Swimming Pool Injuries, Safety Measures and Liability

Legal duties that are imposed on swimming pool owners to help prevent hazards and injuries.


As an attorney with years of experience in wrongful death cases, I have come across countless people who had a loved one die by drowning in a swimming pool. It is a very unfortunate but common accident, with almost 3,500 drownings happening in the U.S. each year.

Common-sense guidelines can help minimize the rate and volume of these type of injuries and fatalities, and inform people about private and public swimming pools law, regulations, safety measures and to talk about liability in case of a lawsuit.


Private swimming pools

Types of injuries

The most important thing to underline is that in most cases, the owner of the pool is held liable in case of an accident. Unfortunately, most swimming pool accidents occur at home or at a friend’s house. These types of cases usually take place because of human negligence. Drowning can happen in the blink of an eye, few seconds of negligence being enough to put someone in mortal danger.

Most of the accidents happen because of a slip and fall injury. People can step in the water on a surface that was not properly cleaned, and they either injure themselves or worse, they can die from falling in the pool and drowning. These accidents often lead to serious injuries such as:

  • Head/Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Neck injury

There have been other types of accidents, where people suffered grave injuries due to a broken ladder or jumping board. Leaving unattended water toys in the pool may attract children to jump in to get them. If the child does not know how to swim or stay afloat, he or she may easily drown without proper supervision.


Safety measures

If you’re hosting an open pool session on your property, you are solely responsible for looking after and maintaining it. You must never leave people, especially children, alone, unattended near the pool. It is also advisable to keep a first aid kit at hand in case of an accident. The pool should also be covered entirely and safely when it’s not being used. There are some pool alarms available on the market that can be very helpful in preventing any injuries. They are easily installed and can detect if someone has entered the water. This way, there is no danger that someone might go for a midnight swim in your pool. Lastly, the yard or the pool itself should be fenced appropriately to prevent anyone from entering your backyard, and subsequently your pool, without your approval.



Building your own pool should be a well-thought-out decision because the owner of the pool is always responsible for providing a safe environment. It is also his or her responsibility to be able to react accordingly in case of an injury. That is why the owner should take all necessary measures to make sure that no serious injury happens at the pool. The fence should be tall, so little children aren’t able to jump over it or open the door. The area around the pool should be built from non-slippery materials and whenever you see a puddle, quickly wipe it off. The pool should be covered at all times when it is not being used and guests should always be warned to be extremely careful. Even if adults are drunk or don’t know how to swim and jump in with a water donut, and something happens to them, you are still liable for their injuries. Talk to your lawyer about your home insurance. Many times, it does not cover swimming pools, so you have to update or take out another one. Be careful, as many lawsuits ask for high compensations, and there have been cases when the insurance was not enough to cover it completely.

Public swimming pools

Types of injuries

Most of the injuries that can happen at a public swimming pool are the same as those from a private one. Slipping and falling can lead to broken bones, brain injuries and even death by drowning. Even drowning incidents that are not fatal injuries can result in severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen to the brain, causing effects ranging from memory loss or learning disabilities to permanent vegetative states.

Some people who have used pools with high jumping boards have landed on their belly and got the wind knocked out of them. This is dangerous because they may become unable of sustaining physical effort and drown. Without the pool having well maintained and enough exits, swimmers may get so tired that they can’t get out and subsequently drown. These injuries are easily avoidable, and by taking the right steps such as keeping the pool in good repair and providing adequate supervision for children and non-swimmers.


Safety measures

The owner of the public pool should make sure that the area surrounding the pool is not slippery when wet, by building it from proper materials. Even so, there should be cleaning staff hired specifically to clean excess water from the ground. Public pools are required by law to have lifeguards on duty, particularly where children under the age of 16 are in the pool without parental or guardian supervision.

The lifeguard should always be present and paying attention to the swimmers, and he should be ready to react quickly whenever the need arises. If anything at the pool could cause injury, the pool owner needs to have signs informing visitors of the danger and interdict the use of that area. The swimming pool area should also be fenced so that trespassing is impossible.



Owners of public pools and water parks have a duty to protect swimmers from injuries on their properties, otherwise, they can be held liable under the usual rules of premises liability when a visitor or swimmer is injured. Even if everyone in the pool can swim, that does not necessarily mean they shouldn’t be supervised.  It is advisable having a visible “Pool Rules” sign posted, as to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure that everyone using the pool knows the safety rules.

Unlike private owners, though, it is easier for public pool owners to get away if trespassers get injured. With this said, in California landholders are liable to anyone for harm suffered on their property, including trespassing children, for negligent acts or dangerous conditions on the property that led to the harm.



Swimming pool accidents that happen at private or public pools account for thousands of deaths annually. When owners fail in the responsibility to make sure that people are kept safe, swimming pool injury attorneys work hard to hold them responsible. In most cases, the drowning of a child happens when he or she is being incorrectly supervised at a swimming pool. Deaths could be avoided if only owners would take the proper safety precautions. If you own a pool, please, be sure to take the measures to guard both your life and the lives of those around you.


About the author:

Sean M. Cleary is a successful attorney, founder, and president of the Miami, Florida-based The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, a trial litigation law firm dedicated to advancing the rights of personal injury victims. He represents plaintiffs in a variety of complex cases, involving cruise ship accidents, car accidents, construction site accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death action.

Sean M. Cleary also has years of experience handling swimming pool accident cases and could analyze your case in a free consultation and help you determine if your case has been caused by the negligence of another person. He has the ability and resources to investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident, getting you the compensation you deserve for your suffering.

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