Understanding Liability in Florida Pool Drowning Cases: Are You Keeping Visitors to Your Home Safe?

Life buoy on water with is shadow at the bottom of the poolAccording to a report from the Florida Department of Health, Florida has one of the highest rates of preventable drownings in the country. While some accidental drownings occur on our lakes and inland waterways, many occur in pool drowning—including swimming pools in people’s backyards.

If you have a swimming pool, it is important to ensure you are doing everything required to keep visitors to your home safe. While you might not be able to stop trespassers from swimming in your pool when you aren’t home, there are steps that you can (and should) take to minimize the risk of drowning for your visitors.

Pool Safety Requirements and Homeowner Liability Under Florida Law

Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act establishes specific safety requirements for home swimming pools. Under the law, “a residential swimming pool must meet at least one of the following requirements” to pass inspection:

  • The pool must be surrounded by an enclosure that meets Florida’s “pool barrier requirements;”
  • The pool must be equipped with an approved pool safety cover;
  • All doors and windows that provide direct access to the pool must be equipped with an approved exit alarm;
  • All doors providing direct access to the pool must be equipped with a self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism at least 54 inches above the ground or,
  • The door must be equipped with a swimming pool alarm that detects accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water.

Importantly, however, even if a homeowner complies with the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the homeowner is immune from liability in the event of an accidental drowning. Homeowners can be held liable for other forms of negligence as well, including (but not limited to):

  • Failing to keep the pool clean (in particular, failing to remove debris from the surface of the water that could obscure the view of someone below)
  • Failing to keep pool water properly treated and maintain pumps and other pool equipment in good working order
  • Failing to install drain covers or take other protective measures to prevent entrapment below the water
  • Failing to adequately monitor children who are swimming
  • Providing alcohol to minors who are swimming

Again, these are just examples. When a homeowner is deemed negligent, the homeowner can be liable for an accidental drowning in the homeowner’s pool. While accidental drowning claims may be covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy, a homeowner’s coverage might not be enough to fully cover the financial and non-financial losses suffered by the victim’s family.

Speak with a Lawyer about Pool Drowning Liability

If you need to know more about Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act or have questions related to homeowners’ liability for accidental drownings in swimming pools in Florida, we invite you to get in touch. To speak with a lawyer at our offices in Naples or Marco Island in confidence, please call 239-649-6555 or tell us how we can reach you online today.

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