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Examining swimming pool owner liability

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While spring serves as a sign of warmer weather and summer fun being on the horizon around the rest of the country, West Covina residents enjoy such activities all throughout the year thanks to California’s climate. One diversion that many associate with warmer months is swimming. Indeed, California is known for its large number of private swimming pools. Yet with pool ownership also comes the responsibility to keep people (particularly children) safe from the risks that pools present.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an average of over 3,500 drowning deaths per year in the U.S. Of the victims of these accidents, one in five is typically under the age of 14. Children often have difficulty comprehending just how dangerous swimming pools can be. To them, they simply represent summertime fun. That is why it is imperative that adult pool owners do all they can to protect kids from accidents.

Many may ask if liability comes into play in cases where a child drowns in a pool without the owner knowing that he or she is there. If the owner did not invite the child to use the pool, one may argue that he or she cannot be held liable in such an event. The attractive nuisance doctrine says otherwise. This legal principle (as shared by the Legal Information Institute) states that property owners whose land features a dangerous condition that may attract children (such as a swimming pool) can be held liable for accidents that condition causes. The reasoning behind this doctrine is that children may not have the judgment to appreciate the risk that the condition presents.

To avoid liability under the attractive nuisance doctrine, pool owners need to make their pools inaccessible to trespassing children by putting up a fence or other safety feature. 

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