Adams Stirling PLC


QUESTION: A board member has volunteered to watch children at the swimming pool. She has encouraged other volunteers to do the same. Although I commend her volunteerism, I am concerned she is subjecting the association and herself to potential liability.

ANSWER: There is always potential liability whenever volunteers are involved in any HOA activity. If volunteers watch the kids and a child drowns, the lawsuit would say something to the effect that, “The association had volunteers watching my children and, but for their negligence, my child would not have drowned.” However, forbidding people from volunteering has its own risks. In the event a child drowns, the lawsuit would now read: “My child would not have drowned if you had not forbidden people from volunteering to watch him!

Business Decision. As you can see, lawyers can spin a tragedy any way they want. Since you can’t entirely insulate yourself from potential litigation, the board must make a business decision as to which course of action produces the least risk. If children are out of control and there is a foreseeable risk of injury, allowing volunteers to monitor the pool may be the better course of action because it lowers the risk level. You would still want signage for “No Lifeguard on Duty” and disclaimers in your newsletters that parents must provide responsible supervision of their children at the pool.

Recommendation: Work with your insurance agent and your association’s legal counsel on this issue. The association is in a much better position to defend itself if it can show that the pool is regularly inspected and maintained, that all safety equipment is in place, that proper signage is posted, and that rules are enforced. If you opt for volunteers to help in that effort, you should make sure they are covered by the association’s insurance.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC