In Florida, children have poor safety awareness. As such, it is important for children to have supervision in and around pool areas, playground areas, and clubhouses. I am often asked if a waiver would protect the owner or manager of the pool area, playground area, or clubhouse. This is a relatively simple question. Unfortunately, the answer is more complex. Waivers that allow a person or business to act with negligence that causes injury are often times look upon with disfavor by Courts and juries. As such, some courts have struck down waivers as against public policy. If you own or run a pool, playground area, or clubhouse, a waiver may not been effective in preventing a lawsuit. Furthermore, it is the child’s own safety and welfare that is most important. Here are some tips that an owner or manager may want to implement at a pool, clubhouse, or playground:
1. Require adult supervision for all children under a certain age. I would suggest 12, 14, or even 16 as the age requirement.
2. Post signs, bulletins, and e mails to announce and implement the policy.
3. Enforce the rule with consistency. A rule with no enforcement is like having no rule at all.
4. Prevent or limit access to children unless the age requirements are met.
Pools should be supervised with more stringent standards. Barriers, pool fences, and locks should be used to prevent entry of young children into pool areas. When possible, a lifeguard should be posted at the pool.
The use of a liability waiver may not be an effective way to prevent a lawsuit or liability. Furthermore and more importantly, a liability waiver will not prevent a child from serious personal injuries or death. Implement reasonable rules and provide supervision when possible to help prevent injuries to children.