Did you or someone you know lose a loved one in a swimming pool accident? It’s more than normal to ask yourself questions such as:
Days spent by the spool should be remembered for their fun and excitement. When negligence transforms recreation into calamity, victims and their loved ones have the right to seek justice.
Discussing the specific circumstances of a drowning tragedy with an experienced drowning accident lawyer can provide you with answers to these legal questions and any others you may have. Contact our team today to investigate your potential for a claim.
With proper supervision as well as regular management of facilities, swimming pools can enrich households and communities with countless hours of fun. However, and perhaps most importantly, these preventive measures can avoid a drowning accident.
Regrettably, even with a clear understanding of the dangers posed by swimming pools, children and adults lose their lives in drownings by the hundreds each year. One need only glance at the statistics from last year to understand the severity of the problem.
The USA Swimming Foundation, which tracks fatal drownings each year, found that 2019 saw 221 children (15 & under) perish in a pool or spa-related drowning. And while this number represented a decrease of 14% in fatalities from the previous year, it is nonetheless an unacceptable figure.
We know that pools can be dangerous; we understand the risks quite clearly, which also entails that we know how to prevent them. The fact that even a single young life is lost in such an avoidable way is inadmissible, and we must continue to make changes as a society to mitigate them completely.
The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that men constitute nearly 80% of the drowning deaths in the country. Moreover, they also report that children aged 1 to 4 are at the most risk of drowning. Of the drowning incidents in children within this budding age range, most occur in swimming pools found in their own homes.
Now that the prevalence of such tragedies is clear, we must also delve into the specific causes of these tragedies. Only by understanding the causes of drowning accidents will we be able to swiftly act to prevent further lives from being lost in such a senseless manner.
It should go without saying that individuals who are not good swimmers, or those who do not know how to swim in the first place, should be extremely cautious around pools.
It is not only children who drown in swimming pools because they do not know how to swim. There are countless adults who simply have not had enough exposure to the water to have ever learned how to swim. Both of these populations, naturally, are at an increased risk of becoming victims of fatal unintentional drowning.
You may have previously noticed that just about every pool, whether it be public or private, is usually surrounded by some sort of barrier. These barriers range from metal railings to encapsulating buildings, to wooden fences and everything in between.
The material, design, or shape of the barrier is irrelevant, what’s important is that the function is performed properly; the function being keeping out those who are not adept swimmers from inadvertently falling into the water. The easiest potential victim to think of is a young child, though inebriated adults can fall victim just as easily.
It must also be noted that barriers need to be maintained. Time and use will wear down doors, fences, and gates. If the barrier is present but the function of keeping out at-risk populations is not performed, then it’s as if the barrier is not physically present at all.
It’s hard to picture a swimming pool without also thinking of the traditional accompanying lifeguard and their bright red lifesaver. However, such trained supervision is not the only standard to meet when ensuring that no drownings occur. A cautious adult who knows how to swim and who is paying attention to others present in the vicinity of the pool can prevent the loss of life just as well.
There are many different types of personal injury that pool-goers are at risk of suffering. Some of the most common injuries that occur include:
One of the most obvious types of pool injury is drowning or near-drowning.
Many individuals are not 100% comfortable in the water which can often lead to drowning. Other hazards, such as exceeding pool capacity and the lack of an active lifeguard, can result in pool drowning accidents.
While the area around the pool is designed with the understanding that slippery materials should be avoided during construction, there's only so much that can be done. At some point, surfaces become covered in water and are worn down to the point where they become a slip and fall hazard.
Such slip and fall accidents at a pool can lead to bone fracture, deep cuts, head & brain trauma, nerve injuries, ligament tears, and more.
The average public pool likely has rules against diving. Yet, they're not often enforced and many swimmers end up doing it anyway. Unfortunately, while many of these dives can be successful, it only takes one accident for an individual to suffer a severe personal injury.
