Do you need a Drowning Lawyer for a Swimming Pool Accident?

Do you need a Drowning Lawyer for a Swimming Pool Accident?

Do you need a Drowning Lawyer for a Swimming Pool Accident?

For most people, going to the pool is an exciting day full of sun, fun, and relaxation. Swimming is something to look forward to during those hot summer months, a great way to let the kids burn some energy off when the family is stuck in a hotel, or a relaxing place to spend time with friends and loved ones for holidays. Unfortunately, swimming pool accidents do occur, and these fun pool days can quickly turn into nightmare situations. By being prepared and following some simple steps, you can avoid most pool day disasters.

But not all accidents are avoidable and some are just out of our control. Sometimes the pool owner’s mistakes, or faults within the pool or facility itself, can cause a swimmer to suffer a swimming pool accident injury, to no fault of the injured swimmer. These swimming pool accident injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more serious injuries, such as drowning. If you or a loved one has been involved in a swimming pool accident, contact a swimming pool accident lawyer or drowning lawyer right away. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, especially if the pool owner/operator acted negligently in some way, the pool did not meet specific safety requirements, or a defective product caused the injury.

 

Swimming Pool Accident Statistics

Last year, more than 60,000 people in the United States were treated in an emergency room for injuries relating to a swimming pool accident.

Every year 5,000 children age nine and under drown as a result of a swimming pool accident, while 3,000 more are treated for serious injuries sustained at a swimming pool.

It only takes a few minutes for a submerged adult to suffer from brain damage when drowning – for children, it takes even less time. And children are the most susceptible demographic to drowning. In more than 1 in 4 fatal drowning incidents, the victim is age 14 or younger. For every child who drowns, 4 receive medical treatment for serious injuries related to submersion, such as brain damage.

Private swimming pool accidents are by far the most likely. Research indicates that an accidental fatality occurring at a home is 100 times more likely to be caused by a pool than a handgun at the house.

The summer months see the highest percentage of fatalities of all seasons, with around 10 water-related deaths occurring every day on average.

 

Swimming Pool Accident Injuries

The range and severity of swimming pool accidents are wide and encompassing of many different types of injuries.

Less serious injuries are more likely to occur than life-threatening injuries. It is not uncommon to suffer a scrape, cut, bruise, abrasion, or burn as a result of a swimming pool accident. Rashes, irritations, and allergic reactions sometimes occur due to the body’s reaction to chemicals used to clean the pools, especially when an unsafe amount of chemicals is used. Illness can be spread in pools and pool facilities that are not properly cleaned and monitored.

More serious injuries, while not as common, do still occur at pools. Broken bones, blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and spine, and injuries related to drowning are some of the more serious injuries that can occur at the pool. Head, neck and spinal injuries can be extremely serious; leading to paralysis and even death. These injuries often occur as a result of falling or diving into shallow areas of the pool. Drowning is also a life-threatening injury. While most people associate drowning with death, there are other serious risks to individuals who have “near-drowning” accidents. That is accidents in which the swimmer begins to drown but regains breathing functions. The most common adverse result of near-drowning accidents is brain damage.

A swimming pool accident lawsuit can be filed on behalf of anyone who has suffered an injury at a pool, regardless of whether the injury is less serious, more serious, or fatal. However, less serious injuries are less likely to qualify for a swimming pool accident lawsuit. To find out whether your swimming pool accident injury qualifies, contact a drowning lawyer to discuss the details of your case.

 

Swimming Pool Drownings

Drowning accidents occur most frequently at swimming pools, especially when children are involved. These accidents commonly occur when the pool’s owner/operator acts negligently in some way. For example, the pool owners/operators:

  • Do not properly maintain equipment
  • Fail to maintain or install proper barriers around the pool
  • Fail to provide adequate supervision
  • Fail to provide a safe environment, such as
    • Allow overcrowding
    • Lack of rules or warning signs
    • Lack of safety equipment

Drowning accidents also commonly occur as a result of a faulty pool, pool facility, or defective products. There are specific state and local regulations surrounding pool and pool facility designs and maintenance that are put in place to ensure that the pool and pool facility are as safe as possible for swimmers. Older pools and pool facilities are expected to keep current with these regulations, but sometimes fail to do so.

