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Are You Liable If Someone Drowns In Your Pool?

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Are You Liable If Someone Drowns In Your Pool?

While never a pleasant scenario to imagine, if you own a swimming pool the question inevitably will come up at some point; what happens if someone drowns in the pool? Knowing what your liability is as a homeowner and the facts regarding this issue may answer several important questions. Namely, are you financially covered in the event of an accidental death?

Public & Private Pool Liability

In public pools and privately run pools, the pool owner or operator is liable for the safety of swimmers. Examples of negligent behavior can include failing to ensure proper operation of equipment and following basic safety guidelines. Owners and operators may also be liable for failing to properly staff and train lifeguards.

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Slip & Fall Injuries

Injuries such as slip and falls that occur on premises may also constitute negligence on the part of the pool owner if a court determines they were at fault and failed to maintain the facilities. Even to the extent of providing adequate signage that directs people not to run or engage in horseplay around the pool area.

Homeowner Liability

Residential pool owners may also be liable in the event of an injury or unforeseen tragedy such as an accidental drowning. A lawyer would argue that the responsibility to address any potential safety hazards in and around the pool lies with the homeowner.

Recommended Guidelines

The National Safety Council (NSC) has set guidelines for mitigating the risk of drowning. Some of those recommended safety measures include:

  • Having an adult supervising the pool area at all times when young children or inexperienced swimmers are present.
  • Keeping children and other vulnerable people out of areas of the pool where suction devices are present.
  • Keeping emergency supplies such as a first-aid kits on hand and easily accessible.
  • Hiring a designated lifeguard for any event hosting a large number of people in the pool.
  • Assuring that at least one CPR-trained person is present when necessary.
  • Preventing persons who have consumed alcohol from swimming.
  • Preventing swimmers from diving and dangerously engaging in horseplay with one another.

Many states also have laws regarding fences, gates, and barriers that must be in place around the pool area. Failure to install this required equipment in accordance with the state mandate could constitute negligence on the part of the homeowner and leave them liable for damages.

Who Else May Be Liable For Damages?

While the laws of each state differ, trade professionals such as pool service technicians and even pool builders may be liable in the event of an injury or accidental death. In some instances, pool equipment suppliers and manufacturers may even be held liable for damages.

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Examples of Potential Liability

One scenario would be if there was a recall on an installed piece of equipment sold after the recall date, or if electrical was improperly bonded in the swimming pool by the contractor. The potential for liability increases for those responsible for maintaining and sanitizing the swimming pools under their management.

What Pool Owners Need To Do To Protect Themselves

If you’re building a swimming pool, liability insurance is a must, according to insurance experts. While most homeowners carry a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage, some policies don’t cover swimming pools. An accident could potentially leave you with liability for damages that exceed your minimum coverage.

Most insurance experts would advise purchasing an additional $1 million in liability coverage if you are building a pool.
Most insurance experts would advise purchasing an additional $1 million in liability coverage if you are building a pool.

Additional Liability Coverage

Many homeowners opt to purchase additional liability coverage to protect themselves in the unlikely event a lawsuit arises. While some umbrella liability coverage plans extend to the pool, some don’t. In certain cases homeowners may opt to purchase an additional $1 million in coverage which may cover slip & falls, injuries, and even drowning.

This type of safety net provides the peace of mind that in the event of an accident there is adequate insurance coverage for any potential lawsuits which may arise.

Do Homeowners Need To Inform Their Insurance Company They’re Building a Pool?

The short answer is “yes”. Many homeowners may find that it’s advisable to give their insurance agent a call before building a pool. Finding out how much coverage you have, what your homeowners policy covers, and where any potential gaps may be is always a smart idea before you embark upon a pool construction project.

Swimming pools in general are considered detached structures much like a shed. As such, typically they are not covered under a general homeowners policy unless it’s been specifically added.

Building a Swimming Pool Could Raise Your Insurance

One unforeseen cost of building a pool regards insurance. Some consumers may find that their current homeowners policy does not cover a swimming pool. Experts would say that it’s prudent to ask whether building a pool will raise the monthly premium price.

Be Prepared To Pay More For a Diving Board

Insurance professionals advise that building a swimming pool which incorporates a feature such as a jump rock or diving board can also raise rates or potentially prohibit your insurer from extending liability coverage on the pool entirely.

