Approximately ten people die from accidental drowning every day in the U.S. Twenty percent of all unintentional drownings are children under 15 years old, and for every child who dies from drowning, another five children receive medical treatment for submersion injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children under 15 years old.
But drowning is not the only thing to worry about at the pool. Improper drains, inadequate supervision, lack of signage, and lack of barriers to the pool can also cause serious accidents in a swimming pool.
Swimming pool accidents fall under the umbrella of premises liability, meaning a pool owner can be held liable for injuries sustained on the property due to lack of maintenance, negligent supervision, or unsafe conditions.
What Kinds of Injuries Are Caused by Swimming Pool Accidents?
Drowning is the most apparent risk in swimming pool incidents. Drowning can happen fast; 77 percent of those involved in drowning accidents had been missing for five minutes or less when found in the pool. Even if a drowning does not result in death, non-fatal drownings can lead to serious medical conditions, including long-term disabilities, memory problems, learning disabilities, and loss of basic body functions.
Spinal cord injuries are a catastrophic consequence of unsafe pool conditions. If a swimming pool is too shallow to support a diving board, swimmers can dive in and injure their head or neck.
Chemical burns are a health hazard that arises from adding too many chemicals to a swimming pool. Certain chemicals, like chlorine, are essential for maintaining and cleaning the water in the pool, but adding too much can lead to serious chemical burns.
Slip and fall accidents are a predictable risk at swimming pools. While most slip and fall accidents are simply a result of excess water around the pool area, the pool owner has a responsibility to install proper concrete that minimizes the risk of slip and fall incidents.
What Are the Common Causes of Swimming Pool Injuries?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to swimming pool injuries, including:
- Unsafe or illegal drains: If a swimming pool or hot tub drain is installed that does not meet reasonable safety standards, it can cause serious injury. The vacuum suction of pool drains is powerful enough to hold swimmers underwater, particularly children. Improper drains can pull swimmers down, causing them to drown, or it can even disembowel unsuspecting swimmers.
- Improper supervision: When it comes to public pools, owners have a responsibility to provide proper supervision, including proper training for lifeguards. Properly trained lifeguards should be able to identify at-risk swimmers, prevent drowning, and perform CPR when necessary. If a lifeguard was negligent and failed to prevent a serious injury, there could be cause for a personal injury lawsuit.
- Improper signage: Public pool owners must install proper signage to warn patrons of the risks of entering the pool. Signs should disclose the risks of diving in shallow water, as well as caution against running on the pool deck.
- Lack of barriers to the pool: Private pool owners have a duty to the public to make sure their pools are blocked off from easy entrance. If pools are left without barriers, children can wander into the area and accidentally drown.
Who Is Liable for a Swimming Pool Injury?
Under premises liability, there are typically three types of “entrants” to a property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Pool owners have a different level of responsibility for the safety of each type of entrant.
Public pool visitors are typically classified as invitees, meaning pool owners have a responsibility to maintain and repair the pool to ensure it is safe for visitors. Guests of a pool on private property are usually licensees, which means pool owners must warn visitors of safety hazards that are not readily apparent.
The attractive nuisance doctrine states that pool owners must make reasonable efforts to prevent children from entering them without the owner’s knowledge, such as putting up a fence or other barrier to the pool.
What Can You Win in a Swimming Pool Injury Case?
There are a number of factors that can affect a personal injury case, including the circumstances of your accident, the ownership of the pool, and the extent of your injuries. A top-rated personal injury lawyer will be able to help you identify the extent of potential damages.
In a personal injury case, you and your attorney could seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income and future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
There is no limit on compensatory damages in the state of New Jersey, meaning you are entitled to full compensation for costs incurred by the negligence of a pool owner.
How Can You Prevent Pool Injuries?
Accidents are an unfortunate part of life, but there are several steps you can take to keep you or your children safe from swimming pool injuries.
When visiting a pool, always:
- Supervise children around water. Even if they know how to swim, drowning can happen fast and without warning.
- Teach children not to run or mess around near the pool area.
- Insist that babysitters and other caretakers know CPR (and learn it yourself) in case of an emergency.
- Keep a phone nearby when swimming in case you need to call 911 for an emergency.
- Check the pool first if a child is missing.
- Avoid diving into a pool if you don’t know how deep it is. Never dive into a pool that is less than 6 feet deep.
- Avoid swimming during thunderstorms. Never swim until at least half an hour after you hear thunder or see lightning.
If you own your own pool, make sure to:
- Keep basic safety equipment (i.e. a pole, rope, and flotation devices) near the pool area and make sure everyone knows how to use it in case of an emergency.
- Post CPR instructions near the pool.
- Keep toys away from the water when they are not in use so that children are not tempted to enter the pool alone.
- Secure pool covers when the pool is not in use, and make sure they are completely removed before anyone uses the pool
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a child has suffered a swimming pool-related injury, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. The experienced team of trial lawyers will be able to investigate your unique case and see if the injury was a result of negligence on the part of the pool owner. The initial consultation is always free and confidential, and there are no fees until Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi win your case.