For example: An older facility may have a 3ft barrier surrounding the pool, meeting the initial barrier height regulations for when the pool was originally built. But newer local regulations, put in subsequent to the pool’s installation, call for a 5ft barrier to be put into place. The facility owner/operator decides to opt out of extending the barrier height, in order to cut spending. If there were an accident at the pool, say a drowning, then a drowning lawyer could make a case to hold the pool owner/operator liable for failing to meet safety expectations.

Even if the victim is not invited onto the property, but trespasses into the facility without permission and subsequently drowns, a drowning lawyer could still make an argument against the pool owner/operator if their facility does not meet regulations.

For example: A child in the neighborhood goes through his neighbors’ closed, unlocked gate and falls into the pool. The child, who is not a strong swimmer, struggles to get out of the pool. With no one around to supervise, the child drowns. Local regulations require all pool facilities to be surrounded by a closed barrier with a locked gate entrance. In this case, a drowning lawyer could make an argument that the pool owner/operator is liable for the incident because they did not meet regulations regarding having a locked gate entrance.

The expectation to maintain safe pool premises – premises which meet standard regulations to ensure swimmer safety – applies to all pools. However, the regulations for pools operating on a public basis may differ from those operating as privately owned pools.

Drownings commonly occur at pools – public pools, private pools, apartment pools, hotel pools, and waterparks. But drowning accidents are not limited to these areas. Drowning accidents also frequently occur at local lakes, rivers, swimming holes, and beaches. Depending on the specific details of an incident, the victim may not be at fault for their accident. There are complex laws and regulations surrounding liability for drowning accidents. If you believe that you or a loved one’s drowning accident was at no fault of the victim, contact a drowning lawyer to discuss your case. You may be entitled to compensation for injuries.

 

Near-Drownings and Other Common Swimming Pool Accidents

Other than drownings, there are a number of common swimming pool accidents that can occur due to the pool owner/operators negligence, an issue with the facility itself, or a defect in a pool product. The severity of these accidents can range from less serious to very serious and even fatal. The most common non-drowning swimming pool accident injuries are related to blunt-force trauma and near-drowning.

Blunt Force Trauma to Head, Neck, & Spine: Blunt force trauma injuries can be very serious and even fatal. These injuries often occur when a swimmer hits their head, neck or spine in a high impact collision with a hard surface – usually a pool deck or the bottom of the pool. Oftentimes when a blunt force trauma swimming pool injury occurs, it is because the swimmer dives into a shallow area of the pool. Diving accidents make up around ten percent of all spinal injuries every year. Blunt force trauma injuries also commonly occur as a result of slipping on a pool deck. Blunt force trauma injuries often require emergency medical attention. Depending on the severity of the injury, the injured swimmer may require surgery, special medical attention, or lifetime medical care. Blunt force trauma accidents are often the result of a lack of maintenance, defective products, lack of supervision, or lack of warning signs on the premise.

Near-Drowning Accidents: Any time a person begins to drown – that is, their lungs begin to fill with water – that person runs the risk of suffering brain damage due to lack of oxygen flowing through the body and brain, even if the drowning is not fatal. A near-drowning accident occurs when a person’s airways are blocked by water, therefore blocking the intake of oxygen to the body. After a few minutes, the lack of oxygen in the body begins to damage the vital organs, such as the brain. Even when drowning is not fatal, its effects on the brain can be extremely serious. It is not uncommon for near-drowning victims, especially children, to suffer permanent neurological disabilities as a result of a near-drowning accident. Near-drowning accidents are often the result of a lack of supervision, or due to defective products in the pool.

Other serious swimming pool accident injuries may be caused by:

Drain-Related Accidents: There are specific regulations that mandate safety precautions for pool drains because pool drains can be extremely dangerous. Pool drain accidents occur when a swimmer becomes stuck in a pool drain, often times by an article of clothing or hair. These drains have a strong pull and can hold a fully-grown adult underwater if the swimmer becomes lodged in the drain. The resulting injury of a pool drain accident is likely to be a drowning or near-drowning injury. Drain-related accidents are often the result of a lack of supervision and due to defective products in the pool.