Moreover, the risk of drowning is significantly increased in cases of diving pool injuries, given the fact that the victim is in the water and possibly incapacitated by their injury.
On the surface, a near-drowning may sound like a fortunate instance in which a person came close to drowning, however, they managed to survive the ordeal. Whether by their own efforts, by those of a nearby observer, or thanks to the prompt efforts of emergency responders, the drowning victim did not become another death statistic.
Unfortunately, for many persons whose experiences can be considered “near drownings,” the after-effects are hardly limited to traumatizing memories in the minds of victims and their loved ones. This is because a person, whether child or adult, who spends a significant amount of time underwater is starving their brain of the oxygen it needs to function.
This virtual asphyxiation can cause significant damage to our most vital cognitive organ, the brain, and cause injuries such as brain edemas or a hypoxic/ischemic cerebral injury. Additionally, other non-brain-specific injuries can manifest including hypothermia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pneumonia, pulmonary damage, and even cardiac arrest.
None of these adverse health effects resulting directly from a near-drowning can be considered mild. Individually, each has the potential to alter the physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities of the victim for the rest of their lives. If they occur concurrently, a drowning accident victim has a significantly reduced chance of surviving and an even smaller chance of leading a normal life.
Determining who is liable if someone suffers a personal injury at or drowns in a swimming pool can be very complicated. It is due to this same reason that filing a successful swimming pool injury lawsuit is quite difficult.
There are many entities that could be held liable for a pool injury or death. For instance, whenever a child drowns in a backyard pool, it is often the pool owners who are looked at as responsible. If no locked gate was installed around the pool, they can be held liable for damages.
When the incident occurs at a public pool, it is also the pool owner who can be considered responsible. In this case, it could be the city or county that manages the pool and they may be held liable.
The pool injury cases where the pool owners are held responsible for damages and injuries are usually based on the legal tenet of premises liability.
Premises liability speaks to the duty of care owed by the owner of a property to the visitors who step onto that property. Correspondingly, a pool owner owes any pool-goer the duty to maintain reasonably safe premises so that they may enjoy it without undertaking an unreasonable risk of suffering a personal injury.
Premises liability is the same basis upon which most slip and fall cases (such as at a grocery store or on a sidewalk) are built.
The legal concept of negligence is the foundation upon which many injury cases are built; likewise, it can also be used for those injured in a pool drowning incident to seek their deserved compensation. On the other hand, if a victim perishes in a pool drowning accident, the lawsuit would likely fall under the wrongful death category.
If the owner of a pool does not take adequate steps to ensure that their property abides by guidelines that aim to mitigate a drowning incident, then they may be found negligent and be ordered to pay compensation to victims by a court. If the drowning victim does not survive, the amount of compensation to be paid as the result of a wrongful death suit can be significantly greater.
What are some examples of pool negligence? Consider the drowning causes mentioned above.
For instance, if no barrier is placed around a pool when it’s first built, or the barrier has become so dilapidated (due to poor material choice) that it does not perform its intended function, then the pool owner could be held liable if someone falls in the pool and drowns. Likewise, if a public pool employs an untrained lifeguard and they are unprepared and incapable of preventing a fatal drowning while they are on duty, then the manager of the pool facility may also be found negligible.
Lastly, consider that pools must be constantly maintained to ensure they remain safe for swimmers and other pool-goers. Pool decks must not be uneven or unreasonably slippery when wet. Moreover, the chemicals in the pool water need to be at specific concentrations so as to avoid impacting the health of those who swim in them.
Like the aforementioned, there are many other instances where it can be proven that negligence resulted in a drowning. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible to seek compensation for a pool drowning via a legal claim, then it is recommended to discuss your case with a law firm.
Get in touch with the Legal Herald team today via our 24/7 helpline or the form on this page, and let us help put you in contact with an experienced drowning accident lawyer who will defend your rights and stand by your side in the pursuit of justice.