Firm Overview
Practice Areas
Clark, Butler, Walsh & Hamann
315 E 5th St.
Waterloo, Iowa 50703
Phone: (319) 234-5701
Fax: (319) 232-9579
Waterloo, Iowa Attorney practicing in Iowa primarily in Civil Litigation, Business Organization, Estate Planning & Probate, Family Law, Insurance Defense, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Personal Injury, Premise Liability, Product Liability, Real Estate, Workers' Compensation & Wrongful Death. Lawyers at the Clark, Butler, Walsh & Hamann are dedicated to serve their clients in Iowa, including the cities of Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Fort Dodge, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Davenport, Dubuque, Des Moines, Adel, Marshalltown, Pella, Decorah, Eldora, Johnston, Ankeny, Muscatine, Ottumwa, Manchester, Elkader, and Burlington , and the communities that make Polk, Webster, Story, Linn, Johnson, Scott, Dubuque, Black Hawk, Dallas, Marshall, Marion, Winneshiek, Muscatine, Wapello, Delaware, Clayton, Hardin and Des Moines counties.
I. General Information on Premises Liability
II. Types of Premises Liability
  A. Property Safety
  B. Punitive Damages
  C. Trespassing Children
  D. Slip and Fall
  E. Dog Bites
  F. Elevators
  G. Swimming Pools
  H. Stadiums
  I. Scope of Employment
  J. Independent Contractors
  K. Negligent Hiring and Retention
  L. False Arrest & Imprisonment
  M. Malicious Prosecution
  N. Libel and Slander
  O. Emotional Distress-Negligent or Intentional
III. Owner vs. Landlord Responsibilities
IV. Criminal Acts of Third Parties
V. Alcohol Liability
VI. Governmental Immunity

" Contact a Iowa premise liability lawyer representing clients in Waterloo, Iowa today to schedule your free initial consultation."
Johnson County Courthouse Iowa City Iowa

Swimming Pools

Private Pools. Children are attracted to swimming pools, creating a situation where occasionally the child will sneak onto someone's property and go swimming. These are called attractive nuisances for which an owner may be liable if adequate precautions to limit access to pools are not taken. Erecting a suitable fences around the pools usually insulate owners from liability for an injury, particularly to a trespassing child. If the latch to the primary gat or if the fence around the pool is missing a section where children may crawl under it, then an issue exists regarding the liability of an owner in the case of a child's drowning.

If the child is on the property as a guest of the owner, the child's parents cannot recover when he drowns in the owner's pool, even if there is no gate on the pool. This is due to the parents' knowledge of the pool's existence and it is an open and obvious condition wherein the child is not a trespasser, eliminating the attractive nuisance doctrine. If the child is expected to be supervised by their parents, an owner is not responsible for a child's drowning, particularly when there is no defect in the pool itself. If proper equipment or supervision is not provided while guests are using a private pool, owners may be held liable for injury. For example, failure to repair broken lights creates issues as to the responsibility of the owners for the drowning of a teenager during an evening party.

Public Pools. Public facilities are potentially liable for injuries when they fail to provide boundaries, such as lifelines, between deep and shallow ends as well as qualified lifeguards on duty as required by county regulations, even if the injured party is unaware of the failure to provide these safety precautions. If there is evidence that the lifeguard has failed to supervise swimmers in a proper manner, the public facility may also be held liable.

Personal Responsibility. If you, or someone you love, dives into a pool or lake and is injured when his head strikes the bottom, there is potential liability for an owner. The owner's liability is extremely limited when the injured party is negligent by not checking the water's depth, dives into a pool with black water without checking the depth, or is familiar with the depth and dives in anyway. However, if a diving board is present at a pool, the owner does have a duty to warn guests as to hidden perils of diving, such as the water under the board is only four foot deep.

Certain states, such as Georgia, have special legislation passed to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public, that limit the owner's liability toward persons entering the premises for recreational purposes. If you have been injured in public or private pools, lakes or other related areas, an experienced premises liability attorney will be able to assist you with the laws in your area.


Patrons at sporting and stadium events expect to find discarded items on the ground and cannot usually recover for slipping and falling on them. Owners of facilities that hold large sporting and stadium events are not liable as other businesses to keep the premises clean. Not all patrons at these events consciously clean up after themselves or others and constantly throw food, beverages and containers on the ground. The great hardship on the stadium owner to require constant inspections and removal of all debris and trash would negate any profitability to ownership. Patrons may not usually recover for slipping and falling on the debris of others in these facilities.

Scope of Employment

Employers are liable for vicarious or imputed liability of the actions of employees whether or not employees act negligently or intentionally. As long as employees are not engaged in private and personal matters of their own, and are acting within the realm of their employment by engaging in the employer's business at the time of any injury, employers may be liable. If the employee was acting on the behalf of his or her employer at the time of the injury, on or off the clock, the employer may be liable. A liberal interpretation of the scope of employment is endorsed by the courts, even if the acts were unlawful, unauthorized, or forbidden. This is true as long as the conduct is within the general duties of employment for which the employee was hired. This generally does not include when an employee is driving to or from work.

Employer liability may be limited when considering the employee's motivation. If the employee has personal animosity toward a claimant, the employer cannot be held liable. If an argument arises from how an employee is completing his or her work, the employer may be held liable even if the employee displays a personal dislike for the customer and the actions were intentional. If it is part of the employee's job description to resolve customer complaints, dealing regularly with customers, employers may be held liable for an assault resulting from the employee's attempt to resolve the customer complaint. If it is not part of the employee's job description, and they are not authorized to interact with customers, the employer may not be held liable for assaults that occur if an employee attempts to detain a customer.

Independent Contractors

Employers are not responsible for the actions of independent contractors when contractors exercise independent businesses that are not subject to the control or immediate direction of the employer. It is difficult at times to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. The status is decided by how much control is exercised by the employer. Independent contractors are normally listed as such in their contract for employment. Whether or not the employer ever actually exerts control over the performance of the independent contractor, if it is specifically called for in the contract, then the relationship is one of employee/employer. Although this is a general rule regarding independent contractors, there are other circumstances where the owner may be liable for accidents on their premises in this situation. An experienced Premises Liability attorney will be able to review the specific laws in your state that pertain to your situation.

Hiring and Retention Negligence

If an employer potentially knew or should have known of potential risks when hiring an employee, they may be liable for the acts of that employee if they cause an injury. It must be proved by the injured party that the employee was unsuitable for that particular position or their background procedure check of potential employees was faulty or unreasonable. For example, if the employee had a background of violent or criminal inclinations, the employer is potentially liable for any physical attacks by the employee. Depending on the kind of work to be performed, employers have a higher duty to investigate the employee's background. This does not pertain for employees of an independent contractor where the owner did not actually hire the employee.

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If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation contact an Iowa premise liability attorney, representing clients in Elkader, Iowa  at the Clark, Butler, Walsh & Hamann. Give us a call at (319) 234-5701 or email us at

DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at our firm web site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. It is recommended that you should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.


© MMVII Clark, Butler, Walsh & Hamann Address: 315 E 5th St., Waterloo, Iowa 50703 Phone: (319) 234-5701 Fax: (319) 232-9579
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