Legal Liability for Swimming Pool Accidents in FloridaDrownings and other swimming pool accidents can lead to medical bills, loss of work, and, in some tragic cases, the deaths of loved ones. Victims of swimming pool accidents in Florida may have justification to seek compensation for such losses.

Understanding swimming pool liability laws in Florida will help you better understand your legal options after a drowning or swimming pool accident. You may have grounds to file a claim or lawsuit if a pool owner’s carelessness harmed you or a loved one.

General Information About Drowning Accident Liability in Florida

Florida’s premises liability law generally states a property owner is responsible for maintaining safe premises for legally permitted guests. Premises liability for pool owners in Florida states they may be liable for drownings resulting from their failure to fulfill this responsibility.

That doesn’t mean a pool’s owner is always liable when a drowning occurs. For example, perhaps a victim was injured in a drowning accident they caused because they were intoxicated. Under Florida law, a pool’s owner may not be liable.

What You Need to Know About Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act

Per the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA) in Florida, a residential swimming pool in Florida must meet one of the following safety standards:

  • A barrier meeting specific standards under Florida law (more on this below) must isolate the pool from access to a home.
  • If any doors or windows of a home provide direct access to a pool, they must have safety alarms. The safety alarm for such a window or door must have “a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dB A at 10 feet.”
  • A door providing direct access from a home to a pool must have a self-closing and self-latching device. The release mechanism of this device must be no more than 54 inches above the floor.
  • The pool must have an alarm to detect someone’s accidental or unauthorized presence. The alarm must meet ASTM Standard F2208 for residential pool alarms.

Meeting one of the above standards requires a residential pool to pass inspection in Florida. For a barrier isolating a pool from access to a home to comply with the law, it must have all of the following qualities:

  • The barrier’s outside height must be at least four feet.
  • The barrier must not have any gaps or other flaws or “structural components” that would allow a child to get through the barrier and access the pool quickly.
  • The barrier must cover the perimeter of the pool. Typically, it can’t be part of another barrier on a home’s property unless that barrier covers the pool’s perimeter and meets the other requirements here.
  • The edge of the barrier must be far enough away from the pool that if a child or “medically frail elderly person” accidentally penetrates it, they don’t immediately fall through the barrier and into the pool.

If a swimming pool is aboveground, it may serve as its barrier, or an owner may erect a barrier upon it. The barrier must still meet the above requirements. In addition, steps providing access to an aboveground pool must be removable, secure, or protected by a barrier meeting these requirements.

A gate providing access to a pool or pool area must:

  • Open outward from the pool
  • Be self-closing
  • Have a self-latching locking device whose release mechanism is on the poolside of the gate and can’t easily be reached by a young person on the other side of the gate.

A dwelling or similar structure may be part of a barrier if it doesn’t provide access to the pool. No permanent structure on a property should allow someone to quickly scale a barrier into a pool or pool area.

The Penalties for Failure to Abide by Florida Pool Safety Regulations

Legal Liability for Swimming Pool Accidents in FloridaFailure to abide by the terms of the RSPSA can result in a second-degree misdemeanor conviction. The penalties for such a conviction may include:

In addition, failing to meet Florida’s swimming pool barriers and alarm requirements may result in a pool owner having to participate in a drowning prevention education program. The fee for such a program is $100.

A residential pool owner may also be more likely to be found liable in a civil proceeding if they violated the RSPSA and someone lost their life or was harmed in a drowning accident.

This is due to the legal principle of negligence per se. According to negligence per se, someone is automatically considered negligent when they break a safety law, and others are injured as a result. If a child or other such individual accessed a pool and was harmed because a pool owner violated the RSPSA, they may automatically be liable.

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in Florida

Per Florida’s attractive nuisance doctrine, certain potentially dangerous items and features on a property might attract children unaware of their danger. Property owners should take steps to ensure these nuisances don’t cause harm to children.

A pool is a feature a child may find attractive. A residential pool owner should consider this when establishing barriers to guard against access to a pool. The main goal is to take all necessary steps to prevent a child from accessing the pool and getting hurt.

Contact a Florida Pool Accidents Attorney

Understanding swimming pool liability in Florida can be complex and challenging. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a Florida swimming pool accident, you may have questions about your legal rights.

A Florida pool accident lawyer at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers would happily answer your questions. We’ll provide the representation you deserve, helping you seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and even losses that don’t have an exact dollar value, like pain and suffering. Contact us online or at (619) 233-5020 for a free case review.

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