Swimming pools are ubiquitous in Florida. They help us through the long, hot summers, and our year-round warm climate allows us to enjoy a dip nearly any month of the year. But swimming pools do come with dangers.
Drownings and Near-Drownings
Between 2005 and 2014, there were an average of 3,536 drowning deaths (not including drownings related to boating accidents) in the United States each year, according to data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of these were in swimming pools and many of them were young children.
Florida has the highest drowning rate in the U.S. among children between the ages of one and four, and drowning is the leading cause of death in Florida for that age group. Eighty-four Florida children lost their lives due to drowning in 2015, as did several hundred adults.
In addition, nonfatal drowning injuries can cause catastrophic and life-changing injuries, including serious brain damage that may leave the victim with a lifetime of neurological or pulmonary damage, cognitive disabilities like memory problems and learning disabilities, or even near total loss of brain function, leaving the victim in a persistent vegetative state.
Other Types of Pool Accidents
Unfortunately, drownings and near drownings are far from the only swimming pool-related accidents that cause injuries and death. Others include:
- Slipping and falling onto a hard pool deck, resulting in lacerations, bruises, fractures, or head injuries.
- Diving accidents, which often result in serious head, neck and back injuries, spinal cord damage, paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or death;
- Infections from contaminated water;
- Circulation entrapment injuries caused by suction where water rushes out of the pool through a drain, sucking in hair, limbs, and other parts of the body which can be devastating, including amputation and evisceration as well as drowning.
The Pool Owner’s Responsibility
Whether a family pool at a private home, a public pool in a county, state, or municipal park, a hotel pool, a school pool, a pool at a health club, or an attraction at a one of Florida’s popular waterparks, the owner or manager of the property where the pool is located is responsible for the pool’s safety and owes a “duty of care” toward others who are allowed in the pool and the surrounding area. This means:
- Inspecting and maintaining the pool
- Ensuring that drains are covered to prevent entrapment
- Ensuring that electrical systems are properly installed and maintained in a safe condition
- Marking shallow areas to prevent anyone from diving into them
- Having a minimum of a nine foot water depth under any diving board
- Keeping decks in good repair and coated with non-slip surfacing material
- Regular monitoring of water quality to prevent excessive bacteria from flourishing.
- Supervising children and adolescents around the pool
- Providing secure fencing at least four feet high with lockable gates as barriers around the pool so that the “attractive nuisance” is not accessible to small children, unless they are supervised
Liability for Injuries or Fatalities Caused by a Swimming Pool on the Premises
When a swimming pool’s owner fails in their duty of care to take every reasonable precaution to protect people from injury or death in and around the pool, and an accident occurs that results in a serious injury or death, the owner or manager of the pool may be held legally liable for the damages that the victim and/or the victim’s family suffered. Pool accidents are a type of “premises liability” case. Premises liability is the legal theory that holds property owners and operators/managers liable for accidents and injuries that occur on their premises.
Damages You May Be Able to Recover
If you or a member of your family suffered a serious injury or died in a Florida swimming pool accident, you may be able to recover money in compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include medical expenses; lost earnings, benefits, and future earning potential; other incidental out of pocket costs necessitated by the injury; funeral expenses in a wrongful death case; and other expenses that can be documented with bills, receipts, cancelled checks, or employment records.
Non-economic damages are things that don’t come with a specific price tag. These are mainly things that affect your quality of life, such as pain, suffering, disfigurement, disability, loss of consortium, loss of love and guidance, mental anguish, and loss of the ability to enjoy your life.
Getting the Quality Legal Help You Need
When you need effective, top quality legal representation for a swimming pool accident that was caused by the owner’s negligence, or any other personal injury or wrongful death for which someone else was at fault, contact Central Florida’s Fiol & Morros Law Group. We have offices located in Tampa and Orlando for your convenience, and offer a free case consultation. Bring us your story and we’ll answer your questions, discuss your legal options with you, and if you choose to hire us, begin the process of making a claim for damages.
We understand how devastating a serious injury or the death of a loved one can be, and we are here to help. We will work on your case on a contingency basis, so it will cost you nothing to get the powerful, experienced legal representation you need, and you will only pay legal fees and expenses after we win money for you. Florida law limits the amount of time you have to file a law suit. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to hold the wrongdoer accountable for the harm done. Justice matters, so call the Fiol & Morros Law Group today.