are clearly invitees, because they are on the premises at the landowner’s express or implied invitation. Hotel guests, water park guests, and many public pool users also pay an entry fee, which cements their legal status.
Landowners owe invitees the highest duty of care, because the owners must ensure that the property is reasonably safe. So, landowners have a duty to inspect their premises. They also have a responsibility to address any hazards, like wet spots on floors or unlit parking lots, that they either know about or should know about.
If a landowner breaches the duty of care and that breach causes injury, the victim is entitled to compensation for economic damages, such as lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as emotional distress. Punitive damages are also available, in many cases.
Swimming Pool Liability
As indicated by the above story, there are basically two potential injuries in this category: drownings and water-borne illnesses.
A pool owner, be it the county or a hotel, has a duty to properly supervise swimmers, and a “No Lifeguard on Duty” or “Swim at Your Own Risk” sign may not be a defense in a negligent drowning case. Even if such signage excuses the lack of a lifeguard, which is doubtful, the owner still has the duty to provide adequate safety equipment in accessible locations.
Many water-borne illnesses occur in the wake of hygienic emergencies, because swimmers are either exposed to fecal matter or a lifeguard adds anti-bacterial chemicals to the water and fails to properly dilute them. In these instances, the owner has a duty to strictly enforce hygienic rules and, in the event of a breach, make sure the water is safe before allowing patrons to re-enter it.
Contact Assertive Lawyers
Owners must keep their pools safe. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury attorney, contact Reed & Reed. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.