Rental Property Owners

It’s advised that homeowners who rent out their property or swimming pool get additional liability coverage. In most instances, a standard homeowners policy does not cover rental situations. Popular rental platforms like VRBO, Airbnb and Swimply offer up to an additional $1 million in coverage, but purchasing your own independent additional coverage may ultimately be the best protection for those who are renting out their backyard.

What Happens If Someone Drowns And You Get Sued?

All new pools in California must meet the requirements of the Swimming Pool Safety Act, which are outlined in sections 115920-115929 of the California Health and Safety Code. Among other things, the Act requires access gates in residential swimming pool enclosures to be at least 60 inches long, self-closing, and have a self-latching device no lower than 60 inches above the ground.

One Famous Pool Liability Case

Former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and his wife, actress Pamela Anderson, were sued for $10 million in 2001 after a four-year-old child drowned in their swimming pool during a birthday party. The toddler had been left unaccompanied “for a minute,” according to Lee. Although a jury finally found that Lee and Anderson were not negligent, the couple was still subjected to much agony as well as significant legal expenditures.

There is no better substitute for having a responsible adult supervising young children in the pool.
There is no better substitute for having a responsible adult supervising young children in the pool.

Best Advice To Prevent Liability:

  • Allow guests to enter the pool only if they are supervised by a responsible adult.
  • Do not leave floats and toys in the pool that may attract small children.
  • When adult guests come to visit, make sure they’re responsible for supervising their children.
  • Do not let intoxicated adult guests or their children swim in the pool.
  • Consider leaving a diving board out of your pool plan.
  • Maintain a homeowner’s insurance policy with at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage for swimming pool injuries.
  • Surround the pool with the appropriate size pool fence.
  • Install gates that are self-latching and are at least 60 inches high.
  • When not in use, the pool should ideally be securely covered.
  • Make certain that everyone in the house knows how to swim.
  • Pool owners should be familiar with basic first aid and life-saving skills.
  • Keep enough pool safety equipment (not only flotation devices) around the pool.
  • Consider adding a pool alarm to notify you when the water’s surface is interrupted.

3/5 - (2 votes)

Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Famous Pool Painting Becomes Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold

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Famous Pool Painting Becomes Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold

The current record for most expensive painting ever sold by a living artist belongs to David Hockney. His Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) recently sold for $90,312,500 at an auction conducted by Christie’s. The record-breaking painting is the single most expensive piece of artwork ever sold; that is by an artist that’s still breathing.

Hockney described himself once as “cooler than Warhol, more enduring than Lucien Freud.” The British native made a name for himself in the 1960’s after relocating to Los Angeles. It was in L.A. that he created some of his best known work, paintings featuring realistic depictions of swimming pools and Hollywood architecture.

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Hockney first visited California in January 1964, following a successful first solo exhibition at the John Kasmin gallery. The United States captivated him, particularly Los Angeles, owing to the impact of its modern buildings and Hollywood in general.

The swimming pool was a constant topic in Hockney’s paintings after he created California Art Collector in 1964, including Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool (1966, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), and most memorably A Bigger Splash (1967, Tate Gallery). Between 1968 and 1977, he created a number of double portraits, such as American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) (1968, Art Institute of Chicago), Mr. and Mrs. Clark, and Percy (1971, Tate Gallery).

The swimming pool and the double portrait, two of Hockney’s subjects from his paintings from the late 1960s and early 1970s, are combined in the piece ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’. It shows a man swimming breaststroke underwater while wearing white trunks, while another is shown standing at the pool’s edge wearing full clothing and gazing down at the swimmer. The scene of the artwork is southern France, close to Saint-Tropez. With a view of hills covered in trees in the backdrop, the foreground is flattened and simplified in typical Hockney fashion.

A chance meeting of two photographs—one of a man swimming underwater, shot in California in 1966, and the other of a man standing and staring at the ground—that Hockney saw on his studio floor served as the inspiration for the composition. When compared, it seemed as though the person standing was staring at the swimmer.

Hockney said of the painting, “I must admit I loved working on that picture, […] working with such intensity; it was marvelous doing it, really thrilling”

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The sale history of that particular painting is interesting in itself. In 1972, James Astor and his wife purchased the picture for $18,000, which would be worth $117,000 in 2021. It was sold again six months later for $50,000, which would be $324,000 in 2021. American billionaire David Geffen bought it in 1983, then in 1995, he sold it to British billionaire Joe Lewis for an undisclosed sum.

