Who Can Be Liable for Swimming Pool Accidents and Injury?
July 25, 2022
Spending the day at the pool is a fun part of summer for many people. Unfortunately, swimming pools are also places where there are serious risks of accidents and injuries. The two most common swimming pool accident injuries are drownings and slip and falls. While drowning accidents are particularly tragic, slip and fall accidents occur much more frequently. Even a simple slip and fall can result in severe and potentially long-lasting injuries.
Drowning accidents can often occur in swimming pools, leaving families heartbroken. The elderly and children are at the greatest risk for drowning accidents.
Common causes of drowning accidents include the following:
- Broken or defective pool ladders and pumps.
- Improper water levels.
- Negligent or improperly trained lifeguards.
- Poor swimming pool equipment maintenance.
- Improper placement of emergency safety and floatation devices.
- Poor overall pool construction.
- Diving accidents.
In addition to the threat of death due to drowning, inhalation of water into the lungs can lead to severe life-changing injuries. “Dry drowning” and “secondary drowning” are terms referring to the delayed symptoms experienced after a person has been submersed in the water.
Dry drowning occurs when someone takes in a small amount of water through their nose or mouth, causing a spasm that closes up the airway. Dry drowning can be disturbing for everyone involved and lead to dangerous respiratory distress in children. Although the child might initially appear fine, symptoms can appear as late as 24 hours after the initial incident.
Secondary drowning happens when a little bit of water gets into the lungs, resulting in inflammation or swelling. This causes the body to struggle to exchange air properly through the lungs, which can result in a build-up of carbon dioxide and dangerously low levels of oxygen. With secondary drowning accidents, there can be a delay of up to 48 hours before the person shows signs of distress.
Survivors of dry drowning and secondary drowning accidents are likely to suffer some form of brain damage. Liability in any drowning accident is dependent on a number of factors. These include where the drowning accident happened, who was in charge or responsible, and if a product involved in the accident was defective.
The following parties can be found liable for a drowning accident depending on the location:
- Property owner.
- Tenant of the property.
- Neighborhood or condominium association.
- Recreational center.
- Day camp.
- Hotel or resort.
- States, cities, or municipalities.
These parties are required by law to provide safe conditions that protect the guests, also known as invitees, who visit their property. If they fail to do so and an injury occurs as a result, they can be held liable.
Similarly, product manufacturers, installers, and retailers can be liable if a defective or improperly installed product caused a drowning accident.
Defective products that can result in pool accidents include:
- Pool filters: Pool filters can malfunction due to compressed air within the filter. They can launch up to several feet from a pool, project sharp objects, and even explode.
- Pool pumps and drains: Suction entrapment is common and dangerous with defective pool drains and pumps. Swimmers’ hair or bathing suits can get sucked into a drain, resulting in them being stuck underwater and possibly drowning.
- Pool safety equipment: Life jackets and ring buoys that do not work properly in the event of an emergency can lead to serious consequences.
- Pool gates and barriers: Pool gates or barriers are essential to prevent any unwanted access, especially at times when the pool is not being monitored. Pool gates can fail if their structures or latching mechanisms are faulty or do not work properly.
- Pool accessories: Ladders, diving boards, and slides can be dangerous if manufactured incorrectly or improperly installed.
Drowning accidents can bring devastating emotional pain and suffering to the victim and their families, as well as create tremendous expenses with medical bills.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and falls commonly occur at the poolside due to slippery surfaces or items left out in walkways. If pool owners fail to keep their pools safe by attending to such hazards and someone is injured as a result, they can be held liable for their negligent behavior.
Many people are unaware of how dangerous slip and fall accidents can be to them. Slip and fall accidents often cause severe injuries, including the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Broken bone and fractures.
- Sprains, tears, and other soft tissue injuries.
- Chronic neck and back problems.
- Bruises and lacerations.
- Electrical shock and electrocution.
Many of these injuries can be long-lasting and require a significant amount of medical treatment and rehabilitation. Pool guests who fall and land on their head or neck can be left with permanent disabilities and may not be able to return to work or enjoy everyday activities.
The primary grounds for a public pool slip and fall lawsuit is one in negligence, claiming that the entity in charge failed to properly maintain the swimming pool area and this was the cause of the injury.
Improper pool maintenance can create many hazards that increase the risk of a slip and fall accident, including:
- Uneven surfaces in and around the pool.
- Damaged pool stairs.
- Broken pool ladders.
- Tripping hazards left out in walkways.
- Spilled beverages or sunscreen lotions.
- Broken or missing tiles.
- Missing or damaged rubber safety mats.
- Lack of proper warning signage.
- Slippery diving boards.
- Defective or faulty pool equipment.
- Violation of federal or state pool safety regulations.
- Lack of measures to prevent pool access to unsupervised children.
Most public pools are owned by the state, city, or municipality. Usually, the owner or controller of the public pool is the party named as the defendant in a premises liability lawsuit. If the entity responsible for public pool maintenance negligently failed to keep the premises safe for invited guests as well as trespassers, that entity may be held liable for the injuries and related medical care.
A skilled premises liability lawyer can help you understand who is responsible for properly maintaining the public pool, provide evidence of what caused the accident, as well as proof of subsequent injuries and related bills in order to achieve a fair settlement. An experienced premises liability lawyer will also know if the owner of the public pool is guilty of inadequate property maintenance, defective equipment, lack of proper lifeguard supervision, or violating pool safety regulations.
Let Us Help You After a Swimming Pool Accident
After a slip and fall accident, you may find yourself facing an extensive recovery process, costly medical bills, lost income, physical pain, and emotional trauma. One of our experienced premises liability lawyers can help you hold the negligent party responsible for their actions.
We have a reputation and history of successful outcomes for our clients. One of our past cases:
- $400,000 settlement for client injured at amusement park. Our client was injured at a popular Pennsylvania amusement park while attempting to access an emergency stairway after a ride stopped 20 feet in the air. He slipped and fell on a wet surface, causing him to aggravate injuries to his neck that would later require surgery. We were able to show that the park had inadequate evacuation procedures in place for the attraction, which had a history of breaking down mid-ride. The case was settled at mediation in excess of $400,000.
Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Can Help if You Have Been Injured in a Swimming Pool Accident
If you have been injured in a swimming pool accident that happened on someone else’s property, speak with one of our Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. We are happy to answer your legal questions. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg, from our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania.