Turn to Our Fort Lauderdale Swimming Pool Accident Attorney to Recover Compensation
Warm sunny weather just invites you to hang out by the pool. Whether you are at a hotel, apartment, condominium, club, community center, or your own backyard, the lure of a swimming pool can be undeniable, especially for kids. Unfortunately, however, the danger lurking by the pools is equally undeniable. Every day, people suffer personal injuries in pool accidents in and out of the water. Knowing the risks can help you stay safe at the pool and help you keep others safe if you own a pool. Property owners, managers, and many others can be held liable if someone is hurt at their pool—even if they were trespassing at the time. If summer fun turns into bodily harm, we encourage you to schedule a free case evaluation with our Fort Lauderdale swimming pool accident attorney.
Slip and Fall Accidents—Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Get in the Water, You Don’t Quite Make it There
Most people think the primary danger of a pool is drowning. While accidents in the water are often deadly, some of the most common swimming pool accidents occur outside the pool.
- Concussions and brain contusions
- Injuries to the spine or spinal cord
- Compound fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Nerve damage
What makes the area around a pool so dangerous? Much of the danger can be attributed to slippery surfaces. People using the pool can be expected to realize that an area may be slick when they can see water on it. But they may not realize that accumulations of algae or spilled sunscreen made the surface even more slippery than usual. Sometimes pool designers plan for a decorative surface that looks beautiful but is treacherous to walk on, especially when wet or even damp.
Pool owners are required to maintain the pool area to keep the environment safe for guests—even on private property. Failing to clean up spilled food, drinks, or suntan oil could leave them liable when someone falls. Installing an inherently dangerous surface around a pool, or failing to fix a leak that leads water to accumulate unexpectedly could also provide grounds for liability. Pool decks are often overcrowded with furniture, decorative accessories, and plants. When users add their individual belongings, the pool area can become an obstacle course. Failure to maintain a safe environment could leave the pool owner or manager liable for slip and fall injuries that result.
Of course, when someone slips by the pool and then falls into the water, the dangers increase tremendously.
Drowning and Near Drowning Incidents Often Lead to Wrongful Death
The Florida Department of Health cites national statistics showing that approximately one out of five drowning deaths involve children under the age of 15. For each child who dies from drowning, there are five more who suffer submersion injuries that require emergency care, and half of those require hospitalization. This represents a much higher rate of hospitalization than other types of injuries. Drowning injuries that do not result in death often cause severe brain damage leaving victims with learning disabilities, memory problems, or loss of basic functioning which puts them in a persistent vegetative state.
The bottom line is that drowning injuries are serious, even when they are not deadly. Many of those non-deadly injuries occur in swimming pools. Victims may be rescued before they completely succumb, but suffer life-changing consequences. Often these drowning accidents could have been prevented if someone had only behaved responsibly.
If pool water is not kept clear, or a pool is overcrowded, lifeguards may not detect swimmers who are struggling or trapped under the water. If access to a pool is not secured properly, children or other vulnerable individuals can enter unsupervised and be at risk of drowning. If teens or adults who are supposed to be supervising swimmers instead have their attention absorbed by a cell phone, their inattention can lead to a deadly accident.
When someone fails to live up to a duty they owe to others and a drowning accident results, out Fort Lauderdale swimming pool injury lawyer can hold the responsible party liable for wrongful death or other injuries.
Our Fort Lauderdale Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer Outlines Lifeguard Liability
While most people would not expect to find a lifeguard on duty at their neighbor’s backyard pool, they do expect to find attentive guards on duty at big community swimming facilities where pools are often filled to capacity during opening hours. But what about hotel pools or apartment house pools that may only have one or two swimmers at a time? The requirements depend on state and local rules. In Florida, for instance, these pools are considered “public” under the definition in Fla. Stat. §514.011.
Florida Administrative Rule 64E-9.008 states that all owners and managers of public pools are “responsible for the supervision and safety of the pool.” However, although the rules impose certain requirements when owners of these pools elect to use lifeguards, courts have held that these facilities have no duty to have a lifeguard in place. Court interpretation could change, and local rules impose different requirements in various locations, so it is a good idea to check with a Fort Lauderdale swimming pool accident lawyer to determine whether a pool owner was obligated to provide a lifeguard in a particular situation.
Required Safety Equipment and Rules for Pools
Although the laws can be vague about the need for lifeguard supervision in public pools, they are generally much more specific about required safety equipment. Using Florida as an example again, even private residential pools must meet safety standards. When pool owners—public or private—violate the safety requirements, they can be held liable for drownings or other swimming pool accidents that result.
Moreover, if the pool company that installs a new pool fails to install required safety features, company representatives can be found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor under Fla. Stat. §515.27(2) and also face civil liability as well. To pass inspection, new residential pools must either be isolated by an enclosure, equipped with a safety cover, protected with an alarm that detects unauthorized entrance or restricted by latching devices or exit alarms on doors and windows leading to the pool.
Public pools naturally require more safety features. Under Fla. Stat. §514.0315, these include anti-entrapment devices or systems that meet engineering standards. The administrative rules include many additional requirements, including:
- At least one 18 inch lifesaving ring must be mounted in a conspicuous place and readily available for use
- A shepherd’s hook attached to a pole at least 16 feet long must be mounted in a conspicuous place
- Safety lines must be kept in place (for pools with a slope transition)
- Pool chemicals must be stored in a safe, inaccessible location
- Pool covers must either support the weight of an adult or not be used when the pool is accessible
- The words “No Diving” must be posted in letters 4 inches high (unless the pool has an approved diving well)
- Night swimming is only allowed if certain lighting requirements are met
- Toys or floating or climb-on devices cannot be installed without departmental approval
If the owner, manager, or other person associated with the operation of a public pool fails to follow these rules or impose the requirements, they could be held liable for injuries from swimming pool accidents that result.
Children and the Law of Attractive Nuisance
In standard premises liability rules, property owners have a legal duty to protect people that they invite onto their property from harm caused by dangerous conditions. However, they don’t owe the same protections to trespassers—unless those trespassers happen to be children attracted to something on the property.
The doctrine of “attractive nuisance” holds property owners liable when they have reason to know that children will be attracted to a feature on their property that poses a serious risk to their safety and they fail to protect a child from harm. Swimming pools are by their very nature an attractive nuisance. Pool owners—both public and private—therefore have a duty to put protective measures in place to prevent children from accessing the pool.
Many local ordinances require fencing of a specific height and type. But what if someone leaves the gate unlocked? What if someone stacks boxes against the fence, making it easy to climb? What if the fence is broken in places so a child can easily climb through? There are many scenarios where a pool owner’s negligence allows a young child to suffer injuries or death in a swimming pool accident.
A Fort Lauderdale Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Can Help with Recovery After Injuries
No amount of money can restore health or bring back a loved one lost to wrongful death. But money from a personal injury claim could provide for long-term medical needs, make up for lost support, and cover a host of other needs your family will experience in the aftermath of a swimming pool tragedy.
Unfortunately, to recover, you need to be out collecting and preserving evidence at the same time you are dealing with family needs and grief and being hounded by investigators and insurance company representatives. An experienced swimming pool accident lawyer can handle the questions and investigate to build a solid case for recovery, leaving you time to focus on your family. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or death in a swimming pool accident, talk to the dedicated pool accident lawyers at the Maus Law Firm to learn the many ways we can help.