It’s no secret that it’s hot in Arizona. We are always looking for ways to stay cool and swimming pools provide some relief during those hot days and nights. And, while pool ownership has many benefits, there are serious risks and potential liabilities that a pool owner can face in the event of an accident.
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According to Lendingtree.com, Phoenix ranks #1 in the nation for share of homes with pools, leading the way with 32.7%. Miami is a close second, with 30.6%. As homeowners, most of us don’t mind having a pool. But we should.
Pool owners have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for children and adults. Accident prevention is key so you don’t face a personal injury lawsuit if something happens.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to owning a swimming pool:
The responsibility of the premises applies: Because a swimming pool is physically on your home’s property, it is considered part of the property and venue liability rules apply if someone is injured using your pool. This law applies to any unsafe or defective condition. This means pool owners must keep track of maintenance and warn customers of any potential hazards that may not be visible or obvious.
Beware of slippery patios or terraces: People can slip on wet areas around a swimming pool. The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that, under the law, owners have no duty to warn guests of the danger of water around a swimming pool. But a homeowner can be held liable if the patio surrounding the homeowner’s back pool was painted with shiny enamel paint, making the patio more slippery, and the homeowners knew others had slipped on the patio but didn’t. notified the guests.
The pool area must be fenced: According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Environmental Health, any residence with a swimming pool, where one or more children under the age of six live in the residence, must be surrounded by a minimum of 5 feet high wall, gate, fence or barrier, and it must be at least 20 inches from the edge of the pool. In addition, it must be self-closing or self-locking.
Home insurance can help you: A home insurance policy can cover the repair of your swimming pool (if the damage is among the risks mentioned in your policy). More importantly, your landlord’s policy usually has liability coverage that can help if a guest is injured at your pool and medical or legal expenses are incurred. Sometimes pool owners may choose to add an umbrella policy that provides liability coverage beyond the limits of your home insurance policy. You should always mention to your insurer that you have a pool, to ensure that you have the correct amount of coverage.
Diving boards add risks: Although diving boards are fun, they add an additional element of risk and the possibility of injury. Many home insurance companies will no longer underwrite coverage if a diving board is present on the property. If you are remodeling an old pool or building a new pool, you may want to consider removing or not installing a diving board.
Obtain the appropriate permits: It’s surprising, but not every house has a pool, especially if it’s new construction and you can customize the house to your specifications. You may have the option of creating a swimming pool on your own. If so, it’s a good idea to hire a pool builder who can get the proper permits from the city on your behalf, as it’s not an easy process. If you have additional or unique features, such as a waterfall, fire features (connected to the pool), an elevated pool, or other non-typical pool structures or features, additional permits are required at the beyond the norm. You may also need HOA approval.
As you can see, with pool ownership comes responsibility. It is your legal responsibility as a pool owner to ensure the safety of your pool and its surroundings, as required by law. If it can be proven that an accident or injury occurred as a result of your negligence, you may be liable. Let’s all play it safe and heed the information mentioned above – and enjoy being outside and in our pools with confidence.
Author: Steven Gross is a senior member of The Cavanagh Law Firmwhere his practice focuses on insurance coverage, personal injury and bad faith litigation.