If you plan to install a pond in an apartment complex, or you already have one, it is important for property owners to consider the legalities and liability issues. A pond can be a liability, especially if the apartment complex is family-friendly and houses young children.
Ponds are an attraction to young children, who may or may not know how to swim and could face injury, or even death, if allowed to play near the pond unaccompanied by an adult supervisor. In addition, while trespassing is prohibited, ponds can fall under the attractive nuisance exception. If something on one's property is considered particularly attractive and dangerous to children, such as a pond, the property owner is liable for the safety of any child who comes into contact with the pond, including those who trespass.
Any property owner of an apartment complex with a pond must take safety precautions to dissuade any children from entering the pond unattended and potentially becoming injured or deceased.
Premises liability refers to a property owner's legal responsibility for any injuries that happen on their property due to slip and fall accidents. If an accident occurs as a result of inadequate safeguards, the property owner becomes liable for any injuries the person in question faces.
The individual who incurs the injuries may be legally entitled to compensation for medical expenses, work missed, and pain and suffering. If the accident led to the individual's death, family members may be entitled to compensation.
For a property owner to be legally responsible for injuries or death, as a result of slip and fall accidents on his or her property, one of three conditions must be met:
- The property owner caused the dangerous condition
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition but took no action
- The property owner should have known about the dangerous condition
How to Safeguard Against Premises Liability Cases
There are several steps any landlord or property owner can take to safeguard against facing a premises liability case. When it comes to ponds in apartment complexes, the following steps can be taken:
- Put up informative signs detailing pond rules and restrictions. The signs should inform individuals that children are not allowed to come within a certain number of feet of the pond without an adult supervisor.
- Another way to protect against accidents is to put up a fence or gate around the pond. The gate could have a code that is only available to adult residents of the apartment complex, or it could remain unlocked during certain times with a certified lifeguard supervising.
- Landlords should be certain to inform residents about the dangers of allowing children near the pond unattended. When new residents move into the apartment complex, a handout on child safety could be provided.
If an accident does occur on your property, be certain to take the proper legal steps to insure that you handle the matter appropriately and efficiently. Contact your lawyer before an accident occurs and arrange a meeting to discuss premises liability and the necessary steps to providing your residents with a safe, liability-free home.