When asked by CBC Radio, why Hockney started painting swimming pools, he replied:

‘In England, a swimming pool would have been seen as a sign of luxury, because the climate in England is not very good for outdoor pools. But in Southern California, it’s not — they’re simply everywhere because you can enjoy them year-round.’

‘The first place I lived, I rented a small apartment with an outdoor swimming pool. I mean, I didn’t own the pool, but nevertheless it was there.’

4.8/5 - (21 votes)

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Infinity Pool Collapse Injures Guests

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Infinity Pool Collapse Injures Guests

An infinity pool collapsed and injured a newlywed couple at a luxury Caribbean resort hotel. Reports indicate that the swimming pool collapsed unexpectedly, leading them to be swept out to sea.

Jelizaveta and Gavin Jones of Colindale, London, were on their $13,000 honeymoon at the five-star Sandals Royal Curaçao hotel when the incident occurred. Curaçao police claimed at least 12 people were injured, including the bride, who sustained ‘horrific injuries’ when the walls of the sea-facing pool caved in on Thursday.

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Jelizaveta Jones, 29, reportedly sustained ‘horrific injuries’ when the infinity pool at the Sandals Royal Curaçao hotel suddenly collapsed as she was swimming. The bride and her husband Gavin, along with 20 other vacationers in the pool, were washed out to sea.

Mrs Jones, 29, a sales professional for a US software firm, told news sources:

‘I was facing my husband, talking to him in the pool. Then I saw him go under first, then maybe five seconds later, I went. I was stuck beneath the water.’

‘I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breathe. It was all happening very quickly, there was no warning.’

‘I was trying to get up to the surface for some air, but the current was too strong. I couldn’t do anything.’

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According to local media, Curaçao police stated after their initial inquiry that the glass cracked because there were too many people in the pool during a party.

‘We’d only been in the resort less than 24 hours and were having a few drinks,’ claimed Mr Jones, 44, a bar and nightclub owner.

‘I was standing with my back to the sea, talking to my wife, when one of the panels in the middle of the pool suddenly vanished.’

‘The weight of the sea carried myself, Elizabeth, and many other individuals about 30 yards down the beach.’

The hotel had just recently opened in June, with one of its primary selling features being a bi-level infinity pool with views of both the mountains and the surrounding coast.

A spokesperson for Sandals Resorts International released a statement: ‘Thankfully, there were only a small number of guests in the pool at the time.

‘Our resort team worked quickly to ensure all were provided with immediate support and medical attention, including an evaluation by local medical professionals and treatment for any guest who required it.

‘There is nothing more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests and we remain in contact with guests affected should there be any further support required.’

The swimming pool continues to remain closed at the resort for repairs. While the incident remains under investigation, this certainly isn’t an isolated one when it comes to glass panel pools.

Glass panel infinity pool failure in rooftop condominium pool.

Certainly not the first attention-grabbing pool failure we’ve seen this year. The incident was reminiscent of a similar situation that occurred in a 5th-floor rooftop infinity pool in Whampoa a few years back. Officials said that either a design or construction flaw of that swimming pool caused the pool walls to collapse and the glass panels to suddenly give way.

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Tesla Pool – Automaker Adds Swimming Pool To Charger Station

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Tesla Swimming Pool

One of the primary reasons consumers opt to purchase a Tesla is the robust availability of convenient charging stations. Recently, the automaker has experimented with adding amenities to its charging stations. New cube lounges at a Supercharger station in Germany come equipped with automated coffee, food, and more. Tesla is also adding other options and fun activities for drivers to enjoy while they wait for their vehicles to charge. The newest amenity they’re currently experimenting with is an above ground swimming pool.

A clip of the pool being installed prior to launch was shared with news sources.

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The swimming pool can be used by up to 4 people at a time for 10 minutes, giving folks just enough time to change into their swim suits and enjoy a quick dip while their vehicle charges. There are even Tesla-branded beach balls to play with while they’re swimming in the shipping container style above ground pool.

This promotional popup will open at the Tesla charging station in Hilden, Germany; which incidentally is one of the largest in the country with 40 chargers and 8 superchargers. The pool will be open from Thursday until Sunday. Tesla owners can drop in for a swim from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

What do you think about this idea? Is this something you’d like to see in the United States? Sound off in the comments and let us know.

3/5 - (2 votes)

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