Just picture it—the glint of the hot Florida sun shining off of the crystal clear waters of your private backyard swimming pool. You dive in and feel the refreshing blast of cool water against your skin. You come back out and lay down in the hot sun to get yourself a nice tan. For many Americans, this sounds like the perfect weekend activity to put the icing on the cake called the American Dream. The last thing that most people think of when they dive into their pool is the potential for injury and, ultimately, legal action. But that is something you should consider before you build a pool in your back yard.
Swimming Pool Injuries by the Numbers
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta has issued a warning about the potential dangers of swimming pools. For very young children (those younger than four), drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death. Many of these are in tubs, but the CDC points out that the presence of a pool is the single greatest risk factor for drowning. Even if the accident isn’t fatal, it can still lead to serious injury. For every child under 15 who is killed by drowning in a pool, ten more children are injured in pools. These injuries, although not fatal, do require emergency care and often hospitalization. They can also lead to long-term disabilities including brain damage, learning disabilities, motor skill and physical function disabilities, and memory issues.
How to stay safe at the pool
If you are hanging out by the pool, there are several things you can do to keep yourself and your family and friends safe. These include:
- First and foremost, make sure that you keep an eye on all of the children who are in the pool area. Children should never be left unsupervised in or near a pool because of the risk of drowning. Additionally, you shouldn’t leave an adult alone if they aren’t a strong swimmer.
- Make sure that the area surrounding the pool is clear of obstructions. Slip and fall accidents can cause someone to fall into the pool and drown or it can also lead to serious injuries if a person falls and hits the concrete patio. Make sure that lawn furniture is stable and that all pool toys and other paraphernalia are put up.
- If you are the pool owner, make sure that all of the equipment is working properly, the pool is cleaned and the chemicals are at the appropriate levels. These can cause a variety of injuries including causing chemical burns and breathing issues such as asthma attacks. Also make sure that chemicals are properly stored as these can be lethal if they are ingested by someone such as a child.
- Most home swimming pools are not deep enough for swimmers to dive in head-first. If you dive in like this, you could wind up with a serious spinal cord injury (including paralysis) as well as a traumatic brain injury. Because of this, make sure that you and your guests don’t try to show off with any dives into the pool.
- If you own a pool and leave home, you can still be held responsible if someone sneaks onto your property and gets injured in the pool. To prevent this, invest in a five foot or taller security fence around the pool area along with a motion-sensitive alarm system that will go off if someone breaks the surface of the water.
Legal rights if you are injured in a swimming pool accident
If you are visiting someone else’s home and are injured in a pool accident, you do have legal rights. If the accident occurred as a result of the pool owner’s negligence, then you must show the following points to prove your case in court:
- The pool owner owed you a legal obligation or duty of “reasonable care” to protect you from injuries.
- The owner failed to maintain this duty or obligation.
- The owner’s failure to maintain this duty is what directly caused your injury.
- You suffered a serious injury from the accident.
If you can prove all of these points, then chances are you have a strong case for negligence in a personal injury claim. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a pool owner’s negligence, then you need to move quickly to protect your legal rights. Contact the attorneys of Wolf & Pravato for a free consultation so that we can review your case and let you know exactly what your options are.
Article Updated May 30, 2017
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