Pool Safety & Children – Who is Responsible When Accidents Happen in the Pool?
Temperatures can be unbearable in Florida and everyone wants to cool off in the closest swimming pool. Unfortunately, swimming pools, whether public or private, come with significant risk for accidents and injuries. Drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1-4, and pool owners can face potential liability when these tragedies occur.
How Common Are Pool Accidents?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 356 child drowning deaths each year, which is nearly one per day. 77% of those fatalities involve children under the age of 5. Not all drowning incidents result in death, and some can lead to serious and life-changing injuries.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are roughly 6,400 non-fatal pool or spa-related drownings each year among children under the age of 15 that require emergency department (ED) treatment. Of these, the majority involve swimming pools and an average of 73% per year involve children under the age of 5.
Drowning is not the only tragic pool accident among children. Some others include pool drain entrapment, injuries from pool chemicals, slip and falls on a deck, and pool electrocution injuries. Serious injuries can occur in and around swimming pools that may require hospitalization and long-term care. Some of these include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
Who is Responsible When a Pool Accident Happens?
Property owners have a legal responsibility to provide a safe swimming area. If they fail to do this, whether the pool is at a home, condo, apartment, or hotel, they could be held responsible for any injuries or death sustained by children in their swimming pool.
Swimming pool accidents fall under an area of law known as premises liability. As a general rule, if the property owner was negligent and their negligence caused or contributed to your child’s injury or death, they could be held legally accountable for your damages. Some of the ways that your personal injury attorney can show negligence in these cases include:
- Inadequate pool maintenance
- Poor or malfunctioning pool lighting
- Missing safety equipment
- Defective parts in or around the pool
- Defective or malfunctioning diving boards
- Improperly trained staff
Pool owners may believe that they can eliminate liability with warnings signs and fences, but this is only partially effective. While these are requirements in most places to minimize drowning incidents, a pool owner may still be found negligent. The concept known as “attractive nuisance” will still hold a property owner responsible if a child trespasses and is injured or drowns in a private pool.
Pool Safety & Children
Swimming pools are a great way to cool off during the summer and a common source of family fun. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous for children. Poolsafety.gov recommends several pool safety tips to keep children free from harm.
- Teach children how to swim.
- Never leave a child unattended in or near a swimming pool.
- Teach children to avoid swimming pool drains.
- Install proper pool and spa barriers, covers, and alarms.
- Ensure that pools and spas have legally-compliant drain covers.
- Learn how to perform adult and child CPR.