Drowning accidents can occur in a variety of locations, from backyard pools to lakes and oceans. Property owners have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent drowning incidents. Warning signs play a crucial role in cautioning people about potential water hazards. When inadequate signage contributes to a drowning, it raises questions of legal liability.

Duty to Warn of Hazards

Property owners must warn people of hidden dangers on their premises. For pools, hot tubs, beaches, docks and other sites, warning signs serve as visible notice of the risk. If the owner fails to post signs at an undisclosed hazard, it constitutes negligence. The lack of signs indicates the owner breached their duty of care to safeguard visitors.

Adequacy of Posted Signs

Warning signs only satisfy the duty to warn if they sufficiently alert people to the danger. The signs must be:

  • Clearly visible and readable
  • Placed at proper locations
  • Maintained in good condition
  • Contain clear wording of the hazard

For example, a small “No Swimming” sign obscured by foliage would likely be inadequate. An owner must erect signing that meets reasonable standards for visibility, legibility, and clarity.

Causation in Drowning Incidents

In a drowning caused by absent or poor warning signs, the victim must also prove causation. The lack of adequate signs must directly lead to the accident for liability. The victim needs evidence showing they would have avoided the hazard if properly warned.

Without proof of causation, the owner may avoid liability by arguing the victim would have ignored any warnings. Eyewitness testimony, expert analysis, and other evidence can demonstrate causation.

Defenses in Inadequate Sign Lawsuits

When warning signs are lacking or deficient, property owners raise several possible defenses:

  • Open and Obvious Danger – If a hazard is overtly apparent, it may negate the need for signs. Courts vary on what constitutes an open and obvious risk.
  • Assumption of Risk – By choosing to swim despite the lack of warnings, the victim may have assumed the risk and cannot sue. Plaintiffs can argue no assumption exists because of the missing signs.
  • Contributory Negligence – The victim’s own negligent behavior contributed to the drowning. But the owner’s negligence in not posting signs also played a role. In those states with comparative fault, plaintiffs may still have a case.
  • Trespassers – The victim entered the property without permission. Property owners owe limited duty to unauthorized visitors. But courts expect warnings for extremely hazardous areas.

Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers Today

When inadequate warning signs contribute to an accident, victims may have a claim against the owner. By showing the poor warnings caused the incident, plaintiffs can prove negligence. But property owners may dispute liability based on open dangers, assumption of risk, contributory negligence and trespassers. With proper evidence and legal arguments, victims may still prevail when inadequate signage leads to preventable drownings.

Contact our experienced injury lawyers today to evaluate your case if you or a loved one has suffered harm due to insufficient posted warnings. We fight to get justice for victims of negligence.

Visit our offices at:

  • Tampa – 2504 W Crest Ave, Tampa, FL 33614
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Or call now for a free consultation on (800) 800-4300.