A 2-year-old boy narrowly escaped death after he fell into an unattended above-ground swimming pool.
According to sheriff’s deputies, Noah Romero apparently wandered into the backyard, climbed the swimming pool ladder, and plunged into the water below. His mother pulled him from the water and immediately called 9-1-1, because he apparently was not breathing at the time. She promptly performed CPR and revived him. So, by the time first responders arrived, Mr. Romero was conscious, breathing, and responsive.
Although the boy was airlifted to an area hospital, he is expected to survive.
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Many of these incidents occur away from home, at public, semi-public (e.g. hotel and apartment complex pools), and private backyard pools. All these owners have a duty to make premises safe, and the precise nature of the duty depends on the reason the victim is on the premises.
- Trespasser: With a few exceptions, such as the one discussed at length below, landowners owe almost no legal duty to people who are on the premises without permission. Although they must refrain from intentional harm, there is no other duty of care, in most cases.
- Licensee: Many social guests are licensees. The owners have a duty to warn licensees about certain dangerous conditions, especially latent defects like loose floorboards or sinkholes.
- Invitee: All business guests, and most social guests, are invitees who are on the premises because of the owner’s express or implied invitation. In these cases, landowners have a duty to make the premises reasonably safe, and also a duty to inspect the property.
One major exception to the trespasser rule is the attractive nuisance doctrine, which basically says that if children are likely to play on the property because there is a swimming pool or other attraction that is potentially dangerous, the owner has a duty of care in these situations.
Proving Landowner Liability
For liability to attach, the owner must have actual or constructive knowledge (known or should have known) about the hazard. If constructive knowledge is an issue, which it often is, Anjou v. Boston Elevated Railway Company (1911) offers guidance. A woman slipped on a banana peel at a Boston railway station, and the owner claimed that it had no knowledge of the dangerous substance.
To resolve the situation, the court looked to the peel’s color.
- Yellow Peel: If the hazard only recently occurred or only recently became apparent, there is no constructive knowledge.
- Brown Peel: Sometimes, the plaintiff must show additional evidence of constructive knowledge; for example, another customer may have complained about a wet spot on the floor before the victim slipped and fell on it.
- Black Peel: If the hazard had been in place for quite some time, there is constructive knowledge and therefore the duty of care applies.
In Anjou, witnesses testified that the peel was black as if it had been walked upon a great deal, and that evidence was enough to sway the court in favor of the victim and award damages. These damages typically include compensation for both economic losses, like medical bills, and noneconomic losses, like pain and suffering.
Partner with an Aggressive Attorney
Owners are typically responsible for injuries that occur on their land. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.