Swimming pools are a joyous form of entertainment in the hot summer months for many. Tragically, swimming pool accidents do occur, and sometimes they can even be fatal if the victim drowns or hits their head. Sadly, most victims of swimming pool accidents are just children.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died, you may be wondering what to do after a swimming pool accident. You should understand your rights when it comes to compensation. We’re here to help guide you during this difficult time and provide you with facts and strategies to seek damages.
What are some statistics on swimming pool injuries and death?
According to the Center for Disease Control, drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 every year in the U.S. except for birth defects. Most of these drownings happen in swimming pools. After motorcycle crashes, drowning is the leading cause of death or injury for children ages 1-14.
It’s estimated that 3,960 people die every year from drowning, averaging 11 deaths per day. Beyond that, there are 8,080 nonfatal drownings that result in long-term health problems and costly medical expenses.
80% of drowning victims are male, which may be attributed to risk-taking, increased exposure to water, and the use of alcohol or drugs.
Certain factors increase the likelihood of swimming pool accidents or drowning, such as the victim not being able to swim or being a weak swimmer. Missing or ineffective fences can allow children to gain access to a swimming pool unbeknownst to adults. By having a four-sided fence around a pool, the likelihood of a child drowning is reduced by a whopping 83%.
However, lack of supervision of children in swimming pools can result in injury or drowning. It just takes a minute of not watching closely, and an injury can occur even if there are lifeguards on duty. For every child that drowns, another ten children will be injured from submersion, such as brain damage.
Another common cause of swimming pool accidents is drowning by entrapment. Entrapment is when a suction causes the victim’s hair, limbs, or clothing to be caught or get entangled in the water. A simple thing like a pool toy can even cause entrapment if the swimmer is a child or not a very strong swimmer.
Diving boards and the act of diving can lead to serious injury if the water is too shallow or the diving board malfunctions. The results can be severe, like a spinal injury, brain injury, or death.
Swimming pool slides can be dangerous, particularly if the slide drops the user into shallow water or it breaks from improper maintenance. An electrical defect or haphazardous use of electrical equipment around a swimming pool can have terrible consequences in the form of electrocution.
And finally, slip, and falls can cause injury or death if the area around the pool is improperly maintained or people are behaving in a reckless manner. The area around the pool can be excessively slippery if tile is used instead of a textured material, or water is allowed to accumulate.
What kind of long-term injuries can you have after a swimming pool accident?
Long-term injuries can be devastating to the individual and their families. These types of injuries can be in the form of brain damage from oxygen deprivation, a coma, difficulty controlling behavior and emotions, learning disabilities, permanent loss of bodily functions, and speech and memory issues. Whether near-drowning, slipping on wet surfaces around a pool or spa, or dangerous pool drains and filters, many of these accidents could have been easily prevented if the proper care was taken.
A near-drowning is defined as if the victim survives more than 24 hours after submersion. If the victim dies within 24 hours, then it is called death by drowning.
What kind of liability do private swimming pool owners have?
Laws vary across the U.S., but homeowners generally have some or total liability if an accident occurs on their premises. This is true even if the victim was a trespasser. Injuries at a private residential swimming pool fall under premises liability. Premises liability is a legal view that usually comes up in personal injury cases where the victim was harmed due to some kind of unsafe or defective situation on the property.
Personal injury claims are typically based on negligence, and premises liability falls under that concept. To win a claim of premises liability, the victim must sufficiently prove the owner was guilty of negligence in the ownership or maintenance of their property. Negligence is when an owner of the home failed to exercise reasonable care.
In the case of private swimming pools, most claims will arise from a child gaining access to an unsecured swimming pool without supervision. Because of this, most states have laws concerning locks and gates around swimming pools. If the swimming pool was improperly secured, the property owner could be held liable in a premises liability claim.
Likewise, if an accident occurred because the homeowner failed to properly maintain the pool, they could be held liable. Here are a few examples. A pool drain malfunction could lead to heavy suction, and a person’s limbs or hair could get stuck, leading to damaged skin, torn tendons, or even injury to internal organs. A homeowner has a duty of care to warn others if there is a non-obvious shallow area of the pool where people should not jump. Faulty electrical systems could lead to electrocution. Poor water quality could lead to health risks and infections, and finally, an overabundance of chemicals could cause injuries to the skin, nose and throat pain, and even asthma.
What kind of liability do public pool owners have?
Public pool owners have the same duty of care to invitees as do private swimming pool owners. However, they could also be held liable for failure to provide emergency safety equipment or lack of supervision or lifeguards depending on what the local and federal laws dictate. Lifeguards have to be adequately trained in what to do after a swimming pool accident.
Public pool owners have to adequately warn people that use the pool of any hidden dangers. They must maintain a safe pool, maintain barriers, and take care in the treatment of the water to ensure the chemical balances are correct. Failing to do so could lead to a premises liability claim from injured people.
Some other public health hazards public pool owners have a duty to take care of are making sure unprotected electrical circuits are a safe distance from the pool, emergency lighting is installed, and making certain depth markers are present. Furthermore, they must ensure the pool isn’t overcrowded so swimmers can remain adequately supervised.
Most swimming pool accidents occur at regulated facilities like municipal pools, school swimming pools, homeowner association pools, amusement parks, health clubs, and apartment complexes. 58% of drownings happen in less than five feet of water at regulated facilities. Surprisingly public pool violations are quite common.
What if a product defect caused injury or death?
Suppose an injury or death occurred because of something like a malfunctioning drain. In that case, a product liability claim could be brought to the seller or manufacturer of the part. To do this, the victim must prove the device was faulty, the manufacturer or seller knew it was faulty, and they did nothing about it. And finally, that it was the source of the injury or death.
What kind of compensation can I get after a swimming pool accident?
If you or a loved one were seriously injured or died after a swimming pool accident, you might be able to file a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim against the owner of the pool. Generally, you would want to have a swimming pool accident lawyer represent you because they can help define who is liable and how much your claim is really worth. Some of the damages you may be able to seek compensation for are as follows:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Ambulance service
- Hospitalization and emergency room services
- Physical therapy
- Rehabilitation for brain injuries
- Funeral and burial expense
- Lost wages
- Any additional out of pocket expenses from the injury
- Loss of spousal or parental income and support
Are you ready to get help from an experienced personal injury lawyer?
Learning what to do after a swimming pool accident is complicated because you may not be sure who should be held liable and how to file a legal claim against them. The personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have the experience you need to handle this. We’ve been providing support and winning cases for clients for over 30-years and have an impressive track record of making the insurance companies act fairly.
Our lawyers will negotiate on your behalf and handle all communications with the insurance companies. We collect supporting evidence for your case, establish liability, and assign a dollar amount for your injuries. And if necessary, we take your case to trial to let a judge and jury decide what your injuries are worth.
The personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan maintain that every victim of negligence has a right to be heard and receive fair and just compensation for their losses. We understand that every case is unique, and every client is an important client. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation if you’re ready to be heard and receive compensation for your injuries. Our compassionate lawyers are standing by and ready.