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Thread: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to take

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    Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to take

    I read this article today:
    http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/06/04/w ... e-charges/

    It got me thinking- what are steps that pool owners should take to limit liability in cases like this? Pools can fall under an attractive nuisance doctrine. How much is enough to protect yourself?

    Right now we have a basic iron fence that meets the code for climb-ability and has self closing gates that surrounds our pool, but there are no signs and the gates are not locked so any kid tall enough to reach the latch can get in.
    16k gal IG pool with SWG and DiamondBrite finish
    Pentair Intelliflo pump with 520 sq ft cartridge filter

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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    This statement from under the picture of the pool KILLS me! "A Westford teen accidentally jumped into this empty pool." Seems to me that the girl jumped in quite intentionally! Jumping in was no accident. So very sad that she chose to trespass, dove in head first to a pool she was unfamiliar with, and it was empty.

    I have a similar set up - privacy fence that completely screens the fence from view (mine is 8 foot) & 4 foot chain link between me and backyard neighbors (to be upgraded over the next few years). When I bought this house a few months ago, there was only a decorative picket fence across the part that fronts the street - maybe 3 foot tall and widely spaced pickets. I made a comment to the neighbor as my privacy fence was going up that I couldn't believe that in the 20 years that a pool had been here, there had never been a "real" fence protecting the back yard from the street. I expressed worry about trespassing kids and he quite seriously said "well maybe if a kid trespasses in your yard and get's hurt someone should tell the parents to control their kids." Obviously no longer the way it works in our world, but for sure that would have been the attitude when I was a kid.

    I have done the best I can do to protect people from themselves (and this young lady was technically an adult). She knew she was doing the wrong thing (which is pretty much the definition of young adult) but I am sure that the home owner will end up holding the bag for the $$$.
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    Vote for people that will pass sane liability laws and don't do business with insurance companies that don't even try to defend against frivolous law suits. I say this because it is impossible in the current legal climate to defend one self, let me give an example that happened to a relatives business about 10-15 years ago, the business operated small delivery trucks (medium duty straight trucks), one truck was making a delivery on a small rural paved road (I think the delivery was to some lake front business, marina, store, etc) with no shoulders when the engine died, the driver pulled over as far as he could given the lack of shoulders and nearby trees. While waiting for a tow truck to arrive a car came along and ran into the parked truck, the insurance company settled without every going to court for around $100,000. At first thought you may think ok, maybe there was some liability there....

    Now let me give you a couple of additional facts:

    It was a south bound truck on the right shoulder, and a north bound car that crossed the center of the road to hit the truck (no marked center line on the road though).

    The couple in the car had 5 other current outstanding law suits.
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    I get that anybody can be sued at anytime for anything. I'm just curious what steps can be taken to demonstrate that I as a pool owner am taking "enough" steps to prevent accidents that there is little legal chance of being found liable.
    16k gal IG pool with SWG and DiamondBrite finish
    Pentair Intelliflo pump with 520 sq ft cartridge filter

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    Jenischmeni's Avatar
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    Prior to the installation of our pool, I called our insurance agent and asked HIM what was required. Being up to code wasn't enough, I wanted to see what my insurance company wanted. All that was required was a 4' chain link fence (which is was the county required). We went for extra and put up a 6' privacy fence surrounding the entire backyard, latched gates with hook & eye closures below a level that can be reached.

    This was mostly done to prevent a small child from being able to easily wander into the area. (For our own peace of mind.)

    I think that even if you go far & beyond what's required a determined individual will figure out a way to get into that area. The best that you can do is to prevent an unknowing individual (like a young child) from having access to the pool.

    If you want to know what steps you can (or should) take, call you home owner's insurance agent and ask what they require. (Ultimately that's who would foot the bill.)
    Central Indiana, 7200 gallon, IG fiberglass, L250 Jacuzzi sand filter, Hayward H150 gas heater, Pentair fiber optic light - installed '06. AOSmith 1.0hp pump, CPSC-24 SWG - installed '13. TF-100 Test Kit.

