Have You or Someone You Know Been Involved in a Drowning or Near-Drowning?
Every time warm weather comes around, people around the country flock to both public and residential swimming pools to beat the heat with some fun by the water. Unfortunately, an uptick in pool traffic almost always translates to an increase in swimming pool drownings and near-drownings. Young children are especially susceptible–1 in 5 drowning victims is younger than 14.
Water-related injuries such as drowning and near-drownings only take moments to develop, but they often cause permanent complications such as paralysis and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Not to mention, negligent property owners and opposing insurers love to pull these claims apart in hopes of paying less or nothing at all in some cases. As a result, injured swimmers and their families need to retain qualified swimming pool drowning attorneys in order to preserve any pertinent evidence and maximize potential compensation. At Van Law Firm, we specialize in doing just that–call our office nearest you now to get started.
Frequent Causes of Drownings and Other Swimming Pool Accidents
After years of litigating swimming pool cases, we’ve learned that it really does not take much to cause a serious drowning incident or other water-related injury. Here are some of the most common risk factors:
Uncovered or unsecured swimming areas: Pools and spas that are not properly secured or covered are an injury risk for patrons and a liability risk for property owners. Some states enforce “attractive nuisance” laws, where owners can still be held liable for young children who enter unsecured areas without permission.
Bad lighting: Poor visibility is never a good thing when it comes to safety. If swimmers do not know exactly where they are in and around the pool, the chances of drowning are increased significantly.
Insufficient safety measures: Every pool must have the proper safety equipment on hand, including individual devices such as life floats and built-in features like ladders and guard rails.
Wet surfaces: There’s a reason why the best lifeguards are the ones constantly telling you not to run, and that is because a large number of drownings happen after a swimmer has slipped outside the pool and then fallen in.
Inadequate lifeguards/safety staff: Conversely, the worst lifeguards are the ones who don’t say anything, or are not present at all. Lifeguards are often the only safety measure in place, and so they had better be up to par.
Differences in Liability and Safety Requirements
Patrons of a business where a pool is present, such as a hotel, are considered “invitees.” That means that legally, they are owed the highest level of care because they are paying customers. As such, property owners must:
- Operate pool equipment and systems in accordance with safety codes
- Keep an appropriate amount of safety, security and maintenance staff on hand
- Hold regular inspections
- Address potential hazards and remedy them immediately
- Notify patrons of hazards that are being fixed (signage, barriers)
- Be proactive in training for emergency situations and develop protocols
- Actively acquire any resources needed
As mentioned above, lifeguards are a huge aspect of all swimming pool accidents, including drownings. If a pool’s surface area is larger than 2,000 square feet or if unsupervised children under 14 can be admitted, at least one guard must be on staff. Furthermore, if there are enough swimmers present to fill 80 percent or more of the pool’s maximum capacity, at least one guard must be on hand ready to assist. For high-traffic pools, guards must be rotated so that no one is on active watch for longer than an hour at a time.
Owners will not be absolved from all liability just because there were guards on site. Any distraction or delay in administering aid is likely to be deadly, and so all guards are expected to adhere to the “10/20 rule,” which asserts that a problem should be identified within 10 seconds and the guard should be able to reach the victim within 20 seconds after that. Chairs or stands must be high enough to view the entire bottom and surface of the pool.
Additionally, all facilities must keep the following equipment on hand:
- A 12 to 16-foot pole used to extract victims
- A Coast Guard-approved throwing device
- A spinal injury board or stretcher with head and neck ties
- PPE such as sterile gloves and resuscitation masks
Determining the party at fault for a drowning accident can be tricky, as the defendant could be the property owner, the lifeguard staffing company, insurers, and even product manufacturers. Luckily for accident victims, almost all public venues have ample security cameras and footage, which can be vital in determining fault. Keep in mind, however, that this footage doesn’t last long, so it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney so that all pertinent evidence is preserved.
If a homeowner has invited guests over with the direct or implied intention of swimming, they too must ensure that their property is reasonably safe (although the level of expectation is not quite as high as paying customers). They must also notify all guests of potential hazards before they encounter them.
In some ways, proper barriers and security are more important for residential pool owners than public, as they are more likely to find themselves in an “attractive nuisance” situation. As previously stated, these laws hold pool owners accountable for accidents involving young children. If an injured swimmer files suit against a homeowner who is insured, the insurer will handle most of the litigation. The homeowner’s policy will cover the swimmer’s damages, but if they exceed the policy limits, the plaintiff may sue for the difference.
Let us help you!
Contact Swimming Pool Drowning Attorneys
If you or a loved one has experienced a drowning or near-drowning that was the fault of another, don’t wait any longer to come forward with legal action. The swimming pool drowning attorneys from Van Law Firm are standing by to take your call and preserve your rights. The damage these accidents cause is severe, and so the punishment should be as well. Call our office nearest you today to get started on the path toward compensation.