Slip and Fall Accidents: Slip and fall accident injuries are very common swimming pools accidents, too. The injuries caused by slip and fall accidents range from cuts and scrapes, broken bones, and more serious injuries such as blunt force trauma. Swimming pool slip and fall accidents commonly occur when the pool deck is wet, when the deck is not properly maintained, or when there is a lack of supervision. Slip and fall accidents are often the results of lack of supervision and/or dangerous and unmanaged pool premises.

Electrocutions: Electrocutions, while less common, still account for a percentage of serious swimming pool accident injuries. Electrocutions are almost always the result of faulty wiring in the pool or dangerous and unmanaged pool premises.

 

What are the Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents?

When a swimming pool accident occurs and the owner/operator of the swimming pool or swimming pool facility acts in negligence, they can be held liable for any injuries that result from the accident. When a swimming pool accident is the result of a defective product, the manufacturer, distributor and/or seller of the product may be held liable for the injury.

Negligence, Negligence Per Se, and Premises Liability

Negligent actions are any actions in which a person fails to do what the average person would do in the same situation. A pool owner/operator has a duty of care: a duty to provide a safe environment to swimmers. The standard for this care is based on the expected care that an average person would provide in the same situation. When a pool owner/operator fails to provide this care, they are said to be guilty of negligence.

Negligent Supervision: Negligent supervision is one of the most common arguments of negligence in swimming pool accident lawsuits. Negligent supervision primarily applies to publicly operating facilities with staff such as public pools, club pools, waterparks, etc. When a swimming pool accident occurs and the swimming pool owner/operator fails to provide adequate supervision for swimmers, the owner/operator is acting negligently and can be held liable for any injuries resulting from the accident. The owner/operator may also be held liable if the supervision provided does not meet other expectations such as supervisor training or pool supervision certifications. There are specific laws and regulations which mandate the number of supervisors required at a publicly operating facility, as well as the necessary training required for said supervisors. Negligent supervision may also apply to privately owned pools when the owner of the pool fails to provide adequate supervision for invited swimmers. There is an expectation for private pool owners to provide adequate supervision based on the pool owner’s duty of care to invited swimmers.

For example: A private pool owner has a birthday party and invites over 30 of the neighborhood children to swim. The owner is not trained in first aid, swim rescue, or lifeguarding, but there is an expectation that adequately trained supervision will be provided in order to mitigate the likelihood of an incident. If the owner decides to supervise all 30 children himself, and one of the children suffers an injury, the pool owner can be held liable based on negligence because he did not meet the duty of care.

Negligence Per Se: Also known as strict liability, under negligence per se, a pool owner/operate who violates any laws regarding pool premises is directly liable for any damages that the injured party incurs. State laws and local regulations mandate that property owners who have a pool are required to take necessary steps to mitigate any possible swimming pool accidents on their property, whether it be an invited guest or non-invited trespasser. Failure to meet these standards can result in the property owner being held liable for any swimming pool accidents that occur on their property based on negligence. These requirements differ state-by-state, so it is important to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and regulations surrounding swimming pools. Generally, there are a few standards that almost all states require:

  • A barrier of a certain height, such as a fence, surrounding the pool
  • No gaps, openings or damages in said barrier
  • A lockable gate for said barrier
  • Pool entrance and exit tools, such as stairs and ladders
  • Covers for unoccupied pools
  • Pool warning labels, such as “do not dive signs” in certain areas of the pool
  • Functional and safe pool lighting systems
  • A certain number of staffed lifeguards at public pools
  • Pool drain covers and functioning safety systems

When a pool owner/operator directly violates the laws and regulations of pool premises, the injured party can argue negligence per se, which is a very strong argument of negligence.

For example: State law mandates all waterparks have at least two trained lifeguards on staff for every pool on site while in operation. During a very busy day, the waterpark decides to staff one lifeguard at the least popular pool, while staffing a third lifeguard at the most popular pool. There is an accident at the least popular pool and a young child suffers a head injury. Because the waterpark directly violated the state law of having at least two lifeguards on duty, the victim has a strong argument of negligence per se against the waterpark.

However, not all pool premises liability claims fall under negligence per se.

Pool Premises Liability: When the pool owner/operator fails to provide a safe environment but does not directly violate any laws or regulations, they may still be held liable based on premises liability if the premises can be deemed unsafe.

