As the weather gets warmer, pools are opening and children are out of school
and playing outside. Public pools are opening and landowners are getting
their private pools ready for the summer. Too often, however, what starts
out as fun, ends in tragedy.
Experienced Kingston pool accident attorneys know that drowning accidents
lead to almost 3,500 deaths every year. A significant portion of these
deaths happen in swimming pools when a person falls into a pool, or when
defective apparatus’ cause the injury. Often times, a bather is
injured while jumping into a pool.
The accident statistics are eye opening and liability can arise to the
owner or operator of a pool if something could have or should have been
done to prevent the type of harm that ended up coming about. Whether the
accident was due to negligent supervision, or from a
slip and fall, serious injuries commonly occur. Falls can lead to brain and spinal cord
injuries, neck injuries, fractured bones, and even death.
Center for Disease Control reports that ten unintentional drownings occur daily in the United States. 20%
of these deaths are suffered by children under the age of fifteen. If
downing related to boating incidents is factored in, the death toll is
So who is most at risk? Children aged one to four years swimming in their
backyard pools. Also, drowning is the number two cause of death due to
accidental injuries for children aged one to fourteen. Minorities are
also at greater risk of accidental drowning; three times as much for African-American
children verses Caucasian children. The greatest disparity is found between
males and females; males account for almost 80% of all accidental drowning.
Even though a drowning occurred accidentally, there may still be some party
who is liable for the death or injury. If a child is injured or dies in a
swimming pool accident and people were charged with supervising the pool or swimmers, the responsible
people can be held liable under a theory of negligent supervision.
The injured party, or the family of the decedent, would allege that the
pool operator or owner owed a duty to the swimmer to prevent the harm
that came about. It would also be pleaded that the defendant breached
that duty; the breach caused the injury; the plaintiff suffered measurable
damages. If lifeguards were on duty and they failed to rescue a bather
when they should have, there may be an actionable case of negligence.
Attentive supervision can sometimes prevent swimming pool
deaths and injuries, and so too can following basic safety rules. The most common
pool safety rule that I am sure all people remember from childhood is,
no running! Parents scream it, signs mark the prohibition, and lifeguards
admonish children who run around swimming pools.
The reason that running is prohibited in pool areas is mostly quite obvious;
the surfaces are hard and wet. The probability of slipping is high and
the consequences are great; a fall can easily render a bather unconscious
and floating in a body of water. Moreover, preventing this type of accident
is cost-free; walking comes at no cost in terms of increased safety.
Pool owners and public pool operators can do other low cost safety precautions
such as performing maintenance to ladders, stairs, and diving boards.
The consequences of improper supervision, failures to obey pool safety
rules, and poorly maintain swimming pool areas are simply too great to
warrant any type of neglect or negligence. As mentioned above, death is
a too common occurrence. Even if the swimmer survives the accident, the
injuries may be catastrophic. Slipping and falling on hard surfaces can
easily cause a bone fracture. If a person’s head comes into contact
with the hard surface, a skull may be fractured and neck vertebrae can
break. The result may be brain swelling and nerve damage. Paralysis might
be the end result.
Whether the paralysis is temporary or permanent, the costs of recovery
will be staggering. The initial emergency care is costly and painful;
rehabilitation may take months, if not years. Long term care could continue
indefinitely. Each of these things is compensable.