Summer, Swimming Pools and Accident Liability
The beginning of summer marks the beginning of the swim season for most Americans. Unfortunately, spending more time at the neighborhood pool also means a higher risk for possible accidents, including drowning.
Protect yourself and your family from pool-related injuries by learning basic preventative steps and find out who is liable if an accident does occur.
Swimming pool injury statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings occurred each year in the U.S. between 2005 and 2014. That translates to approximately 10 drowning deaths per day in this country. Even more alarming is the fact that one in every five of those drownings are children age 14 and under.
Of that number, 76 percent involved children under the age of five and 67 percent involved children between the ages of one and three. Three-fourths of those deaths occurred at a residential pool, including in-ground and above-ground pools as well as smaller portable pools often referred to as kiddie pools.
There are many steps parents can take to keep their children safer around swimming pools, particularly a pool at the child’s own home. First, install a fence or other type of barrier around the pool that is at least four feet high. Include a locking gate and protect the entrance with an alarm. Make sure your pool is equipped with rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers in case an accident does occur.
Know the factors that contribute to drowning risk. These include lack of swimming ability in both adults and children. Even young children can participate in swimming classes that will greatly reduce their risk for drowning. In addition, make sure children are closely supervised when they are in the pool by watching your own children and insisting your guests do the same. Do not serve alcohol poolside since alcohol use is associated with as many as 70 percent of deaths involving water recreation.
Liability in pool accidents
Liability in pool accidents often falls under premises liability law since a pool is considered a part of the person’s or company’s property. Premises liability applies to those who pay to use the pool or those who are in the pool by personal invitation. Under these rules, pool owners are required to properly maintain the pool to keep it safe for use and provide adequate warning about any potential hazards to guests.
Premises liability rules do not typically apply to people that enter and use the pool without permission. The exception is for children who might enter the pool without the owner’s consent or knowledge. Pool owners have a responsibility to make the pool inaccessible to youngsters, by including a four-foot barrier or fence with a locking gate to prohibit entry.
Because the rules governing liability in swimming pool accidents can be complex, victims of such accidents should seek competent legal assistance to help them navigate their case and protect their rights. A personal injury attorney who specializes in premises liability claims can help you weigh all of the factors that will go into determining who is responsible for injuries or an unintentional drowning.
The Sanders Firm works with victims of swimming pool accidents and their families, helping them pursue fair compensation and justice. To get a free evaluation of your case and answers to all your legal questions, contact our NY law offices today at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.
- CBS News, Drowning Risks: Even Kiddie Pools Pose Danger, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/drowning-risks-even-kiddie-pools-pose-danger/
- CDC, Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts, http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html
- PoolSafely.gov, Drowning Deaths and Injuries Infographic, http://www.poolsafely.gov/news/drowning-deaths-and-injuries-infographic/
- Stanford Children’s Health, Water Safety – Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates, http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=water-safety--injury-statistics-and-incidence-rates-90-P03004