For example: A pool facility has a diving board on the deep end of the pool. The diving board has a 200lb weight limit, but there is no warning sign about the 200lb limit clearly displayed for swimmers to see. A 250lb man, unaware of the diving board’s weight limit, jumps on the board, which breaks. The fiberglass on the board badly cuts the man. In this case, the pool owner/operator could be held liable for the man’s injuries because they failed to provide safe premises for swimmers.

 

Product Liability & Swimming Pool Accident Lawsuits

Product Liability: Like negligence per se, product liability is a strict liability argument. Under product liability, the liability falls on the manufacturer, distributor, and/or seller of a defective product. In the case of a swimming pool accident lawsuit, these defective products may be faulty swimming pools or pool equipment.

There are 3 types of swimming pool defects:

1. Design defect: This defect falls on the actual design of the product. The fault in the product traces all the way back to an issue with the product’s design, making it either defective, dangerous, or both.

For example: An enclosed floatation tube made for waterparks is designed to support swimmers of all size. However, a design flaw causes it to take on water and sink when waters are not completely calm. A man suffers a near-drowning experience while using the tube in the wave pool because the tube takes on water and sinks.

2. Manufacturing/Installation defect: This defect falls on either the manufacturer of the product or specifically for pool equipment, the installer of the pool or pool equipment. There is no problem with the product design, but the manufacturer/installer error causes the defect.

For example: A diving board is designed to withstand high impact jumping using grade-A fiberglass. However, the manufacturer decides to cut costs and use grade-G fiberglass. After the first set of diving boards are sold, there are a number of injuries resulting from the boards breaking on impact.

For example: A diving board is designed to withstand high impact jumping using specialized hinges that are supposed to be anchored into concrete. The diving board installer puts in a new board at a private pool with a wooden deck. The installer anchors the hinges into the wood. The pool owner goes to use the board for the first time, the whole board comes loose and the owner breaks his leg on the wooden deck below the board.

3. Marketing defect: This defect falls on the company or entity that sells the product. There is no problem with the product itself, but the product is marketed to be used for other uses than its intended purpose.

For example: A child’s pool floatation is designed to be used to support the child in the water, but not keep the child buoyant alone. The manufacturer intended for the device to be worn with an approved floatation design. However, the distributor markets the product with an image of a child in the device without another approved floatation device. The box does not explicitly state that the floatation device is not an approved floatation device, and is meant to be worn along with another floatation device. A mother puts her child in the floatation device without an approved device and the child suffers a near-drowning injury.

 

What Should I Do After a  Swimming Pool Accident or Swimming Pool Drowning?

If you are involved in a swimming pool accident or swimming pool drowning, you should contact a swimming pool accident lawyer or drowning lawyer right away.

The laws and regulations surrounding swimming pool accidents and swimming pool drownings are very complex. An experienced drowning lawyer will be able to help you determine who is liable for your injuries, as well as what compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.

 

Tips From a Drowning Lawyer

After your swimming pool accident, you should follow these simple steps from a drowning lawyer:

  • Collect as much evidence as possible from the event.
  • Keep all medical documents or other documents from the incident.
  • Document the accident and subsequent events and injuries in your own words, using a journal and photographs.
  • Call a drowning lawyer or swimming pool accident lawyer right away.
  • Do not make formal contact with any parties involved before seeking legal aid.

At TorHoerman Law, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys and staff is available to help you with any potential swimming pool accident lawsuit. A drowning lawyer from TorHoerman Law would be more than happy to offer a free no-obligation swimming pool accident lawsuit case consultation to you.


References

"Latest Pool Safely Stats: At Least 163 Children Fatally Drowned in Pools and Spas This Summer." U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 20 Sept. 2017, www.cpsc.gov/Latest-Pool-Safely-Stats-At-Least-163-Children-Fatally-Drowned-in-Pools-and-Spas-This-Summer.

"Pool Safely." Pool Safely, www.poolsafely.gov/.

"Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts | Home and Recreational Safety | CDC Injury Center." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html.

Swimming Pool Accident or Drowning

A swimming pool accident lawsuit can be filed on behalf of anyone who has suffered an injury at a pool, regardless of whether the injury is less serious, more serious, or fatal. It's important to contact a lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident.