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Holding a swimming pool/health club responsible for injury

Holding a swimming pool/health club responsible for injury

Most swimming pool accidents involve wet and slippery walk surfaces, such as the parameter of the pool and the locker rooms.

A swimming pool operator must maintain its walk surfaces in a reasonable manner to guard against falls. The fall risk is heightened because water is ever present, therefore the pool operator must take extra care.

The gym must use a flooring in the pool’s parameter and the locker rooms which is relatively slip resistant. There are industry standards as to floor safety for pools and locker rooms. Do not be fooled into thinking that nothing is wrong with the flooring because it is a new installation. Often, gyms and health clubs are built without regard to slip resistance and an acceptable and safe co-efficient of friction rating. (This is the engineering test regarding slip resistance for flooring.) Many times, the gym owner is guided by aesthetics and design considerations rather than customer safety.

Therefore, the pool operator should take extra care to make sure that the pool area and locker rooms are not unduly slippery. Often, we shall have to send an engineer to conduct an inspection and coefficient of friction test on the area, both wet and dry.

Of course, defendant will claim various defenses, such as plaintiff’s culpable conduct (e.g., the client’s own contributory negligence, running, not looking where she was going, etc.). However, absent proof of negligent conduct by the client (such as running in the pool area), an engineer’s findings of unreasonable slipperiness will be difficult to rebut.

As with all cases, early investigation is necessary for a successful case, such as the engineer’s inspection and photography, before the site is irrevocably changed.

Case Study

Joyce Carroll, a woman in her 50’s, went swimming in the Marriott Hotel pool. She slipped and fell on the tile walkway-parameter of the pool. She was not running. It was wet. As a result, she sustained a fractured hip.

Ms. Carroll’s attorney had a civil engineer visit the scene. He inspected the flooring with a coefficient of friction device both when the floor was dry and wet. He found that the floor was unduly slippery when not only wet but when dry. The engineer’s report brought about an excellent settlement.

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