Many homeowners throughout the state of New York install pools on their properties to enjoy during the warmer summer months. Unfortunately, pools are not all fun and games: An alarming number of Americans, particularly children, suffer injuries in pools each year. Consequently, state law requires homeowners to take proactive steps to secure and maintain their pools.
In New York, a swimming pool is considered any structure that is intended for swimming or bathing. The structure must be designed to contain water over 24 inches deep. In-ground, on-ground, and above-ground structured are considered “pools” under the law, including hot tubs and wading pools. This is an important distinction, as some states do not aggressively regulate above-ground structures.
Below, we review several of the most prominent rules surrounding private pools in New York. If a homeowner fails to follow one of these rules, they may be liable for any accident that occurs in their pool. If you or someone you love was injured in a private swimming pool, you should discuss these laws with a legal professional to determine whether you may be entitled to compensation.
Pool Alarm Requirements in New York
Most swimming pools constructed or “substantially modified” after December 14, 2006, must be protected by an adequate pool alarm system. This alarm must be able to detect a child entering the pool and produce an audible warning when this occurs. The system must operate independently from an individual, and the warning must be loud enough to be heard in the pool area and at least one other location on the premises.
Multiple alarm systems may be necessary for larger pools. The alarm must be triggered if a child enters the water from any area of the pool.
Hot tubs and spas with sufficient safety covers do not need a separate alarm system. Swimming pools with automatic safety covers are also exempt from this requirement.
The pool’s owner is also responsible for maintaining the alarm system to ensure it is in working order at all times. If someone suffers an injury in a private pool and an adequate alarm system was not in place, the owner may be liable for damages.
Pool Barrier Requirements in New York
All outdoor swimming pools must be secured by a barrier from all sides. This barrier must be at least 48 inches in height.
Adjoining building walls can serve a portion of the pool’s barrier. However, if the adjoining building is a dwelling (such as a house), at least one of several additional requirements must be satisfied. The private homeowner must equip any door leading to the swimming pool with an alarm, equip the pool itself with a powered safety cover, or use another state-approved security tool.
The structure of an above-ground pool can serve as part of the required barrier if the structure sufficiently obstructs access to the water. If the above-ground pool is accessible via steps or a ladder, these access points must be removed or secured when the pool is not being supervised. The barrier also should not be climbable.
More specific barrier rules will apply depending on where the private pool is located. A legal professional can review these requirements and whether they are relevant to your personal injury case.
Other Types of Private Pool Owner Negligence in New York
In general, a private homeowner must maintain safe premises on their property – including in the area around their swimming pool. This means the homeowner is responsible for maintaining pool surfaces, pool water, any attachments (such as ladders and diving boards), and all other related elements. A private homeowner may also be liable if they fail to warn swimmers of the depth of the pool or any slick surfaces in the area.
These legal obligations exist if you are an invited guest on private property. If someone trespasses and the pool is properly secured, a private homeowner may not be liable if they are injured in or near their pool.
Injured in a Private New York Swimming Pool? Explore Your Recovery Options Today.
Many swimming pool accidents occur when a child wanders into an unsecured private pool area and suffers injuries after entering the water. The frequency of these incidents is why pool alarm and barrier rules were put in place, even for private homeowners.
If your child managed to access a homeowner’s private pool, there is a good chance something went wrong. If there is evidence the homeowner negligently failed to secure their pool, you may have a personal injury claim. Similarly, if you were invited to swim on private property but the homeowner failed to maintain a safe pool area, you may be able to recover damages.
Swimming pool accidents generally fall under premises liability law, and you will only have a limited time to take legal action. In most cases, you will only have three years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim. If an accident results in death, you will have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
Keep in mind that you will not be directly suing the private homeowner. You will instead be suing the pool owner’s insurance company, who will be responsible for compensating you if you settle or win.
Our skilled attorneys at Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices can help you explore your legal options after a swimming pool accident. We will carefully review what happened and determine if a private homeowner broke state laws or otherwise acted negligently.
Depending on the circumstances, a successful swimming pool lawsuit can help you recover compensation for:
- Current and future medical bills
- Reduced earning capacity
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Our lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Discuss your case today by calling (718) 690-3132 or contacting us online.