Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Proper Standard of Care: What Can a Public Pool Operator Be Held Liable For?

January 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( There are plenty of parents and babysitters that take their young charges to the public pool in the neighbourhood for a few hours of splashing around on a hot summer day. However, few of these caretakers probably think about who will be held liable if there is an accident or some other calamity that takes place in or around the pool. The question of what a public pool operator can be held liable for is not a simple one, and it is going to depend a great deal on certain mitigating factors. Here’s a brief overview of what you need to know.

In the Case of a Drowning

Likely the worst thing that might happen in a public pool is drowning, as is the case with any body of water. But is the operator of the pool responsible if that happens? One of the questions that must be answered in that scenario is if a lifeguard was on duty. If they were not, and there were signs indicating that was the case, then probably the pool would not be open.

If it was, and there was no lifeguard, then there should be posted signs saying that anyone who goes in swimming is responsible for their own safety. You often see those signs at hotel pools as well as those in residential neighbourhoods. If there is a lifeguard, and they do everything in their power to save the person who’s drowning, but they still fail to do so, it’s not likely that the pool operator will be held liable because both they and the lifeguard did their due diligence.


The same holds true for injuries. If someone is injured in or around the pool, if that person was disobeying one of the rules that were posted, then the owner or operator is not likely to face charges, or if they do, they will probably get off. It is always possible, though, that the lawyer for the person who was injured will attempt to argue that the pool’s operator was negligent because they left some equipment out where someone might trip over it, for instance. If this happens, then the defence lawyer may have to try and argue that the standard of care for the pool was met, and the injured party was at fault for not paying better attention.


If there is a contagious illness that is contracted by several people who visited the pool, then those who were struck by it may band together to form a class action lawsuit. Again, the question will become whether the pool’s operator could have done anything that would have resulted in a different outcome than what happened. If it can be determined that a standard of cleanliness for the pool was the issue, and the operator failed to meet it, then the plaintiffs winning their case is not out of the question.

Those who have been injured at a public pool or have fallen sick after visiting one might choose to contact Hupy and Abraham or another lawyer’s office to see if they have a case. These situations are rarely easy to decipher, which is why legal help is recommended if any of the eventualities that we have discussed take place.

Staff Writer; Shelia Wall

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