Injured in a Swimming Pool Accident?
When warm weather arrives, many people enjoy going for a swim at a residential, hotel, or casino pool. However, improper safety practices can result in severe harm to swimmers. This is especially true for children, as about 20 percent of drowning victims are under the age of fourteen.
Additionally, swimming injuries often result in hospitalization and can cause long-lasting complications such as brain damage. Severe brain damage can result in memory loss, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic motor skills such as writing, speaking or driving. Therefore, it is important for injured swimmers to get immediate medical attention and retain counsel. At Van Law Firm, we want to ensure your full recovery while also holding swimming pool owners and operators accountable for any negligence.
Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents
A swimming pool accident can be caused by a number of different factors, including but not limited to:
- Failure to cover or gate pools/hot tubs: Uncovered or improperly covered or secured pools and hot tubs can create an “attractive nuisance” which is especially dangerous with young children.
- Poor lighting: Insufficient lighting can result in slip and falls and other serious injuries in and around pools.
- Inadequate safety equipment: Broken,malfunctioning, or the complete lack of safety equipment such as life preservers can prevent rescue and result in drownings and near-drownings.
- Slippery surfaces: Wet surfaces around pools can cause slip and falls and other serious injuries.
- Untrainted/distracted lifeguards:A lifeguard who is not properly trained or is distracted (texting, etc.) can cause injuries to swimmers.
Injuries in Swimming Pool Accidents
There are more injuries that can arise from swimming pool accidents than just drownings or near-drownings. Other injuries can include:
- Diving Board Injuries
- Swimming Pool Slide Injuries
- Slips and Falls
- Pool Toy Entrapment
- Suction Entrapment
- Pool Drain Injuries
- Chemical Irritations and Injuries
Public vs. Private Liability and Lifeguard Requirements
Swimmers in a casino, resort, or hotel pool are considered “invitees,” which means they are owed the highest standard of care from property owners. Because invitees are typically visiting the property for the owner’s benefit (they are paying a fee to use the pool, etc.), the property owner is expected to:
- Actively find potential hazards
- Conduct regular inspections
- Operate the pool in accordance to code
- Remedy hazards immediately
- Warn guests of hazards while they are being remedied (ex: wet floor signs)
- Hire a sufficient amount of security and pool maintenance personnel (lifeguards, etc.)
- Plan and train for emergency incidents
- Develop standard protocols for emergency incidents
- Acquire the proper resources to run the pool area safely
Lifeguards and their regulations are a huge part of public swimming pool accidents. A facility is required to keep guards on staff if the pool area admits unsupervised children under 14 years old, or if the pool has a surface area of over 2,000 square feet. Additionally, a guard must be physically present at the pool whenever the number of swimmers exceeds 80 percent of the maximum capacity. Shift rotations must be done in such a way that no guard is on active watch for more than 60 consecutive minutes at a time. Any guard working in three or more feet of water needs to have a rescue tube on their person.
Even if a casino or resort had lifeguards present at the time of the accident, the owner will not be absolved of liability if they were distracted or unreasonably delayed in providing rescue services. Lifeguards around the country are expected to be able to follow the “10/20 rule,” which means that they should be in a position to identify a problem in 10 seconds and make it to the victim within 20 seconds after recognition. Lifeguard chairs or towers must be tall enough to see the entire surface area and bottom of the pool, and it must be in the shade or have overhead coverage.
In addition, public swimming facilities must have a wide array of safety equipment on site at all times, including:
- At least one spinal injury board with head and neck stabilizers
- Personal protective equipment such as resuscitation masks and latex gloves
- At least one Coast Guard-approved rescue throwing device
- At least one 12 to 16-foot reaching pole
When swimming injuries occur at a casino, hotel, or resort, multiple parties can be held liable. These parties can include the hotel, the swimming pool operator, the lifeguard company, and numerous insurance companies.
Fortunately, these pools usually have multiple security cameras that can capture swimming accidents. However, this footage is usually not stored for a long period of time. Therefore, injured swimmers should contact a Personal injury attorney immediately to ensure that this footage is preserved for a lawsuit.
When a homeowner invites guests to swim, there is an expectation that the hosts have made their property, particularly the swimming area, reasonably safe. The pool owner has an additional duty to warn guests of any hazards if it is likely that guests will encounter them. For instance, if there is a ladder or slide that is not properly functioning, the pool owner has an obligation to notify their guests.
Additionally, proper barriers/fences must be installed because improperly secured pools are considered “attractive nuisances.” For many states, an attractive nuisance is a condition or object on property that is likely to attract children. This means that the pool owner could be held liable for accidents, even if the child was not given permission to enter the pool.
When an injured swimmer sues an insured homeowner, the homeowner’s insurance policy will handle the litigation. If the injured party wins, the insurance company will pay for the plaintiff’s damages up to the limit of the homeowner’s coverage. If the plaintiff’s damages exceed the policy limit, the plaintiff can sue the homeowner individually for the difference.
Let us help you!
Swimming Pool Injury Attorneys
When you’re searching for trusted swimming pool injury attorneys, Van Law Firm is here to help. With hundreds of 5-star reviews online and over $50 million won for our clients to date, there’s no case we can’t handle. We have years of experience successfully negotiating with insurance companies and defense lawyers. Call our office nearest you today to get started with a free consultation.
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