Is a Homeowner Liable When a Child Neighbor or Visitor Drowns in a Florida Swimming Pool?
In Florida, it is common to see swimming pools in most neighborhood. It is somewhat of a luxury to have a swimming pool right there in the back yard. Swimming pools can add to the aesthetics of the house and surrounding. Swimming pools can also provide for a great deal of fun and relaxation for adults and children alike. Unfortunate and tragically, swimming pools are also the site of horrible tragedies that despite laws, common sense, and the general knowledge of other similar tragedies continue to take place. It has been reported that Florida leads the nations in drowning for children under the age of 5 years old. Florida has ranked second in drownings the age group of 1 to 14 years old. Florida's weather allows for swimming almost year round. During Spring and Summer months, it is tragically predictable that additional drownings of small children will take place.
Florida has adopted a swimming pool act that applies to all homeowners with a swimming pool. There must be a barrier that is at least 4 feet high on the outside. There should not be any gaps, openings, or structural components that would allow a child to crawl or squeeze through the barrier or enclosure. You can read more about these regulations at Section 515.29, Florida Statutes - Residential Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements.
Can a homeowner be held liable or responsible with a child neighbor or child visitor drowns in the swimming pool in Florida? The answer to this question like most legal question is "It depends." If the homeowner failed to follow the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Act and these violations were the proximate cause of the drowning - then the homeowner may be held liable or responsible for the drowning.
In addition to the barrier requirement, there is a duty of supervision of a homeowner when there are neighbor children or visiting children to the home. This is especially true when there is any dangerous or potential dangerous hazards maintained or built on the premises including not limited to swimming pools, trampolines, playground equipment, swings, etc. . . . It should be noted that a homeowner or property in the State of Florida is not an absolute insurer for the safety of adults or children who visit the property. In other words, a homeowner is not necessarily liable just because a tragedy or injury takes place on the homeowner's property; however, a homeowner would be liable like in instances in which there was some kind of negligence or carelessness on the part of the homeowner that caused or significantly contributed to causing the injuries or death of the child neighbor or child visitor to the property. There are essentially four elements to establish as part of a negligence case for a drowning personal injury or wrongful death:
- Breach of Duty;
- Causation; and
David Wolf is a personal injury attorney based in Jacksonvile, Florida who handles personal injury and child injury cases throughout the State of Florida. He is the author of 7 books including the book titled - The ABCs of Child Injury - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - What Every Parent Should Know. This book has chapters on Swimming Pool - Water Park - and Aquatic Injuries, Playground Injuries, Theme Park and Amusement Park Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury. David Wolf is available days, nights, and weekends to his clients and prospective clients. Get D Wolf - On Your Side - At Your Side.