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Who Is Liable For Pool Accidents In California?

Updated: Nov 11

What Are Your Rights In Swimming Pool Accidents And Injury Claims?


Pools can be slippery, on top of other dangers it poses. It's so easy to let your guard down in swimming pools because you might be preoccupied with having fun and enjoying your time with family and friends. If you've unfortunately been involved in a swimming pool accident, you should know your next steps to hold people accountable and get damages for the losses you've incurred in the process.


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A swimming pool injury may change fun into tragedy more swiftly or thoroughly than anything else. Only a few moments at the bottom of the ocean can cost the victim and their family a lifetime of misery and sorrow. To assist these families, substantial compensation is offered in California.

That said, to get compensation for medical bills and other losses, you need to know your personal injury rights.

Swimming Pool Incidents And The Most Common Causes

Anyone, at any time, can be injured in a swimming pool. Various types of injuries have different effects on different victims.

1. Drowning

Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional death among children under the age of four. Even as adults, children's lungs are still undeveloped. Underwater, a few seconds can feel like an eternity. Furthermore, many victims, both young and old, experience anxiety while they are submerged. Victims can drown in as little as a few feet of water, which is not uncommon.

2. Chemical Toxicity


Most people do not link chemical toxicity to swimming pools, yet there is a link. Chlorine and other pool-cleaning chemicals are incredibly harmful. Some swimmers may suffer severe chemical burns to their eyes, ears, noses, and/or throats if the chemical level is just a bit too high. The wounds are even more severe if the sufferer has a pre-existing condition.

On the other hand, bacterial infections could be an issue, especially when the water gets very heated. Bacteria can proliferate quickly if the chemical level is a little too low. These infections are even more dangerous if the sufferer has a pre-existing ailment.


3. Injuries From Broken Or Unsafe Drains

Pool drains can be quite dangerous due to the large amount of suction required to filter and clean pools. Small children have drowned after becoming entangled in the high suction of a drain.

To reduce the risk of suction-related injuries and deaths, pools should have specific measures in place. All public pools are required to follow these protocols. Otherwise, they will be punished.

4. Injuries Exacerbated By Inadequate Supervision


The correct staff-to-swimmer ratio should be maintained by employees working in public pools. Swimmers may drown without ever being discovered if there aren't enough lifeguards and other supervising workers on duty.

Swimming pools attract people who may or may not be able to swim. But, even if they do, they may get cramps or other mishaps that result in drowning.

Not only should staffing levels be adequate, but they need also be adequately trained. Employees may be working in jobs for which they are unqualified due to poor hiring practices, inadequate screening, or a failure to do background checks.


A lifeguard's ability to swim or do CPR properly could put someone's life in danger.


5. Accidents Caused By Lack Of Warnings And Signages

It is the responsibility of public pool owners to educate the public about the dangers of swimming at their facility. For example, people must be told whether a lifeguard is on duty, what hours the lifeguard is on duty, and whether diving in certain areas of the pool is safe.


Pool rules and limits, such as no running allowed, pool hours of operation, and the requirement of adult supervision for minors under the age of 18, should all be clearly stated. Pools must also display accurate information about the depth of the pool and who to contact in the event of an emergency.

FAQ: What If You had pre-existing Conditions, Diseases, or Ailments Before Your Pool Accident?

So, how about pre-existing conditions? How do they affect your damages claim?


Quick answer: They have no effect in the majority of cases. Tortfeasors (negligent actors) are often held totally responsible for any damages. According to the eggshell skull rule, tortfeasors must take victims as they are found. Someone must pay the massive medical bills and other costs involved with swimming pool injuries; that person should never be the victim.

Who's Liable In A Pool Accident In California?

Just because you weren't pushed into the pool or were accidentally knocked over by another person doesn't mean no one is liable for your injuries. A swimming pool accident is considered a premises liability, where the pool owner is mostly to blame for any injuries and accidents caused by negligence and lack of maintenance.

Ordinary Negligence


Ordinary negligence is defined as a lack of care. In most cases, pool owners are legally obligated to keep swimmers safe. The nature of this obligation in California is determined by numerous circumstances, including:

  • Location of the property

  • Injuries are more likely to occur but were not addressed

  • Injury severity is likely to be severe

  • Owner's awareness of the risks and hazards

  • The extent to which the owner has control

  • The cost of preventing injury

Most of these criteria favor the victim/plaintiff in swimming pool injury incidents. Pool safety and upkeep are neither complicated nor expensive. And the risk of damage is virtually unfathomable. The level of control could be the only thing that saves you.


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Because of the res ipsa loquitur theory, negligence is relatively easy to prove in California, assuming the owner had legal responsibility. Thus, for example, if a child is discovered at the bottom of a pool, the jury may infer that the incident was caused by negligence, notwithstanding the absence of witnesses.

It's extremely tough to defend a negligent pool injury case. First, only a preponderance of the evidence is required to meet the burden of proof (more likely than not). Furthermore, the admission of risk is the sole primary defense.

