Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming is one of the most popular recreational activities in the U.S., especially for children. In Southern California, pools are a major draw all year round for residents and tourists alike. The Los Angeles metro region has one of the highest numbers of recreational pools per capita.
Unfortunately, pools are also quite dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 10 people die every day of unintentional drowning, and two of those are under the age of 14. Drowning is the fifth-highest cause of unintentional injury death in the nation.
Pool accidents can also result in spinal cord injuries and paralysis or brain damage if one dives in a too-shallow area or is carelessly pushed in at an awkward angle.
At Fakhimi & Associates, Trial Attorneys, our Los Angeles swimming pool accident attorneys recognize these accidents can have drastic consequences. The loss of a child or other loved one to a sudden, tragic pool accident can be shattering. Even if one survives a pool accident, they may suffer permanent disability and a profound impact on their socio-professional status and interpersonal relationships. There are also significant costs to society.
In many of these cases, swimming pool accidents happen due to the carelessness or negligence of another. Some of these entities might include:
- Owners of private, residential swimming pools
- Owners of property with private or commercial pools for the benefit of guests, members or tenant (i.e., hotels, apartment complexes, health clubs, etc.)
- Owners of government property (i.e., municipal swimming pools open to the public)
- Possessors/operators of property with a pool (i.e., renters)
- Manufacturers of the pool, spa or pool-related products
- Other guests at the pool
It’s important in any civil action to properly identify all defendants in order to ensure full recovery of damages.
Types of Pool Accident Negligence
By law, property managers and/or owners of these pools have to protect guests from hazards.
Some of those include:
- Failure to ensure gates and fences are functional
- Lifeguards not on duty as advertised
- Lifeguards not properly trained
- Slides and diving boards poorly-maintained
- Depth markings inaccurate or ill-maintained
- Improper chemical balance, resulting in illness
- Improper chemical balance resulting in murky water contributing to drowning
- Failure to install warning signs of possible dangers
- Failure to ensure surfaces surrounding pool are slip-resistant
- Failure to properly supervise children in the pool
- Failure to ensure children cannot gain access to the pool unsupervised
These types of claims – stemming from responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of property managers, landlords or pool owners – are known as premises liability. That is, a property owner or person controlling the property owed a duty to ensure it was safe for guests, and failed in that duty, resulting in serious injury or death.
Note that pools are recognized as an “attractive nuisance” to children. What that means is children, because of their youth, inexperience and curiosity, will be drawn to certain sites or objects or features without fully recognizing the danger. Property owners or managers must be aware of this possibility and take steps to safeguard against unsupervised entry by children to a pool area. It’s this legal principle that allows parents to recover damages from property owners for child injury or drownings that occurred even when the children were trespassing on the property.
Another kind of claim that may arise from pool accidents and injuries would be one of products liability. This is not necessarily dependent on anyone’s negligence because it’s based on a legal theory known as “strict liability.” Rather than proving someone made a mistake or acted carelessly, plaintiff need only show a certain product was defective and that defect resulted in injury. Some examples may include:
- Defect in pool leads to unclear depth perception
- Defect with walking surface leads to it being too slippery/ unsafe
- Defect with underwater pool drain or suction leads to drowning risk
- Defect in water slid that can result in falls or other injuries
- Defect or inadequate instruction for safe use of floatation devices, pool toys or equipment
Finally, there may be grounds for litigation against an individual for ordinary negligence for acts like horseplay or even criminal actions, such as intentional battery.
There may be some cases in which the actions would be covered under homeowners’ insurance, even if the one carrying out the horseplay wasn’t the homeowner. Criminal actions usually aren’t covered by insurance, but one could take action against a person for their personal assets.
California Swim Safety Regulations
In recognizing the potential danger of swimming pools, the state of California has adopted a number of regulations that govern pool design, pool manufacturing and pool maintenance. Those laws include:
- California Health and Safety Code Section 115920-115929– Swimming Pool Safety Act. Governs residential swimming pool requirements.
- California Health and Safety Code Section 115950-115952 – Wave Pool Safety Act. Governs swimming pools designed for the purpose of breaking wave action in water not designed for stand-up surfing or bodyboarding.
- California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Division 4, Chapter 20 – Public Swimming Pools. Covers regulations regarding public pools.
- California Building Code, Title 24 – Public Swimming Pools. Covers building code requirements for public swimming pools.
- Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act – Governs spa and swimming pool suction systems.
If you or a loved one suffered as a result of a swimming pool accident, call our offices today to learn more about how we can help.
Contact the injury lawyers at Fakhimi & Associates, Trial Attorneys, by calling (888) 291-6513. Serving the Southern California counties of Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside.
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