According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four and of unintentional injury fatalities of those between one and 14. The organization further reports that approximately 8,080 non-deadly drowning accidents occur in the U.S. each year.
Did you know though that under New Jersey premises liability law, you may be legally responsible if children injure themselves in your pool?
The “attractive nuisance” doctrine
This holds that since children have a natural attraction to certain temptations such as playgrounds, construction sites and swimming pools, there is an expectation that they may trespass to reach them. Even if you are not negligent and do not invite the youths, if one of them sustains injuries in your pool, the law may consider you liable if you do not take steps to prevent the possible intrusion and accidents.
Potential ways to protect yourself
To shield yourself from repercussions, you need to be able to show that you took action to anticipate young individuals sneaking onto your land to use your pool and possibly suffering harm. This includes installing a fence of at least five feet height that has no openings of greater width than four inches (a requirement under New Jersey regulations). Other helpful actions are putting on a pool cover when the pool is not in use, maintaining and repairing your pool and placing warning signs in a visible area. If the individuals trespassing are old enough, a possible defense is claiming that they possess sufficient maturity to own the risk they assumed when entering your pool.
Taking precautions to make your pool safe and meet requirements may minimize the chances of someone filing a premises liability claim against you.