Swimming pools present wonderful opportunities for both children and adults to have fun, particularly when the weather is warm. However, swimming pools also pose significant risks that most people do not think about when splashing into the cool water. Unfortunately, there are times when the careless or negligent actions of swimming pool owners or property managers lead to severe injuries for patrons. At Tiano O’Dell, we are here to help if you need a West Virginia swimming pool liability attorney. Our team understands these cases, and we have the resources necessary to conduct a full investigation to determine liability.
Homeowner’s Duty of Care
Homeowners in West Virginia have a responsibility to ensure that their property is safe. If a person owns a swimming pool, they must take various steps to meet certain safety obligations. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for any accident, injury, or drowning that occurs on their property. The homeowner’s duty of care in these situations refers to a person’s legal requirement to act in a reasonable manner to keep their premise is safe. Under premises liability law, the duty of care imposed on a person examines the actions that a reasonable person would exercise in the same or similar circumstances.
A Pool is an Attractive Nuisance
Swimming pools are what is known as an attractive nuisance. This is particularly important to understand, particularly when working to ensure the safety of children. An attractive nuisance is defined as a dangerous element on a person’s property that is enticing or attractive to others. Swimming pools are considered attractive nuisances because they tempt children and strangers to enter a property to use the pool (with or without the owner’s permission). Pool owners have a responsibility to ensure that they take steps to prevent anyone from getting to the attractive nuisance. This includes placing a fence with a locking gate around a pool. Failing to take these steps could result in the property owner being held liable in the event an injury or death occurs.
Are Pools Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?
Yes, pools are usually covered by homeowners insurance in West Virginia. If an accident takes place in a swimming pool on a person’s property, the homeowner’s insurance will usually pay for the related damages. However, it is crucial for any person who owns a pool to ensure that they have the minimum liability insurance requirements through their homeowners insurance policy. Experts who handle pools for homeowners recommend that a person purchase at least $500,000 minimum in liability insurance through their homeowners insurance policy. This coverage will help pay for various expenses in the event an accident occurs, including a victim’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering losses, and more.
West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act
The West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act is designed to enhance the safety of residential pools and spas, encourage the use of various layers of protection, prevent children from drowning in pools, and reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents. This law defined the types of safety standards that must be adhered to for any pool installed or remodeled after July 1, 2012.
Particularly, the Act defines that enclosures around pools meet the following characteristics:
- Any access gates must open away from the pool and be self-closing with a latch placed no lower than 60 inches above the ground.
- Be a minimum height of 60 inches.
- Have a maximum vertical clearance from the ground to the enclosure of two inches.
- Have gaps (if there are any) that do not allow the passage of a sphere equal to or greater than 4 inches in diameter.
- Have an outside surface free from protrusions, cavities, or any other characteristic that could serve as foot or handholds that would enable a child under the age of five to climb.
Safety Recommendations for Pool Owners
If you have a swimming pool on your property, or if you are considering installing one, there are various steps that you can take to ensure that the area is as safe as possible for your family and for any guests. This includes the following:
- Thoroughly review and obey all aspects of the West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act.
- Ensure that all access doors and gates to a swimming pool or locked.
- Install an alarm that creates an alert anytime someone enters the pool.
- Keep the pool area clear from any obstacles or hazards.
- Check the pool for defects regularly, including broken drain covers.
- Never allow a child to swim alone.
- Teach all children in the household how to swim at an early age.
- Ensure that there are members of the household trained in CPR in case of a drowning incident.
Unfortunately, one of the most common things that people say after a swimming pool injury or death occurs is, “We didn’t think it could happen to us.”
The reality is that swimming pool accidents can happen to anybody. Even though these incidents are “accidents,” the reality is that most swimming pool accidents are completely preventable. If swimming pool owners take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of their families and any person who comes onto their property, they can save lives.
What if You are Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
If you or a loved one sustained an injury on another party’s property in West Virginia, please seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Tiano O’Dell, we have the resources necessary to fully investigate your claim and help you secure the compensation you are entitled to. This can include coverage of your medical bills, lost income, general household out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering damages, and more. These cases can become incredibly complicated, but a skilled attorney will stand up to aggressive insurance carriers and property owners in an effort to ensure victims are properly cared for. If you need a premises liability attorney in West Virginia, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling us at (304) 720-6700.