Signs such as "Swim at Your Own Risk" and "No Lifeguard on Duty" make it easier to demonstrate that the risk was assumed. They are not, however, a get-out-of-jail card for property owners. The insurance company must still show that the sufferer saw the sign, understood it, and could read it.

Negligence Per Se


Common law concepts establish the duty of care in ordinary negligence claims. A statute, however, can sometimes determine the standard of care.


Pool safety equipment is frequently regulated in Los Angeles and other cities. The specific rules vary by jurisdiction, but they usually include the following:

  • Unclimbable fence or other barrier enclosing the pool

  • A self-latching gate that is operated from the poolside

  • Alarms are installed on doorways or windows

  • Purity criteria for water

Public and semi-public pools, such as those run by homeowners' associations, must adhere to the same set of laws. These pools, for example, are required to contain certain lifesaving devices within easy reach of the water.


Drains, pumps, and other pool equipment are also subject to regulations. Serious injury could occur if the owner fails to maintain this device. For example, if drains are excessively strong, swimmers may become entangled in deadly undercurrents. If the pump fails, the chlorine may react with the water, resulting in a deadly gas cloud.

Compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, are standard in swimming pool injury cases. In some extreme instances, additional punitive damages may be available.

Contact a California Attorney For Personal Injury for more inquiries on who is possibly liable for your swimming pool accident injuries to help get you the compensation you deserve. Top Rated Personal Injury Attorneys In Los Angeles will know their way around Personal Injury Claims, Swimming Pool Maintainance Laws, and Negotiation and Settlement Claims in California.

Who's to Blame in California Pool Accidents?

The property owner may be held liable for damages if someone is harmed or drowns in a swimming pool accident. In addition, owners are responsible for keeping their property secure for visitors, whether it's a public institution or a private residence.

Understanding the legal requirements for establishing a pool in California may assist victims and family members determine whether legal action is necessary.


Privately-Owned Pools


Premises liability laws may hold the pool owner responsible for any accidents if the pool is privately owned. Therefore, visitors on a property have a legal need to be protected. Property owners must take reasonable safety steps to avoid accidents and injuries.


Here are other caveats to think about:

  • When someone is on the property for the property owner's advantage, such as delivering requested services like gardening or childcare, this obligation is increased.

  • When children are allowed into a residence, the property owner assumes a more significant duty and must ensure that all children are adequately supervised while near the pool. For example, if you invite your neighbors to lunch and one of their children drowns in your pool by accident, the child's parents may sue you for negligence.

  • A claimant must show that the pool owner failed to meet their duty of care to visitors to win a premises liability case. Negligence occurs when someone fails to act so that a reasonable person would in a given situation.

  • A pool owner may be considered negligent if, for example, they fail to fence an in-ground pool, provide adequate supervision for visitors, or properly maintain their pool.

  • Trespassers are adults who have not been welcomed as visitors or conscripted service providers on the property and are thus legally responsible for any injuries they experience on private land.

  • On the other hand, pool owners are considered an "attractive nuisance," and pool owners are accountable for minors who enter the premises illegally. As a result, private pool owners should make every effort to keep children out.

That said, not every accident and injury is the same. Your exact circumstances may not be on this list, but that doesn't mean you don't have enough grounds to file claims in California.


Contact a California Attorney For Personal Injury to help you sort out the damages and compensation you need for your injuries.

Public Swimming Pools

Like private pool owners, public pool operators are legally responsible for their facilities; nevertheless, many will require customers to sign a liability waiver before entering the pool. Another common practice is for public pool management to post signs stating that pool users surrender their legal rights, obviating the need for patrons to sign a written waiver.

The question of whether these disclaimers are legally enforceable remains unresolved. In general, guests cannot free a pool owner of responsibility for injuries caused by the owner's gross negligence or recklessness.

Even if you signed a liability waiver, you might be able to sue if the pool owner purposefully pushed you into the pool. In this aspect, waivers with language like "users disclaim all liability" are deceptive because pool patrons may still be able to file a genuine lawsuit despite signing a release.

That said, consult with a California Attorney For Personal Injury to help you build your case.


Government-Owned Pools


What about public pools, such as those run by your city's Parks and Recreation Department? On the other hand, government pools are subject to the same premises liability restrictions as private pools.


In a typical civil case, however, a private citizen cannot sue the government. Instead, you must adhere to the procedures outlined in the California Tort Claims Act, which governs claims against government bodies.

This approach is distinct from filing a standard case in that it has a much shorter period and several limitations. As a result, speaking with a California Personal Injury Lawyer before filing any legal claim is usually a good idea.

What Are the Pool Owner's Responsibilities?

The California Pool Safety Act mandates that pool owners take necessary safety procedures for visitors. The majority of wrongful death and personal injury cases, on the other hand, allege that the property owner failed to ensure the visitors' safety.

Does the pool owner meet the following safety criteria if you or a loved one is injured in someone else's pool? At least two of the following safety standards must be met by pool owners:

1. Installing Enclosures


A self-closing, self-latching enclosure with no more than two-inch vertical gaps and four-inch horizontal gaps that is at least 60 inches wide.


There must be complete clearance around the fence to prevent children from climbing it with things.