Swimming Pools and the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

With summertime in Providence comes longer days and even hotter weather. For many homeowners in the area, a swimming pool provides the ultimate summer diversion. Yet there are a number of risks that come from owning a pool. Most pool owners will take every precaution to ensure that their immediate family members, especially their children, are well-versed in pool safety practices. This added precaution is not without reason; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 20 percent of all drowning victims are under the age of 14. However, outside of their own kids, how much thought to homeowners give to the danger that their pools pose to other children?

The prevailing thought among many peoples is that they are not at fault for injuries that others incur while trespassing on their properties. However, that is not always the case. The attractive nuisance doctrine could potentially hold them liable in certain scenarios. This legal philosophy, as shared by the Cornell University Law School, states that land and homeowners have a responsibility to eliminate the unique risks that their properties pose if they may be attractive to children. The underlying idea behind this principle is that children are often unable to appreciate the risk that potentially dangerous property conditions may pose. The risks inherent with pools may certainly be classified as such conditions.

Given the potential for liability, pool owners are expected to place an added emphasis on ensuring that their property is inaccessible to unsupervised access by children. This may include installing a fence around the pool or adding a pool cover. Toys and inflatables should also be stored away while not in use so as to not attract children near the pool. A failure to do so could be seen as a failure to ensure safety. 

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