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When a Pool Party Ends in Tragedy: Rights of Family Members to Compensation

No one ever goes into the water knowing that they will drown. Unfortunately, however, about 10 people die each day from accidental drownings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And of these deaths, two are children aged 14 and younger. In fact, drowning is so common that it ranks as the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Sadly, these drowning accidents sometimes happen during events that are intended to be fun—like pool parties.

Blurred image of a swimming partyWhat Comes Into Play When a Pool Party Death Occurs?

Victims of loved ones who drowned at pool parties often feel like someone should be held accountable for their suffering and want to sue for wrongful death because of the drowning. And although this is sometimes appropriate, it isn’t always. The person who owns the pool isn’t always liable for a drowning death. The owner has to display certain types of negligence in order to be found responsible for a guest’s death. To determine whether or not the person was accountable, the law looks at something called “premises liability.” This is the term for the set of laws used to determine who—if anyone—is liable when a particular condition or use of a building, land, or other premises causes an injury or death. Because pools are located on pieces of property, what happens in them usually falls under the category of premises liability.   

The type of negligence that can be claimed depends on where the pool party actually took place. For instance, whether it was at a private home or community pool. The status of the person who drowned also plays a role in liability. The law takes into account whether the person who died was a trespasser, was invited to use the pool, or was authorized to swim in the body of the water. They are categorized as follows:

  • Invitee. Those who frequent pools that are open to the public, whether there is a fee to use the pool or it is free of charge, are considered “invitees.”
  • Licensee. These guests are invited to use a pool that is located on a person’s private property. For instance, if you were invited to a pool party at your friend’s home and the pool was located on your friend’s property, you would be considered a licensee.
  • Trespasser. Someone who was not authorized to be on the property where the pool is located, and in essence, “trespassed,” would be considered a trespasser. The law usually doesn’t hold pool owners responsible for any death that occurred as the result of trespassing, unless the trespasser was a child.

Determining If Negligence Occurred

The court will examine a variety of factors when determining if anyone is at fault when a drowning death during a pool party occurs. In general, pool owners have the responsibility to maintain the pool and keep it safe to prevent swimmers from hurting themselves. This means that if a faulty feature in the pool caused the drowning, then the pool owner could be held responsible. For instance, if a drain was broken and trapped a person causing him to drown, the pool owner could held liable.  Additionally, if the pool owner didn’t make it clear that the pool was too shallow for diving, and drowning occurs as a result of that omission, the court may find the owner responsible.

Furthermore, when safety equipment, like life preservers, isn’t provided in public pools, or lifeguards aren’t adequately trained or provide proper monitoring, the pool owners could also be held liable for the drowning.

Do You Have a Case?

You may feel that the owner of the pool in which your loved one died is responsible for the drowning, but only through the help of an attorney can you know for sure. The Wayne Wright law firm has helped many grieving loved ones in the Austin area determine if they have cases against the pool owners and we would like to help you, too. Call us today at 800-237-3334 to schedule an appointment to speak with someone about your situation.