Who Is Liable When A Drowning Accident Occurs?

by Terry Bryant

When a drowning accident occurs, the sudden tragedy can leave families wondering who is responsible. Just because there may be no intention to harm doesn’t mean that there are no liable parties. Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their swimming areas and keep them as safe as possible. A pool, though, is easy to forget about, and it’s common for owners to neglect basic safety measures. Sadly, this neglect often affects the most vulnerable, especially young children.

Property owners must make every effort to prevent a drowning accident, though how liable they are for an incident depends on who is harmed. Invitees are people who patronize a public swimming area, whether or not they pay for the privilege. Licensees are social guests allowed to use a private pool, usually one owned by a homeowner. Trespassers are people not allowed to access the property and are not usually allowed protection against injury, except for one major exception.

Property owners must maintain all safety equipment, lighting, drains, and water quality if they allow invitees in the water. Warning signs must be posted for water depth and for alerting swimmers if there are any difficult to see obstructions in the water. Property owners that allow licensees in the water must inform swimmers of any unusual dangers, like exposed drains. Property owners are typically not held liable for any injuries to trespassers, unless that trespasser is a young child. Precautions, such as fencing, must be present to prevent children from accessing the water at all times.

Liability in these cases is often difficult to determine, which is why many people turn to an experienced injury attorney to manage them.