For those that don’t remember, we’re going to start with a real case that was all over the news. You may have even heard about it at the time. We’re doing this to make some general points about the risks all pool owners face. Being rich and fabulous won’t save you from an improperly maintained or managed pool. It sure didn’t help Demi Moore.
Swimming Pool Lawsuit Storytime: What Happened to Demi Moore
Demi Moore’s assistant had a pool party in 2015 at Demi Moore’s California home where alcohol was served. Somebody drowned. It was an unfortunate accident and Demi Moore, who wasn’t even at the party, was quickly swimming in litigation. It sounds so ridiculous it could be the plot of one of Demi’s erotica thrillers.
There are carefully outlined state safety regulations that you have to comply with if you don’t want to end up on the witness stand with Tom Cruise screaming at you. In most states you are responsible for keeping your pool reasonably safe.
It doesn’t matter that it was Demi’s assistant who held the party. Demi owns the pool. Demi is responsible.
Understanding How Swimming Pool Lawsuits Happen
There are two ways you can be considered too lazy, cheap or careless to own a pool under the law:
- Violate a local pool safety law. In this case, you’re strictly liable, like Demi Moore.
The solution here is simple. Bring your death trap up to code. Find out what the law is and comply. Build a fence and put on a pool cover. These are the basics.
2. The second way in which you can be held liable for you pool is if it is deemed “unsafe”. This is trickier.
Broken fences, rusty nails, lack of depth markings, and more can make a pool unsafe. Once again, this varies, but I’m sure through the use of the computer you are using to watch this video, you can figure out your local regulations. Better yet, contact an attorney to help you understand them.
Here’s another issue, and this one is key. If you party by your pool and your friends enjoy drinking cocktails, you may want to consider hiring a lifeguard for the afternoon. Preferably a sober lifeguard.
It’s a small expense that may keep somebody alive. If the conditions at the party are deemed unsafe (SEE: Rooftop cannonball championships) you might be on the hook. Remember, like Demi, you might be liable even if you are not at the party so be sure that there are safety measures in play. It’s the summer time, so party hard. Just don’t end up paying for it.
In short, if you own the pool, you are responsible for its compliance with safety regulations. Landlords must keep this in mind when considering tenants. But you also have to make sure that everything you own is up to those same safety standards. Sorry fellas, but it’s not all collecting rent checks. Even trespassers can hold you liable if they get hurt in your unsafe pool.
How to Prevent Swimming Pool Lawsuits
Here’s a short summary of what you need to do if you want to avoid fishing dead bodies out of your pool and the costly lawsuits that come with it.
1. Comply with all safety requirements for your city and state. If you can’t afford them, you can’t afford a pool. But you’re a good little saver. Maybe next year.
2. Include a clause or separate pool disclosure and waiver. This is a tip for landlords or inestors with rental property. Taking a few minutes to do this could save your ass in court. That way if some fool wants to work on his swan dive after his tenth martini, he’s already assumed the liability at least in part. Your waiver should include the following:
- Tenants use the pool at their own risk.
- Children and tenants who cannot swim must be supervised.
This should be a no-brainer for parents of small children, but lets not forget that Darwin’s theories make provisions for the unfit. Unfortunately you still have to pay for the mistakes of the less evolved if they end up floating in your pool.
- Tenant is responsible for the safety and maintenance of the pool equipment. Make it clear that they are required to inform you of any safety or repair issues the moment they arise.
- If the tenant is having guests, make them responsible for supervising the pool at all times. Demi Moore can afford a lifeguard, but just a sober person will do.Some other actions you can take to protect yourself are:
- Insure the pool. Tell your insurance agent about it. If they won’t grant you insurance, close the pool and get it up to their standards. Yes, it sucks paying for insurance. It sucks more losing your investment.
- Own your property under an LLC.
- Develop a comprehensive asset protection strategy that includes the property with a pool. Ask your attorney what actions you can take to ensure compliance with local law.
Asset Protection with Royal Legal Solutions Can Keep You Above Water
Losing your investment, as noted above, is terrible. Losing your house is much worse. When it comes to owning a pool, be PROACTIVE with your liability before you have to be REACTIVE to a lawsuit.
Yes, there is work, responsibility and expense here, but you need to own a pair of big boy trunks before you go swimming in liability. Royal Legal Solutions can help you address legal matters relating to your pool and construct an asset protection plan that keeps you out of court. If you would like advice on how to navigate this issue or begin protecting your assets like the pros, send us a message or schedule your consultation today.