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What if the temptation of your neighbor's pool leads to tragedy?

Summer is here, and the cool water of your neighbor's swimming pool looks so inviting. However, you may have safety concerns because it seems easily accessible and you have young children. What will happen if they are tempted to sneak out and go for an unsupervised swim when nobody is at home next door?

If anything should happen at a swimming pool on private property, the owners could be liable for injuries or a drowning. This could apply even if the visitors were uninvited.

Liability concerns

Owning a private pool is a significant responsibility, and your neighbors must comply with certain safety rules. Their duty will be to prevent harm to avoid facing negligence charges. Pool owners are liable for anything that happens at their swimming pools, regardless of whether anybody is there to supervise swimmers. For that reason, access to an owner's pool by strangers, neighbors or any other person without the owner's presence must be impossible.

Simply posting a warning sign that tells people they swim at their own risk is not sufficient, as those who are most vulnerable may not yet be able to read the warning. Such a sign may not be enough to prevent a lawsuit -- even when the unfortunate incident involves uninvited trespassers. When the owners are present, they must ensure proper supervision for children and monitoring of any adult guest's alcohol consumption. Fences must be high enough to keep kids out, and locked gates must prevent any small children from entering.

Attractive nuisance

Did you know there is a concept in the law that acknowledges the fact that small children can be tempted? This is called attractive nuisance that makes pool owners responsible if kids can enter a dangerous area that attracts them through temptation. If a child should get hurt -- or even drown -- under such circumstances, the pool owners may be liable for damages.

Pool owners must keep in mind that even shallow water can cause a child to drown, and that time at the start of the season when the pool is not quite full can still cause death. Other hazards that could lead to injuries in the pool area include chemicals and electrical hazards. So, the responsibility does not stop with high fences and locked gates.

Your rights to pursue recovery

If your child has suffered an injury at a swimming pool on your neighbor's (or anybody else's) property, you are entitled to hold the owner liable for damages. Proving negligence might be a challenge that will likely be best achieved by an experienced personal injury attorney. While it is impossible to undo a tragedy, a monetary judgment to cover medical or end-of-life expenses may ease the financial burden.

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