In his kind of weather, children and adults alike are ready to take a dip in the pool. The water offers a refreshing response to the summer heat. For most Oklahomans, swimming is a fun way to cool off and get some exercise.
But swimming pools pose many dangers to younger children, including risks of drowning, slips and falls, and other injuries. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly ten fatal, non-boating, drowning accidents occur in America each day. About 20% of these drownings are children under 15 years of age, and more than half of drowning victims who are treated in an ER require hospitalization or need to be transferred for more care.
People who are lucky enough to survive a drowning accident may suffer long-term, even permanent injuries, such as:
- Brain damage
- Cognitive disabilities and memory problems
- Permanent loss of limb function from spinal and neck injuries
- Permanent vegetative state or coma
- Bone fractures
In addition to the danger of drowning, some of the other swimming pool hazards are:
- Slips and falls. Swimming pool areas are very slippery. Kids who run around the pool can easily slip and fall as they run. Anyone entering or exiting the pool can slip and fall on the wet surfaces. Anyone who slips and falls may suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and other severe injuries.
- Chemical burns and inhalation. Pools use chemicals to keep sanitary. If the chemicals aren’t handled properly, swimmers may suffer chemical burns or reactions. Inhaling certain chemicals can also caused irreparable lung damage.
- Pool drains. Pool drains, through suction, can entrap a person’s body, hair, or clothing. Older drains are especially likely to entrap someone. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is a federal law that was passed to help reduce the risk of suction entrapment.
Who is liable for drowning and swimming pool accidents?
Where the injury occurs can determine liability for it. For example, if your child is injured at a public pool or water park, the facility would likely be liable. If your child gets hurt at someone else’s home because, for example, the ladder wasn’t secured, then you may need to file a claim against that person’s homeowners’ insurance. Pool manufacturers may also be liable if the pool or parts of the pool are defective, the defect causes an accident, and the accident causes the drowning or pool injuries.
Is the pool injury a premises liability claim?
The owners of the pool have a duty to keep their property safe from anyone who uses the pool with their permission. If children die or are hurt, the owners may even be liable on the theory that that the pool created an attractive nuisance for the child. Property owners need to take a variety of steps to ensure the safety of the people who use their pools including:
- Having lifeguards while the pool is open
- Designing the pool to minimize the risk of slips and falls
- Complying with federal, state, and local pool safety laws
- Installing fencing to prevent unauthorized users from swimming or entering the pool
The responsible parties for any swimming pool accident on the property of another may include
- Private pool owners
- Municipal pool owners
- Hotels and motels
- Maintenance companies
If a child or adult loved one tragically dies due to a drowning accident, the family can file a wrongful death claim against the responsible parties. When children die, the parents can demand compensation for their grief and loss of companionship and the costs of the funeral and burial. Additional damages, such as lost pecuniary benefits, may be awarded when adults die in a drowning accident.
At Cunningham & Mears, our experienced Oklahoma City swimming pool accident lawyers have the experience and resources to help you get justice. We work with investigators and industry professionals to help show how the accident occurred and what steps should have been taken to prevent the accident. We negotiate just settlements and try your cases before a jury when necessary to obtain justice. If a loved one died or was seriously injured or if you were hurt in a pool accident, speak with a strong advocate. Call our Oklahoma City office at 405.232.1212 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More