Community pools will no longer have to worry about liability claims arising from the ongoing health crisis, thanks to recent efforts from North Carolina lawmakers. Governor Roy Cooper recently signed into law House Bill 902, which along with House Bill 118 provides immediate liability protection against lawsuits related to alleged contraction of the disease.
While HB118 shields in general all “persons” in North Carolina from claims, Part VI of HB902 is directed toward protection for owners and operators of pools, including multifamily community pools. The exceptions to immunity to liability are for claims for injury or death due to gross negligence, wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing.
Provisions of the new law
Entities that are shielded from liability claims include:
- a privately owned community pool owned or operated by a condominium owners association, a homeowners association or an apartment complex
- owners and operators of community pools or their agents
The law provides immunity from claims seeking damages for injury or death as a result of transmission of the new virus while on the premises or from the reopening of the community pool in accordance with applicable executive order of the Governor. This law applies to claims on or after the date that it becomes law.
Guidelines for public pools and spas
In December of 2020, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued interim guidance for public pools and spas to implement a plan to minimize the risk of exposure and spread of the virus. These guidelines detail procedures for limiting exposure, including:
- social distancing
- cloth face coverings
- cleaning surfaces and hygiene
- monitoring for symptoms
- vulnerable populations
- water and ventilation systems
Negligence in North Carolina
North Carolina law operates under the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars the plaintiff from receiving compensation if they are partially to blame for the injury. In order for an injured party to recover damages in a negligence suit, they must prove that the defendant was completely at fault for the injury.
If you have been injured in a swimming pool accident caused by unsafe facilities, lack of proper supervision, improper maintenance or defective equipment, it is possible to pursue a negligence claim against the property owner or operator. But it is critically important to have the help of an experienced premises liability attorney to work to recover the compensation you deserve.