Swimming Pool Safety and Occupier’s Liability
The swimming season is coming to an end. Pool owners are packing up their solar blankets and pool noodles. As the swimming season ends, it is worth reflecting to consider whether you are taking the proper steps to protect yourself from potential liability in respect to your swimming pool.
Property owners and occupiers are responsible for ensuring that people using their property are not exposed to unreasonable risks. There is a piece of legislation in Ontario called the Occupiers’ Liability Act. This statute places a duty on property owners and occupiers to take reasonable steps to ensure that people using their property are kept safe.
Swimming pools can be dangerous if they are not used properly. Many above ground pools (and some in-ground) are only four to five feet deep. These pools were never designed for diving. Diving in such a shallow pool can result in devastating spinal cord injuries.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act requires that property owners and occupiers keep their premises safe. For swimming pools, this means that decks and patios surrounding them should be free from tripping hazards. Adequate lighting must be in place for night swimming. Diving boards and slides must be installed in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and only in pools with adequate depth.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act also requires that owners take reasonable steps to ensure that activity on their premise is safe. Swimming pool rules are essential to keeping people safe in your pool. Communicating these rules to your guests is essential to protecting yourself from liability. “Shallow water” and “no diving” signs are helpful to keeping guests safe. However, it is also important to monitor swimming activity to ensure that your guests and their children are following the rules of the pool.
While swimming pool rules are helpful, they certainly won’t guarantee that you won’t be liable if someone suffers a serious injury in your swimming pool. It is therefore important to protect yourself with adequate liability insurance coverage. Your insurance broker will advise you concerning reasonable insurance limits for your homeowner or tenant insurance policy.
We have acted for people who have sustained serious spinal cord injuries who have been injured in swimming pool incidents. These claims are worth millions of dollars, so generous insurance limits are essential to protecting yourself from personal liability. When large claims like these materialize insurance is well worth the premium.
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