- Both public and private pool owners have a responsibility to abide by specific safety requirements set by Georgia law.
- To seek a personal injury claim related to a pool injury, you must prove that the property owner’s negligence caused or led to the accident.
- Typically, the most challenging pool injury claims to win are against city-run pools, as they are protected under governmental immunity and the Georgia Recreational Property Act.
- A personal injury attorney can help you understand if you are likely eligible to receive compensation for any injuries sustained at a pool.
On a beautiful day in Georgia, there’s nothing quite like swimming in a pool or lying nearby in the warm sun. While most pool days are enjoyed without a hitch, the combination of deep water and slippery cement can sometimes be a recipe for disaster for unsuspecting visitors.
Unfortunately, pools can be dangerous and a source of injuries, from minor to severe or even fatal. Legal claims related to pool injuries are a unique form of personal injury cases. In these cases, the legal standard of plays a major role and can determine who is liable and at fault for the accident.
In the state of Georgia, pool injury legal claims fall under premises liability law, which requires the owners of real estate property to take specific measures to ensure the safety of any visitors.
Public and Private Liability Insurance Will Seek to Avoid Payment
Insurance companies are always looking to protect their bottom line and will do whatever they can to avoid paying injury claims in a pool injury case.
Pool injury cases are unique in that fault can be divided much more evenly. Injuries sustained at pools will often invite questions about who the negligent party was, and ultimately, who is liable.
No injury is too small to file a pool injury case. Even a simple broken bone can launch an investigation to determine if anyone was negligent, and therefore liable, to the injured party.
Understanding Negligence for Pool Injury Accidents
When it comes to determining negligence, how the accident occurred will be reviewed to see who is primarily at fault. For instance, if a minor is hurt in a pool injury accident, the child’s parents or guardians can be held liable for neglecting to monitor him or her. A victim might be personally negligent if they were participating in horseplay when the accident occurred. For example, not paying attention to a wet spot, running on the pool deck, or diving into no-diving areas are among the most common ways that horseplay can result in pool injuries.
On the other hand, if an individual slips because a pool ladder is not securely attached or suffers cuts on their feet because the bottom of the pool has broken tiles, then negligence can be pinned on the owner or operator of the premises.
Georgia law requires landowners to exercise specific duties of care for various visitors. These types of injuries can and should be prevented by proper maintenance and inspection from responsible landowners.
Public vs. Private Pools in Georgia – Why It Matters
According to Georgia law, all swimming pools, whether public or private, must follow specific safety regulations. For instance, all pools must be surrounded by a barrier or fence that conforms to specific requirements.
Because private pools are not open to the public, they are governed by a different set of standards, while public pools have more requirements under Georgia law.
If any of these safety measures have not been followed – at a private or public pool – the landowner can be held liable for resulting accidents.
Georgia Pool Codes That Impact Injury Legal Claims
The state of Georgia adopted the laws contained in the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code. This code is a model that regulates the requirements for the design, construction, and maintenance of swimming pools, spas, and other related facilities.
Georgia’s pool codes require viewable signage that alerts pool users of the many dangers around the pool. Pool signs and markings must indicate the following:
- No diving in shallow areas
- Depth markers
- No running on the deck
Failure to post the required viewable signage could be considered negligence on the part of the pool operator.
Public swimming pools are also required to comply with state sanitary guidelines, such as the requirement that the circulation equipment turns over the entire water capacity of the pool at a specified rate, not to exceed a total of six hours.
Pool codes and regulations seek to protect people from injuries and can help pool owners and operators avoid pool injury legal claims.
City-Operated Pool Injury Claims
Winning a pool injury claim against a city-operated pool is often the most difficult pool injury claim to win due to governmental immunity and the Georgia Recreational Property Act.
- Governmental immunity is a legal doctrine that prevents citizens from suing governmental officials and agencies in performing their governmental functions. A ruling in an important case in Georgia, Scott v. Millen, 153 Ga. App. 231 (1980) stated that the operation of public pools is primarily for public benefit as opposed to revenue, making it a governmental function. Because it is a governmental function, the city enjoys protection from negligence claims under governmental immunity.
- The Georgia Recreational Property Act states that an owner of a recreational property who invites or allows any person to use the property without charge for recreational purposes to be immune from suit.
If a city-operated pool has insurance coverage or there are private entities, such as a lifeguarding company, that can be sued for a pool injury claim, then you stand a better chance to recover for any injuries sustained.
HOA-Operated Community Pool
Homeowner’s Association (HOA)-operated pools are privately owned by the HOA entity itself or the owners within the HOA share ownership according to their agreements. However, if there are private entities that are employed by the HOA to maintain a safe and clean pool environment, those entities may be liable for any negligence resulting in pool injuries. HOA-operated community pool claims are often faced with the defense that pool users assume any risk when entering the pool to swim.
The Georgia Condominium Act requires HOAs to obtain a property insurance policy covering the premises dealing with damage or injury. A claim with the appropriate insurance company might be where you find success after suffering an injury at an HOA-operated pool.
Private Pool Injury Claims
Under Georgia law, swimming pools are considered an “attractive nuisance .” This term is used for any features (e.g., swimming pools or playground equipment) that are likely to entice people, and most often children, onto a property to enjoy using the feature.
Private pool owners must be extra careful in ensuring that children cannot access the pool entirely without an adult’s help. Measures such as a locked fence or pool cover can help a private pool owner avoid liability in dealing with a pool injury claim.
The Georgia Recreational Property Act makes it difficult to sue a private pool owner if the owner allows people to use the pool recreationally without charge.
Any negligence on the part of the homeowner will likely need to be proven in order to win a financial recovery. To do so, you will need to present evidence to show that the private pool owner failed to comply with a legal duty, which resulted in injuries. When dealing with a pool injury claim, a private pool owner can be covered by their homeowner’s insurance.
Evidence for Pool Injury Claims
The best evidence for a pool injury claim is often the testimony of eyewitnesses. Witnesses present when the pool injuries occurred can provide important information and details about what led to the accident and resulting injury.
911 call recordings and any police or medical reports that detail what happened are also very useful in a pool personal injury claim. Other evidence from pool areas can be difficult to obtain because it is likely to be washed away from the pool water or evaporate under the sun.
The more evidence you have to back up your pool injury claim, the greater chance you have at securing a financial recovery. Make sure to discuss your potential pool injury claim with an experienced attorney who can help you determine what your case may be worth.
Check with a Lawyer to See If Your Pool Injury Is Actionable
Not all pool injury cases are actionable. Your claim must meet certain criteria for you to be eligible to receive compensation for any injuries sustained at a pool.
It is always a good idea to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to help you fully understand your legal options in dealing with a pool injury case. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.