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    Richard320's Avatar
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    I have a 6 or 8 foot cinderblock wall around my yard and a steel gate with a deadbolt lock that stays locked unless I am using it. There's also a gate latch at the very top. I doubt anyone shorter than 4' could open the gate, even if it were unlocked. Above the gate is some sharp fleur-de-lis decorative trim that would discourage anyone from climbing over it. The gate is also self-closing.

    Nobody's wandering into my back yard by accident.
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    I'm on 7+Acres and we have a No Trespassing sign. Additionally,it will have a fence and the alarm for the door if someone were to open it to access the pool from the basement. I plan to hang a safety rules sign, also.

    If some idiot decides to jump into my pool after dark, they may be met with a 12 gauge shotgun filled with 00 buckshot.
    24x32 feet, In-ground, Saltwater, Gunite pool (under construction)

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    Casey's Avatar
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    I had a pool hopper once and although it came out to be my nephew, he was lucky the rottweiler wasn't out for his late night break.

    Our state is now under the Castle Doctrine. We have a right to protect our property and as the poster above states, that is my right. No one here has to like it and that's ok with me.

    As far as protecting my neighbors' children from my aboveground pool, I will have a locking ladder in place and once the pool deck is up, all entrances will be pad locked.
    I'd bet you my bikini you'll never get TFP water from a pool store!

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    cramar's Avatar
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    The best angle is probably 'best practices' in that you demontrate that you went above and beyond the minimum requirements and attempted to make the pool as safe as possible.
    All building codes met or exceeded, all assets maintained and kept in good working order, maintain copies of all approval permits, keep the site in good working order, no tripping hazards, respectable treatment of neighbours in terms of noise, etc.

    No matter what you do a good attorney can always convince someone they've been wronged and to pursue legal compensation, I wouldn't be surprised if the kid in that story turned around and tried suing the property owner and say he was neglegent for keeping a pool with no water - how could a poor unfortunate girl like that expected to forgoe the temptations of a swim?
    If sanity still prevails in North America, and I'm not sure it does, than demontrating to a judge that you pursued a 'best practices' approach and can demontrate that, well, that's probably all you can realistically do.
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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    At the risk of veering off topic, I was the subject of a frivolous lawsuit from an automobile accident that was my fault. Neither car had any damage, but 1 year, 11 months and 27 days later, she sued me. My insurance company fought it and won. They didn't settle out of court, took it to trial (which was a VERY scary process) and the jury awarded her nothing. In fact, a couple of jurists were excused when they expressed outrage over being dragged away from their day jobs for jury polling over frivolous lawsuits. (I guess if you ever want out of jury duty, that's the angle to take! LOL)
    Central Indiana, 7200 gallon, IG fiberglass, L250 Jacuzzi sand filter, Hayward H150 gas heater, Pentair fiber optic light - installed '06. AOSmith 1.0hp pump, CPSC-24 SWG - installed '13. TF-100 Test Kit.

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    Re: Liability: What are some basic steps for pool owners to

    I am not a lawyer but when asked our attorney strongly suggested that we lock both entrances to the pool rather than use a "no trespassing" sign. Apparently a trespasser can claim that they did not "see" a "no trespass" sign but the act of hopping a locked gate pretty well guarantees a criminal trespass charge if we choose to press charges. Other than that my landscape lighting around the pool is on from dusk until dawn allowing me to see the pool and tell if someone is in it with a quick glance from the master bedroom. I doubt I would ever shoot anyone for using my pool without permission but if they didn't leave with a quickness when yelled at they might very well find their backside full of rock salt from one of my shotguns. (same treatment I give deer eating the wife's flowers)
    Erik

    20k gallons, IG (Fiberglass), T-40 Sand Filter(38 GPM),Hayward Superpump w/1 HP motor, Solaxx Harmony (combo cleaner/SWG).

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