If a child drowns in their neighbor’s pool, is the neighbor responsible?

Case: A 2-and-a-half-year-old child escapes his parents’ supervision, enters the neighbors’ (unfenced) property, and falls into the pool and drowns. Can the child’s parents sue their neighbors for civil liability?

Lawyer’s response: In this case, the investigation revealed that applicable safety standards had been followed as the owners had installed a fixed safety tarp which they deployed when they were away from home. However, it was not placed back on the pool as they were inside their house and planned to swim later.

The Court of Cassation decided (2nd Civil Law Chamber, Judgment No. 21-18.713 of March 9, 2023) that the owners of the swimming pool cannot be held responsible for the death of a child. They could not “consider the presence of a small child on their property, without his parents.” Therefore, parents cannot claim compensation from the owners of the swimming pool.

Barthélémy Lemiale, associate lawyer at court, partner of Valmy Avocats.

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