Swim at your own risk!
Big sign. Can't miss it at your hotel pool.
Hotel swimming pools are great when you're on vacation. It's relaxing. You get great exercise, and you can show off your pretty bikini. The only thing that may ruin a great day at the hotel's swimming pool is if you slip and fall; or you drown because you had too much to drink before going in; or you get sucked in by a broken drain and can't get out of the water.
We know we are being no fun here. But it is an important question: If you're injured at a swimming pool, is the hotel's pool liability waiver enforceable?
Waivers of Liability
The sign says, "Swim at your own risk. No lifeguard present. Users waive all liability." Even if you don't sign anything, you could be agreeing to the hotel's liability waiver when you decide to jump into the pool.
Generally, a liability waiver is unenforceable if it waives all liability or liability for reckless and intentional acts. Courts would usually rule the former invalid because its overbroad and unenforceable, and the latter against public policy. For example, a hotel cannot avoid liability if a hotel employee pushed a customer into the pool only to discover that the customer can't swim and drowned. The hotel employee's act was intentional, and liability for intentional acts cannot be waived.
Negligence and gross negligence
However, a waiver of liability for simple negligence may be enforceable. Courts usually consider different levels of negligence including negligence and gross negligence.
Negligence is being careless or not acting as a reasonable person would. Gross negligence indicates a serious level of inattention and disregard so far below the ordinary care that a reasonable person would take, that even a careless person wouldn't have done such things.
While negligence may be covered in a liability waiver, courts have ruled that property owners cannot waive liability for actions that constitute gross negligence. For instance, pouring two cups of bleach into a pool instead of one may be considered negligence, but pouring 100 cups of bleach instead of one would be considered gross negligence.
If you are ever injured at a hotel swimming pool, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate your injuries and the hotel's liability waiver.