The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – A 6-year-old drowned at a St. Louis County summer camp swimming pool in July. In this week’s Legal Lens, Andrea McNairy, the managing attorney for Brown & Crouppen discusses the responsibility of pool owners.

What are the obligations of business-owned pool owners?

“Swimming pool owners and property owners have an obligation to make their properties safe,” said McNairy. “This also applies to commercially owned pools that are lifeguarded or non-lifeguarded. Sometimes, people think if you’re injured, and there is a swim at your own risk sign or no lifeguard on duty sign that the owner can’t be liable for any drowning issues or near drowning. There are industry standards and local regulations that property owners have to comply with. For instance, in the city, there has to be adequate water clarity, signage, drainage, and lifeguard equipment on site. If not, complying with an owner can be liable for danger with you for what an ordinary owner should have known.”

What kind of pools do you need a lifeguard for?

“It depends on where you live. In the county, if there is an enclosure that’s one pool or several pools, if that total square foot is 2,000 feet or more there needs to be a lifeguard,” said McNairy. “Then in the city, it’s 2,500 square feet.”

What are the obligations of private pool owners?

“The standard of liability is lower, but any property owner has a responsibility to refrain from doing anything negligent,” said McNairy. “Or they have to warn people who enter their property, including pools about any danger that they knew about, but their guests would not have known about. Also, depending on where you live there can be ordinances that you have to comply with. If you don’t, it can bring liability if there is an injury on your property. For instance, several jurisdictions require a fence to keep people or children from entering the pool.”