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Understanding the Legal Risks of Private Pool Parties

Homeowners who have pools in their backyards are right to view their pools as great places for entertaining guests. A pool party is fun for everyone. At the same time, a pool always poses certain risks. In a party context, the danger of the pool can be made more significant. Homeowners who plan to hold pool parties should think about a few issues before the party starts.
  • Premises liability. By themselves, pools and their surrounding infrastructure (walkways, platforms, ladders, and so forth) implicate the legal principle of premises liability. A homeowner owes a visitor a general duty to keep the home and its surrounding property reasonably safe for the visitor. If the homeowner is aware of a dangerous condition, such as a damaged step that could cause cuts or trips, the homeowner needs to warn guests about the condition. Homeowners who plan to host parties should take a moment to make sure there are no hazards that could make the pool area unsafe.
  • Know your insurance coverage. Pool owners know that a pool makes a homeowner’s insurance policy more expensive. It’s important for the homeowner to know about the scope of coverage in the applicable insurance policy. If the policy contains specific limits, the party may need to be designed around those limits. Perhaps the policy will not cover injuries to children who are left unsupervised, or it won’t cover injuries suffered by people who have been drinking alcohol. Coverage limits may also be important to consider: a drowning could cost the homeowner a significantly greater sum than the default limits of the policy. For a party that’s usually large, such as a wedding, taking out special event insurance might be a good idea.
  • Alcohol and pools can be a bad mix. If a party will include drinking, there are a number of special risks that a pool can create. Pool decks can be slippery, and people who have been drinking may be more likely to slip and fall. A person who is especially drunk may have trouble swimming, or in rare cases may suffer a health crisis such as a heart attack. In some cases it may be appropriate to ask people who have been drinking heavily to not use the pool.
  • Supervise children. In a party setting it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in a pool. A child may get into trouble and not be seen until it’s too late. In circumstances where there are a lot of distractions it may be appropriate to designate someone to be an impromptu “life guard” or to ask the kids to get out of the pool.
Someone who is injured at a pool party probably has recourse to the homeowner’s insurance policy, and may need to sue the homeowner as well to recover full compensation for the injury. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Pool Lifeguards and Liability in Nevada

Lifeguards at pools are trained in various life-saving techniques so they can provide a rapid response in the event that a swimmer is injured in the pool. Like any trained safety professional, a lifeguard can make mistakes, sometimes with profoundly serious consequences for the person they are trying to save. In some cases a lifeguard may bear legal responsibility for his or her mistakes.

Nevada’s lifeguard requirements

To be employed as a lifeguard in Nevada one must first obtain a certification from one of several training programs in the state. The specific certification that is necessary to work in a venue is determined by the employer and local regulations. The certification programs all require applicants to demonstrate their strength as swimmers and mastery of basic first aid, including CPR. Some programs involve more training and tougher standards than others. For example, the American Lifeguard Association’s course covers detailed methods for rescuing people from water and has an especially high standard for swimming strength. Ongoing training is necessary to maintain a certification over time. In Las Vegas Section 4-302 of the Aquatic Facility Regulations of the Southern Nevada Health District require a lifeguard to be present during operating hours at pools that meet certain criteria. These criteria include:
  • Pools that allow unsupervised children under 14 years of age.
  • Any pool that will be used by a youth group.
  • Any pool that will be used for group athletic training or exercise programs.
  • Large pools (over 2000 square feet).
  • Pools with current, waterslides, diving boards.
  • Pools that charge an admission fee.

A lifeguard’s negligence

As certified professionals lifeguards owe a heightened duty of care to the people they supervise. In legal terms a lifeguard must take steps that a reasonable lifeguard would take under the circumstances to protect the safety of other swimmers. The “reasonable lifeguard” is a hypothetical person of similar experience and training, often constructed from testimony and objective professional standards. Significantly, a lifeguard has an affirmative obligation to help someone in trouble. A lifeguard or the lifeguard’s employer may be liable for injuries that a swimmer suffers under a range of circumstances. Here are a few:
  • The lifeguard fails to use his or her training to protect the swimmer from injury (for example, by failing to administer basic first aid to stabilize a broken limb).
  • The lifeguard was distracted and did not respond in a timely way to an emergency.
  • The employer hired someone who did not have the necessary certification.

Talk to a personal injury attorney about pool accidents

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by a lifeguard’s negligence we are happy to discuss your legal options with you. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.