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Pool Hopping Injuries: Who's Liable?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Pool hopping, the latest foolish teen trend, is pretty self-explanatory: You hop from pool to pool, usually at night. It involves sneaking into multiple private or public swimming pools at night or during off-hours.

It might sound fun, but is it legal? And if someone gets hurt, who can potentially be held liable?

Pool Hopping Is Trespassing

For starters, "pool hopping" in someone else's pool without permission is not legal.

In fact, two teens who went "pool hopping" in Massachusetts are facing trespassing charges, reports Boston's WBZ-TV.

Kelsey Gallagher, 18, and friend Alexis Mcauliffe, 20, decided to go for a swim in a neighbor's pool after midnight -- but didn't realize the pool was empty for repairs.

Gallagher was taken to a hospital with a skull fracture, a broken wrist and a spinal injury.

But instead of getting sympathy, she's getting charged with trespassing, which is a misdemeanor subject to a fine and a potential jail term.

Potential Homeowner Liability

The homeowner will likely not have to foot Mcauliffe's medical bill. That's because homeowners are generally not obligated to protect trespassers who enter their property without permission.

But if a landowner knows -- or should know -- that there are frequent trespassers on his or her property, then he or she may be liable for any injuries caused by an unsafe condition on the property.

The key is to fence-in and lock your pool.

In this case, the pool was surrounded by a chain-link fence and was locked at the time the girls decided to go pool-hopping, so the court would likely find the homeowner took sufficient precautions.

Attractive Nuisance?

But a property owner can be held liable for injuries to child trespassers due to attractive nuisances like swimming pools.

Generally, you have a special duty to protect child trespassers if something is so attractive to children that they can't help but come onto your property.

But the concept of attractive nuisance usually only applies to young children who can't appreciate danger. Teens, on the other hand, are pool-hopping precisely because of the risk and the sheer thrill of it.

Though teens often exhibit the decision-making prowess of 5-year-olds, a homeowner probably won't be liable for "attractive nuisances" that reel in teens who are bored of the Cinnamon Challenge.

Note to teens: You should know you're doing something dumb by pool-hopping when even's definition has prophetic power.

The website's example sentence for "pool hopping": The kids went pool-hopping, and one of them nearly drowned.

C'mon kids.

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