Know your rights when it comes to swimming pool accidents

by Michael Heygood

Swimming pools can provide hours of enjoyment for your family, but pools can also be extremely dangerous.  Unfortunately, many people, especially young children, are injured or killed in pool-related accidents every year. When they do not result in death, pool accidents can result in serious injury from long-term asphyxiation, resulting in brain damage that can drastically alter a person’s life. Spinal injuries can also occur from improper diving or insufficient pool depth.

While pool accidents occur for a wide variety of reasons, they frequently result from improper pool maintenance or a lack of proper safety devices or equipment around the pool.  In an apartment complex, pool gates and fences must be erected so that wandering children are prevented from entering a dangerous area. Further, drain covers must comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act to prevent the tragic and hidden hazards of drain entrapments in pools and spas.  This serves to prevent children and others from being caught in a potential vacuum created by the pool pumps.  Furthermore, warning signs around pools must be prominently displayed, alerting apartment pool swimmers of the absence of a lifeguard or the dangers inherent in using a swimming pool or jacuzzi.

Drowning can occur in an instant to people of all ages and swimming ability.  In fact, a small child can drown in merely two inches of water.  If a child is not properly supervised when using an apartment pool, the parent, guardian, or other entity responsible for that child’s care could be held liable for a drowning or other injury.  If the child was able to wander into a restricted pool area due to a broken fence or other improperly maintained preventative safety device, the apartment manager or owner, the pool maintenance company, or the manufacturer or installer of the device may be responsible.

Many of the legal issues that are associated with apartment pool accidents also apply to hotel pool accidents.  Like an apartment complex, a hotel must maintain their pools in proper working condition so as to not cause injury or harm to a hotel resident or visitor. Restricted areas must not be accessible to children without an adult.  Signs should be prominently displayed to warn of the absence of lifeguards.  Pool gates or fences must be maintained.  Anti-entrapment drain covers must be used as required by the P&SS Act.

Hotel pool accidents or drownings may also occur as a result of the actions of intoxicated persons who cause injury or death to themselves or others. If a pool accident occurs at a hotel, the hotel may be held liable if it failed to properly maintain the pool and its surrounding area or provided alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated.Top of FormBottom of For or failed rtpo

Simply stated, pool accidents and drownings can happen in a number of ways and often involve more than one responsible party.  Whether the injury or death resulted from a lack of safety equipment, failure to properly supervise swimmers, failure to warn of known dangers, lack of fencing around the pool, or a failure to maintain pool equipment, identifying all responsible parties is crucial to the case.  If all liable parties are not properly identified, the aggrieved party may lose their chance to receive full compensation for the injury or loss.  This is one of many reasons that it is important to contact an attorney quickly in the aftermath of a drowning or other pool accident.  The sooner an investigation can begin, the less likely that a liable party will be able to cover up the problem and, by extension, their responsibility for the accident.

If you have been seriously injured, or if a family members has been injured or killed, as a result of a swimming pool accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  To find out if you may have a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our online case evaluation form.