Pool Owner Responsibility Following Hurricane IrmaNovember 2, 2017 | Category: Swimming Accidents | Share
Hurricane Irma left her mark on Southwest Florida. Many residential homeowners with pools were left with damaged pool cages, broken fences around pools and exposed pool areas.
Can homeowners be held liable for not erecting a temporary barrier after damage to the pool barrier?
Homeowners' liability for neglecting to erect a temporary barrier to an exposed pool after damage to the cage or screen falls under state or local jurisdiction, and the rules vary from state to state, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Florida counties enforce the state building codes which require residential pools and outdoor pools to have barriers for safety. Homeowners who have pool enclosures which were damaged by Hurricane Irma must install temporary barriers immediately.
According to a recent Naples Daily News article, a homeowner can erect a temporary contractor safety mesh around the pool until long-term repairs can be made. Should a pool be empty, it still represents a safety risk and must have a barrier in place.
City and county governments are enforcing code violations
Just hours after Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County was ticketing residents for building code violations on their wrecked properties. According to WSVN, the county handed out 680 safety notices for downed pool barriers. According to the county, the “tickets” were really just safety notices, which are neither a notice of violation warning nor a citation, so there is no fine attached. The safety notices given to property owners identify the hazard, steps that should be taken to correct the hazard, and who to contact for additional information.
The City of Edgewood, Florida notified all property owners with swimming pools that they are the responsible parties for properly enclosing and maintaining their pools including maintaining the quality of the water supply. The City will cite property owners who do not have proper fencing or screens around their pools, according to the Edgewood, Florida government website.
The Naples Herald reported that the leading cause of death of children under the age of 5 in Florida is drowning. In fact, in 2016, 71 children died in Florida as the result of drowning. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that 87 percent of children who drown do so in residential pools.
Florida’s Residential Pool Safety Act
Residential pool owners have a potential for liability for an accident or death at their pool even if the person involved in the accident did not have permission to use the pool. Florida has specific regulations under the Residential Pool Safety Act to reduce the number of children who drown. This act was passed in 2009. According to the law, residential pool barriers must:
- Be at least 4 feet high on the outside.
- Not have any gaps, openings, indentations, protrusions, or other components that could allow a young child to penetrate the barrier.
- Be situated around the perimeter of the pool and be separate from any enclosure used to surround the yard (unless the yard enclosure meets the pool barrier requirements described here).
- Be located far enough away from the water’s edge (at least 20 inches) so that if a young child or elderly person penetrates the barrier they do not immediately fall into the water.
- Not be located so that a permanent structure may be used to climb the barrier.
- Use gates (if any) that open away from the pool, are self-closing, and have a self-latching lock whose release mechanism is located on the pool side of the gate and cannot be reached by a young child through an opening in the fence.
“Should you or a loved one be injured because a pool barrier was not in place, please contact our experienced team of attorneys. There are no costs or attorney fees unless we make a monetary recovery for you,” said Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney, Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.