PoolsideIn Part 1 of this blog "Liability For a Swimming Pool", we described the duty of care owed to members of an association, their tenants and guests, and even to trespassers.  As a result, an association should take steps to minimize its liability for any death, injury or damage that occurs at a pool.  In this Part II, we list some steps that an Association can take to reduce its liability.  Please note, this list is not exhaustive:

  1. Review the supervision and safety requirements of the Department of Health.
  2. Check with your insurance carrier to confirm that there is adequate coverage in the event of death, injury, or damage.  In this litigious society, an association can never completely eliminate its risk of liability.  Therefore, the best line of defense is to make sure your association is properly insured.  Many associations “layer” insurance coverage with “umbrella” coverage on top of their general liability policies.  In this day and age, liability and protection in the three million ($3,000,000.00) to five million dollar ($5,000,000.00) range is not uncommon and Becker & Poliakoff has many clients who carry ten million dollars’ ($10,000,000.00) worth of coverage (and some who carry substantially more than that).  Some insurance companies also provide (often free of charge) “risk management” specialists who will come to view the premises and make recommendations to minimize liability.  You may wish to consult with your agent as to whether your current carrier or carriers provide such a service.
  3. Mount at least one lifesaving ring in a conspicuous place in the pool area.
  4. Check the gate to ensure that it self-locks to keep out unintended users of the pool.
  5. Make sure the ground around the pool is slip-proof.
  6. Check the pool equipment such as pool pumps to ensure they are operating properly.
  7. Make sure there are adequate water depth markers surrounding the pool.
  8. Enforce all pool rules and regulations fairly and consistently.
  9. Conduct maintenance checks regularly to ensure that the water has appropriate pH and chlorine levels.  Keep weekly or monthly logs of maintenance checks.
  10. Maintain the pool in good condition.  There have been incidences of persons contracting Legionnaire’s Disease from splash pools and hot tubs.
  11. Close the pool when appropriate (i.e., when there is equipment failure, when levels of chlorine are not within approved ranges, or during inclement weather conditions).
  12. Monitor the pool regularly.

In addition, it is important to note that a few years ago the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act went into effect.  This Act provided that by December 18, 2008, all public pools and spas, which included homeowner association and condominium association pools and spas, must have anti-entrapment measures installed with respect to pool and spa drains.  The replacement of grate/covers must have been completed by a Florida licensed pool contractor, and either the contractor or the Association were required to submit a statement signed by the contractor confirming compliance with the 2007 ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 standard and that the pool meets Florida requirements.  If your Association has failed to comply with this law, you should contact your attorney as soon as possible. (Source: Becker & Poliakoff)

Call us to get a free Florida homeowners or condo association liability quote at 772.287.3366.

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