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Injured in a swimming pool incident

There is no denying that Australia has some of the best coastlines in the world. Despite this, many Australians also seek out the opportunity to dip their toes into public and backyard pools to cool down.

With the recent launch of the Swimply App in Australia (active across Victoria, NSW and Queensland), homeowners are now able to hire out their pool to those that do not have one of their own. Great in theory, but what are some implications that may come from opening-up your pool to strangers? And what happens if I do attend someone’s private pool and something goes wrong, what rights do I have?

What the facts and figures say about water safety

The National Drowning Report 2019, as published by Royal Life Saving Australia, reports that 276 people lost their lives to drowning and it’s estimated that a further 584 people experienced a non-fatal drowning incident.

The latest figures show that during the same period as last year, there has been an increase of ten percent. 81% of drowning deaths were males and there was a 30% reduction in 0-4 years age group compared with the 10-year average.

These facts and figures should never detract from the fact that water can be a danger and we shouldn’t become complacent to the dangers of water.

How can you ensure your safety and that of your loved ones around pools and other water activities this summer?

Pool safety tips

  • Supervision of children at all times
  • Ensure children are at least familiar with water and know water safety – better yet, ensure they know how to swim
  • Don’t be under the influence of drugs or alcohol in and around the water
  • Ensure you always swim between the flags at Australian beaches

Pool safety tips to avoid serious swimming pool injuries

  • Is your pool adequately fenced and maintained? As a pool owner the onus is on you to ensure your pool meets all safety standards in the state you live. Find out about pool safety laws in your state.
  • Ensure the area in and around your pool is well-maintained and there are no slip or trip obstacles around.
  • Ensure there are no climbable objects in an around the pool area, particularly near the fence or gate.
  • Make sure the pool filter and suction fittings or grates are securely covered and people can’t fall into them.
  • Keep all chemicals locked up and keep them out of reach to avoid ingestion and or burns.

Public liability and private properties

We all know the dangers that can come from having water around the place, from slips, trips and falls to possible drownings and other accidents. As a property owner, you have a duty of care to keep everyone safe. If you are found to be negligent you could be liable for damages.

Am I covered if something happens to me?

Many people may assume that the public liability cover attached to their home and contents insurance policy will cover them for all circumstances in which someone is injured on their property. However, this may not always be the case.

It is important to ensure that you have made full disclosure to your home and contents insurer about any commercial activity that may take place on your property and specifically seek to understand and confirm that you’re covered for those activities, this would include situations where you rent out your private pool.

When you’re inviting people onto your property to use your pool and charging a fee for this, it’s likely that there would be a heightened duty of care on you to ensure the safety of those persons who are paying you a fee, in comparison for example to the duty of care owed to a family member or friend who is using the pool during a weekend visit.

Public versus private pools

This also raises a number of unique questions about what exactly the obligation would be of the owner of the property, is it the same as someone who operates a commercial pool? For example, is it the owner’s responsibility to ensure adequate supervision if there are children who are part of the attendees who rent the pool?

Have you been injured at a pool?

If you are planning on using the Swimply app and renting a pool from someone for the day, it would be wise to check what insurance the owners have with respect to potential injury or even property damage (yours or theirs).

If you have been injured at a pool you may have the right to claim for compensation due to the negligence of the pool owners or operators. Typically, you could make a claim for things like:

  • Medical and hospital expenses
  • Loss of earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Home help you have received (paid or unpaid).

Shine Lawyers - Your local legal experts

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury due to someone's negligence, you may have a claim for compensation. One of our Public Liabitly claims experts can assess your case, inform you of all your available options. Get in touch today for more information on how Shine Lawyers can right wrong.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 29, 2019.

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