“Pool hopping” is an increasingly popular trend among teenagers. It refers to teens trespassing and gaining access to public and private swimming pools. However, this summer trend can easily cause injuries to the trespassing teens. In one such case, a teen jumped into a swimming pool, unaware that it had been drained for maintenance. This pool hopping incident resulted in significant injuries to her, and a misdemeanor charge of trespassing.
Pool hopping is considered trespassing, since it is gaining access to the property of another without permission. Liability in trespass cases such as this is determined by whether the homeowner had reason to know that trespassers were likely. If the homeowner knew that it was likely that individuals would trespass onto their property, they have a duty to protect against known dangers. In the case above, it is unlikely that the homeowner will be held responsible, since he had taken the precautions of fencing and locking the pool. So remember, if you have a pool or other potentially dangerous item on your property, protect yourself from liability by keeping others out.
Smaller children, those unable to comprehend potential dangers of swimming pools and the like, create another issue. These cases are called “attractive nuisance” cases, wherein children are drawn to certain dangers, such as swimming pools, without understanding the danger involved. Property owners can be held liable for injuries sustained by such children, when they have an attractive nuisance on their property and do not protect the children from it. However, the teens involved pool hopping incidents will not be able to claim they were drawn to an attractive nuisance, as they have the capacity to understand the dangers involved.
The important take-away for landowners is to make sure precautions are taken to keep trespassers out of your property, especially if it would be attractive to children.
Lance D. Youd is a lawyer from Salem, Oregon.