The Responsibilities of Pool Owners in New York
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 10 people die every day in swimming pool accidents in the United States. One of the principal causes leading to swimming pool fatalities is the failure of pool owners to either provide or maintain proper barriers or security devices. This failure may include inadequate fencing around a pool, broken or defective latches on a pool gate or improper safety warnings.
The Legal Obligations of Pool Owners
Under New York law, any swimming pool constructed after March 30, 1988, must be enclosed with a fence or other barrier. The fence or barrier must be at least 4 feet high, and the pool must have gates or doors that are both self-closing and self-latching. The handle or knob that must be turned to obtain access to the pool must be at least 40 inches above the grade. When the pool is without supervision, the gate or door must be locked so that access to the pool is denied. If the pool was constructed before the date specified above, it must not have any opening in the fence that exceeds 4 inches.
In addition to the specific rules set forth in New York’s statute governing pool fencing, the owner of a pool has duties that fall under the concept of premises liability. The legal doctrine of premises liability states that the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to maintain the property so as to minimize the risk of injury to visitors (those legally on the property; trespassers are generally excluded). As such, the landowner must either take reasonable steps to repair any known dangers or to warn others of those potential dangers.
With respect to a pool, this may require that a pool owner:
- Notify potential users of the depth (or lack of depth) in all areas of the pool
- Provide safety equipment, such as flotation devices, life jackets and similar items
- Post a sign that identifies the maximum number of people who can use the pool, the times the pool is open, when a lifeguard will be posted and that pool use is prohibited during specific times
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Firm founder Kenneth A. Pryor is a member of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mr. Pryor is an experienced trial lawyer who teaches trial skills as an adjunct law school professor. Our firm can provide the knowledgeable and experienced legal representation you need.