What Accidents Could Happen at the Pool?
Last year, the headlines of every major newspaper told of the tragic drowning of Olympic skier Bode Miller’s 19-month-old daughter, Emeline. The toddler fell into a pool in a neighbor’s backyard, and was unable to be resuscitated by paramedics. Emeline’s mother, former pro volleyball player Morgan Beck Miller, wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post, “Drowning is the NUMBER ONE cause of death in children ages 1-4. We talk about vaccinations, car seats, organic foods, screen time, etc at length…but not the number one risk your childrens’ lives face…a silent killer. It takes SECONDS. Please share and help us spread awareness. It’s the first step to preventing these types of tragedies.”
Emeline’s case is unfortunately all too common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 3,536 drowning deaths in the United States between 2005 and 2014. That is 10 deaths per day. And that’s not counting all the thousands that have been injured in swimming-related accidents.
Pool accidents are common and very dangerous. A slip of the foot can end in traumatic brain injury. One false move can end in drowning. It’s important for pool owners to understand the type of liability that comes with owning a pool, and what they need to do in order to ensure that their pool is as secure as possible. We can all work together to prevent injuries, accidents, and tragedies such as Emeline’s.
What Can Go Wrong at a Pool?
Pool accidents are so dangerous because they can happen in a matter of seconds. Drowning also happens underwater, quietly. There’s rarely time to scream for help. It’s mostly a quiet slipping away.
Here are some common accidents we often see at swimming pools:
- Slips and falls
- Diving board injuries, including broken bones and lacerations
- Recreational water illness
- Near-drowning or delayed drowning
Best Practices for Owning a Pool
As a pool owner, whether it’s at your house or a condo or apartment complex you own, you are responsible for making sure your guests are safe, and that uninvited guests can’t access the pool. If you fail to meet legal safety standards set by the federal government and State of Nebraska, you can be held liable for injuries that happen at your pool.
Make sure there are…
- No faulty parts in or around the pool, like a broken drain cover
- Clear markings on pool depth
- Safety equipment that is easily accessible
- Properly working pool ladders
- Good pool lighting
- The proper mix of chemicals that are required to sanitize the water
- A fence or barrier up to code to prevent people from getting in, especially children
It’s also important to know how to protect yourself and others around the pool. Here are some proactive things you can do:
- Learn CPR
- Don’t leave children unsupervised around water
- Don’t drink and swim
- Learn to spot signs of drowning, which can be very subtle
- When done using the pool, clear out all pool toys so that children are not tempted by them.
When Is Someone Liable for Pool Injuries?
Owning a pool is one of the greatest financial and legal responsibilities someone can have in the realm of property ownership. People may think pools are only dangerous if the participants are doing crazy stunts or don’t know how to swim, but that’s incorrect. A pool is an inherently dangerous place.
Pools are typically most dangerous when no one is “using” the pool. There is nobody there to supervise, and without proper gating, a young child could wander over and slip in. Young children are often attracted to the water. We’ve been misled by TV and movies to believe a drowning person will thrash and yell for help, but drowning is very quiet, as the person struggles to stay above water without having the time or strength to yell for help. It’s important to have a fence or gate that locks. Another good idea is having a pool cover, and an alarm system to let you know that someone is in or by the pool. (There may even be apps for that.)
Pool accidents typically fall under premises liability. A sign such as “Swim At Your Own Risk” will not protect a pool owner from a lawsuit. If anyone is injured in a pool due to a dangerous condition, there’s a real possibility that they can file a claim against the pool’s owner for their injuries and other losses.
Have Questions? Talk to Bottlinger Law L.L.C.
Many pool accidents could have been prevented if adequate measures were taken by the pool’s owner or the facility’s landlord. If you or someone you know have been injured in a pool-related accident in Omaha, please contact Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234. In your free consultation, we’ll discuss your options for filing a claim and recovering.
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