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#56645 - 07/22/05 09:30 AM Pond Liability
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
Hi,

When I get a good rain shower, my new pond is deep enough to drown someone until I can drain it.

In most areas, there are strict laws regarding private swimming pool safety. There have been some whopping big lawsuits because of drownings and such. It makes me pretty nervous when I think about the outrageous awards I hear about.

What are some of the laws and precedents regarding pond safety and liability? Are there any pond designs that I should consider for liability and safety reasons? Is fencing and signage a must? What do you guys have in the way of fencing and signage? Other than a good homeowner's policy, what other insurance coverage should I consider?

I guess all state laws have similarities and differences. FWIW, I'm in Louisiana.

Thanks,,,
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Shrimp

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#56646 - 07/22/05 10:16 AM Re: Pond Liability
Jersey Offline
Lunker

Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 469
Loc: Georgia
The designer of my pond recommends a "shelf" around the perimeter that is about 6-8 feet wide and 3' deep. He says that if the bank drops straight down (6' in my case) it would be very difficult for a kid, dog, or even an adult to get out. Since my pond will be used for swimming as much as fishing, I'm going to take his advice.

A fence is out of the question around a 7 acre pond. So I'll just pay my homeowners insurance, get a $1,000,000 umbrella policy for $125/yr., and put up no trespassing signs.
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Hey Moe, I'm trying to think but nuthin's happening!

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#56647 - 07/22/05 11:02 AM Re: Pond Liability
Sunil Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 11552
Loc: Somerset, PA
Jersey is right. The cost of additional liability insurance is so cheap that it's foolish not to have it.

Unfortunately, no matter what your local, state, or federal laws are regarding liability for your pond, anyone can sue you whether they have legal standing or not.

Many times, you can just add your pond/property to your homeowners insurance with a phone call, and they'll bill you.

It's pretty effortless.
_________________________
Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."


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#56648 - 07/22/05 01:15 PM Re: Pond Liability
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jersey:
The designer of my pond recommends a "shelf" around the perimeter that is about 6-8 feet wide and 3' deep.
Oh rats. Around here, shallow banks are asking for an alligator weed infestation. I guess it's worth it though.

A million dollars would be good peace of mind. It also might make you a target for greedy lawyers. Too bad your insurance coverage is accessable to lawyers BEFORE a lawsuit. There should be a law that your insurance coverage information is available only with your signed permission, or court ordered after trial or settlement.
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#56649 - 07/22/05 01:20 PM Re: Pond Liability
Sunil Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 11552
Loc: Somerset, PA
Yes Bobad, it is a catch 22 about the insurance; you get it to protect yourself and your family, and at the same time, it puts you up on the radar as a target.

I heard that ATV riders in Ohio were quickly running out of places to ride because Ohio landowners were posting all of their properties.
When asked why, the landowners said because they didn't want to have any liability if someone got injured.

Supposedly, Ohio then passed a law relieving landowners from liability if someone got hurt while riding. Then landowners took down the NTP signs.

I don't know if that's true; can anyone confirm that?
_________________________
Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."


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#56650 - 07/22/05 04:48 PM Re: Pond Liability
BD Offline
Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Tulsa, Ok
I will have alot of insurance, and if I can afford to do it, fence it ALL in. Signs I feel are a must too.

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#56651 - 07/22/05 04:52 PM Re: Pond Liability
Sunil Offline
Moderator
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Lunker

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 11552
Loc: Somerset, PA
BD, I would use fencing if I thought it would stop anybody. The one thing that fencing is fairly good at controlling is the wildlife which may not really be a benefit.
_________________________
Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."


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#56652 - 07/22/05 07:42 PM Re: Pond Liability
Theo Gallus Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12400
Loc: Central Ohio
You're right, Sunil, fence is like locks - they only keep the honest people out. (By this definition, most of the wildlife I can think of is dishonest, too \:D ) But fencing is one of the ways (in Ohio) that you have to use to show (legally) you are denying access, along with "NT" signs and not allowing people to ignore your fence and signs, if you are aware of them on your property.

At least my fence keeps my livestock in (usually).
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"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling

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#56653 - 07/22/05 08:10 PM Re: Pond Liability
Alligator Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/30/05
Posts: 821
Loc: East Texas
bobad,

I added my pond property to my Home Owners Policy for $10 a year additional...it would cover personal liability.
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#56654 - 07/22/05 08:15 PM Re: Pond Liability
Eastland Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/20/03
Posts: 1039
Loc: Dallas TX
Liberal America kills me...If a trespasser/poacher comes onto my land, shoots himself, or gets drunk and drowns herself \:\) , it's my tail on the line for building a pond ? If they do it 1/2 mile down the road on a public lake, they get an Obit. in the Sunday paper. Thankfully Texas law is far different than the West Coast, a "NO TRESPASSING" sign means "Stay off MY property". You can buy insurance if you want, but in my parts, the Buzzards & Coyotes will probably be the Jury.

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#56655 - 07/22/05 08:51 PM Re: Pond Liability
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
What I'm hearing so far is that it's hard to hang liability on the pond owner. That suits me just fine.

There's an old saw that goes "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". IOW, you are responsible for breaking the law even though you weren't aware something was illegal. I have no argument with that.

Now, why not say "Ignorance of danger is no excuse"? In other words, if someone jumps in my pond and drowns, it's their responsibility because they should know that water will drown you. By building a fence and posting signs, it assigns the responsibility to me to inform them of the danger.

Looks like we're stuck with a double standard, and I will always be worried.
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#56656 - 07/22/05 09:23 PM Re: Pond Liability
Eastland Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/20/03
Posts: 1039
Loc: Dallas TX
Bob, at my home I have a privacy fence, inside my back yard I have an iron fence around my pool that has a latch high enough to keep out infants. That security is required or I pay a fine, in Dallas.

My pond is not in Dallas, i.e Eastland county 2 hours away. I put up a barbed wire fence & posted signs, that did not stop thieves from taking (2) 4-wheelers, I have no sympathy left for those who cross the boundaries I have set. I'll let the rural court decide the rest, and sleep well, I know the the kind of people who would make up the jury.

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#56657 - 07/22/05 10:42 PM Re: Pond Liability
Theo Gallus Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12400
Loc: Central Ohio
 Quote:
sleep well, I know the the kind of people who would make up the jury.
If a couple of them show up for jury duty on your 4-wheelers, start worrying. ;\)
_________________________
"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling

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#56658 - 07/23/05 03:26 AM Re: Pond Liability
heronblu Offline
Member

Registered: 04/17/04
Posts: 123
Loc: Alabama
Itís an ill wind that blows no good, as the saying goes. Since I live on my pond and closely limit who can fish here and when, I have found it very helpful to blame denials of access on that dadgum insurance company of mine and those doggone lawyers. Such an answer is still a ďnoĒ but it deflects the anger of those who get turned down to our common enemies, the insurance companies and the legal profession. Both of those targets have earned the privilege, in my opinion. However, since my wife is a lawyer and I am only a little crazy, I donít express that viewpoint around the house. I am still paying for telling some guests that I canít take her fishing anymore because her jaw unhinges when there is blood in the water. (OK, so maybe I am a lot crazy.)
Lou, 13.5 acres

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#56659 - 07/23/05 01:11 PM Re: Pond Liability
zenbasser Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/05
Posts: 8
Loc: Southern Iowa
I'm no lawyer and every state is different. Iowa has a recreational use law that limits the liability of the land owner if someone uses the property for recreational use. (The law looks at someone who wanders onto your property different than someone you invite as a guest.

http://www.americanwhitewater.org/resources/repository/Iowa_Recreational_Use_Statute.htm

The best thing about insurance is in most cases, the insurance company pays the legal defense costs.

You don't lose the farm paying the lawyers.
_________________________
1/3 acre & 1.5 acre ponds -- first year of ownership

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#56660 - 07/23/05 01:17 PM Re: Pond Liability
Sunil Offline
Moderator
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 11552
Loc: Somerset, PA
I'm in agreement w/ everyone here about it being ridiculous that we should have liability if someone gets hurt on our properties.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that anyone can sue us for any reason. Even if the issue is basically a joke, we'll still have to defend ourselves in court with no chance of recovering legal fees.

The main reason for this inexpensive insurance is to handle any "frivolous" lawsuit. If such an unfortunate event occurs (that I'm sued by some scumbag), it won't cost me a dime. It will be the insurance company's problem. I'll still have to be involved in the legal process (depositions, interrogatories, etc.), but I won't need an attorney. This is assuming that the insurance company's attorney is not a total wastoid.
_________________________
Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."


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#56661 - 07/23/05 02:02 PM Re: Pond Liability
ken Offline
Lunker

Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 350
Loc: ohio
i had 2 young boys trash my pond , pulled plants and threw them at each other. went out in the boat playing around. just made a mess of everything. i don't blame the kids , i blame the parents. what if one hit his head diving off the dock , by time other went for help , kid be dead. i did some research and found if you try to prevent an accident things will go your way. the pond is acre , so i electric fenced from my barn to the perimeter of my property back. i made the attempt to keep people out. also kicked my insurance up to a mil liability lol
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#56662 - 07/23/05 02:16 PM Re: Pond Liability
Bernie H. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/15/05
Posts: 104
Loc: Northern Ky
As Sunil said;you can't keep from being sued. I carry extra ins. But,in Ky there are 2 laws providing the landowner protection from those you give permission to fish/hunt/birdwatch ,etc. They were enacted to encourage landowners{pondowners] to allow access to private lands. As long as you don't charge a fee,that is.

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#56663 - 07/23/05 05:54 PM Re: Pond Liability
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
Bernie,

That's refreshing laws. Except for liability, I wouldn't mind folks walking or birding around my pond.
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Shrimp

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