Many swimming pool accidents result from people fooling around or not supervising young children closely enough. However, others result from negligence on the part of the pool owner/manager. Here is what you need to know about swimming pool accidents: the duty of care, the different types, liability, and more.
What Is The Duty Of Care For Swimming Pool Accidents?
The duty of care varies, depending on why the person is at the pool.
- Trespassers are there without permission. The pool owner/manager typically has little to no duty of care to warn about hazards. Young children who can access the pool are the exception under the attractive nuisance doctrine.
- Licensees are people who have permission to be on the property, like a party at your house. You must warn of any hazardous conditions that you know about, including safety warnings and fencing.
- Invitees are people who are there because the pool is public or part of business, like apartment residents. You must warn all visitors of known hazards and dangers and conduct reasonable inspections for such hazards.
Types Of Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pool accidents/injuries include:
- Entrapment drowning
- Near drowning
- Pool slide accidents
- Diving board accidents
- Entrapment under pool toys/floaties
- Slip and fall accidents
- Pool chemical accidents
- Electrical injuries
Injuries from swimming pool accidents can include: broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, disembowelment/evisceration, and death. Traumatic brain, neck, and spinal cord injuries are the most common. Injuries around pools put people at greater risk of drowning, especially children.
While drowning is not always fatal, it certainly can be. Drowning can happen very quickly, and very quietly due to lack of ability to motion or yell for help.
What Can Cause Swimming Pool Accidents
People horsing around can cause swimming pool accidents, as can fighting.
Children can drown in the amount of time it takes to answer a phone. Children must be watched closely when in or around water. Drowning can happen in any water, even if it’s incredibly shallow.
Teenagers are more likely to have swimming accidents related to drugs and alcohol. The CDC states that about 70% of swimming pool deaths involve alcohol, due to impaired judgment and lack of coordination.
In addition to these instances, issues around the pool itself can lead to swimming pool accidents. This can lead to a premise liability case, as pool owners/managers have a duty to maintain their property in a safe manner and can be held liable if accidents occur on property due to owner’s negligence. Some of these instances are as follows.
- Loose pool ladders can cause people to fall
- Rusted diving boards can cause nasty cuts
- Unmarked shallow ends can cause spinal injuries if people dive
- Smooth/slick pavement can cause slip and fall injuries (should have traction, cracks should be repaired promptly, algae should be taken care of/prevented)
- Pumps must have specific devices installed to prevent suction entrapment
- Pools must have at least a 4 foot fence around them for security, with gates
- Equipment must be maintained and secured
- Spills, like sunscreen, ice cream, drinks, can make slippery surfaces
- Clutter like pool toys can make people trip
- Poorly constructed diving boards or pool slides can cause serious injuries
Proper signage informing people of dangers around the pool and pool rules is important and a key part of reducing swimming pool accidents.
How To Reduce Swimming Pool Accidents
People should be advised on how to reduce their risk of swimming pool accidents, such as:
- No running/walking slowly
- Wearing shoes with traction
- No diving in shallow areas
- Using flotation devices/children especially
- Ensuring there is a lifeguard on duty (public pools)
- Locating rescue flotation devices/reaching poles before getting in
- Ensuring that there are safety drain covers
- Learning CPR in case an emergency occurs
- Knowing local laws for pools/ensuring yours meets all requirements
- maintaining pool regularly/cleaning up spills/messes as they occur
- Placing no-slip mats where water tends to accumulate
- Preventing diving boards/ladders/etc from becoming slippery
When Can Pool Owners Be Held Liable For Swimming Pool Accidents?
People using the pool have a duty to obey safety signs and warnings. Children should be supervised carefully. However, if injury occurred due to pool owner/managers’ negligence, you may be able to hold them responsible. A personal injury lawyer will be able to work with you and tell you whether or not you have a case on your hands.
Property owner may be held liable if:
- They knowingly failed to eliminate hazards they were aware of
- They failed to eliminate hazards they had time and opportunity to learn of but failed to
- They failed to provide appropriate signage about the hazards
- They failed to hire/delegate staff to maintain safety/cleanliness of pool area
- Improper lighting
- Improper barriers around pools
- Failure to adhere to local ordinances/state laws
- Lack of depth markers
- Lack of safety equipment
- Unrestricted access
- Overcrowding/not having a limit to how many people are allowed in the pool/the pool area
- Poorly trained/distracted lifeguards
However if warning signs were ignored or the pool owner/manager could not have reasonably known about the hazard prior to the accident, they likely cannot be held liable.
Plus, sometimes it is not the pool owner who is responsible for an issue, but the manufacturer of the pool or pool equipment. The manufacturer of the pool or pool equipment may be held liable for defective products and accidents or deaths that result.
Do You Need A Personal Injury Attorney?
LeBaron & Jensen is here to help. We represent clients from Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona. If you think you have a personal injury case on your hands, please don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule your free consultation. If you do have a case, you don’t need to worry about paying a fee until we win.