Summer is a time for sun, fun, relaxation and vacations but, unfortunately, a time for tragic accidents in and around pools. Residential pool owners, hotels or motel owners with pools and municipalities that own and operate public pools may be liable for any accidents that may occur while a person is in the pool or in the immediate area. A pool injury lawyer should be consulted if you or a loved one suffered a pool-related injury.

There are over 150,000 accidents each year in slip and fall or premises liability incidents that are related to swimming pools. There are also over 3,500 fatal injuries that occur annually that are pool-related including drownings, many victims of whom are young children.

Pool accidents may be caused by the following factors:

  • Slippery surfaces
  • Poor pool design
  • Cloudy pool from poor maintenance obscuring depth
  • Failure to warn of shallow pool
  • Lack of required signage
  • Sharp edged pool covers
  • Drain cover that catches a foot
  • Faulty water slide
  • Electrocution
  • Lack of fencing or gate
  • No lifeguard at public pool or poorly trained ones
  • Lack of maintenance of pool area leading to falls
  • Lack of life saving equipment or broken equipment
  • No first aid kit or spinal support board at public or hotel pools
  • Water borne infections or recreational water illness from contaminated pools

Common accident injuries other than death by drowning are broken limbs, severe lacerations from sharp objects, head trauma, facial fractures, traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Premises Liability

The liability of private and business owners of pools rests on principles of premises liability and depends on the status of the owner. Possible defendants are residential owners, condominiums, resorts, apartment building owners, summer camps, municipalities and school districts. Your premises liability lawyer can ascertain the proper parties to whom your claim should be directed.

Business Owners

If a business owner, you invite people onto your property to buy goods or services. Regarding pools or resorts, owners charge people known as invitees fees to swim at their pool or they are hotel or motel guests who are allowed use of the pool. These owners owe a high standard of care to invitees and are legally obligated to routinely inspect the premises for hazards and to remove them or to warn invitees of the hazard. This includes regular maintenance of the pool and surrounding area and accessible lifesaving equipment. If there are lifeguards, then they must be certified.

Residential Owners

For residential owners of pools, guests are considered licensees. These owners do not have a duty to inspect for hazards or hidden dangers but are required to either repair or remedy a known hazard or to warn of dangers that are known but not obvious to the average person.

All pool owners are subject to local and state standards or regulations pertaining to pools including having locks on gates and fencing of a particular height. Hotel and public pools must have lifesaving equipment on hand and lifeguards at beaches and public pools are required to have certifications in rescue, first aid and CPR.

Municipal Liability

For city owned pools, the municipality also owes a duty of care to persons using the pool or who are on the city property. However, Massachusetts law prevents anyone from suing the city for recreational use of a pool if no fee is charged. If liability is imposed, the damages against a municipality are limited to $100,000. There are regulations regarding certification of lifeguards, signage and required equipment that must be on-site.


Every so often the news reports a child who wandered into a pool owned by the next door neighbor and drowned. Under Massachusetts law, a private home owner who maintains an artificial structure on the property has a duty to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger of young children wandering into the area where an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury exists. By not adequately fencing off the pool or otherwise preventing entry, the owner faces potential liability for any injury or fatality that occurs. This law exists since young children are not old enough to appreciate the harm or risk. This law is based on the attractive nuisance doctrine.

For older persons who trespass, the owner owes no duty of care other than to not intentionally harm anyone who comes on the property unlawfully.

Damages in a Pool Accident

Damages for injuries from falls including infections, spinal injuries or head injuries are compensable once liability on the part of the pool owner is established. Your damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future wage losses
  • Emotional trauma
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering

If you have a spouse, your spouse may have a claim for loss of consortium.

For wrongful death claims, the administrator for the decedent’s estate brings the action for the benefit of the immediate family. Damages may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of financial support to dependent family members
  • Loss of the love, counseling, guidance and support of the decedent
  • Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent

Contact premises liability attorney Paul Tetzel if you or a loved one suffered injuries from a swimming pool accident either in or around the pool area. He has been representing the interests of injured victims and their families in the greater Boston area and throughout Massachusetts for years and has obtained millions of dollars in compensation. Call his office today for a free analysis of your injury claim.