Owning a pool/spa comes with a number of liabilities. You must not only worry about your immediate family but those you invite to swim. What can be done to reduce liability exposure with “slip and fall” incidents?
Regardless of a pool/spa size or depth, always have excess insurance coverage to sit over your primary homeowners liability insurance. Slip-and-falls account for more than 1 million emergency room visits every year and cost billions of dollars annually, often leading to a higher insurance premiums for the property owner responsible for the area where a fall occurs.
There has been a recent trend in large jury verdicts related to pool usage causing significant injuries. For this reason, excess insurance limits are advisable. Most slips, trips, and falls are preventable, making proactive safety measures important.
Beyond ensuring appropriate levels of insurance coverage, better understanding the risks and implementing adequate safety measures would include these measures:
SLIP and FRICTION LEVELS:
Know the proper friction coefficient for your deck, wet stairs, and other walkable surfaces in the pool/spa and pool/spa area. Test the friction level and, if it’s too low, hire an expert to adjust it. Additionally, ensure appropriate matting is in place in the proper areas.
Cautioning family and guests to walk and not run around the pool and advising them to wear proper footwear in the designated area is helpful.
Schedule and maintain records of regular safety checks. Look for pool toys or obstructions in walkways and other high traffic areas around the pool/spa. Clean any slippery algae off surfaces. Document all safety check efforts and cleaning processes.
Regularly examine the decking and areas around the pool/spa. Any changes in height or elevation of decking should be clearly marked and corrected when necessary.
Pool/Spa safety, including efforts to reduce slip-and-fall risks, will be an ongoing issue once you own a pool/spa. Vigilance and attention to detail are critical to keep your pool/spa area safe and limit your liability exposure.