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Southern California plays host to sunny and warm weather during all 12 months of the year, meaning that outdoor activities are in season year round. Because of that, it’s no surprise that swimming pools are common in backyards across the region. While swimming pools undoubtedly provide relaxation, comfort, and fun for individuals and families, they also represent a significant safety risk.
According to the CDC, there are more than 12,000 fatal and nonfatal drowning incidents every year in the United States, with 11 fatal drownings occurring every day. These drowning incidents affect children more frequently than adults, but adults are nonetheless susceptible to drowning. The CDC also states that the victims of 1 out of every 5 drownings is from children aged 14 or younger. While young children are vulnerable to swimming pool injuries, thousands of adults sustain serious injuries around swimming pools annually.
Drowning is usually associated with death, but nonfatal drowning can result in serious and impactful lifelong injuries. Sometimes referred to as near-drowning, a nonfatal drowning incident can cause pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, brain damage, cognitive and motor skills deficiencies, paralysis, chemical imbalances in the body, and in the worst cases, a permanent vegetative state. These injuries are caused by the body being deprived of oxygen in a nonfatal drowning incident.
Otherwise, swimming pool accidents can also encompass non-drowning injuries, such as diving board accidents, slide and toy accidents, and slip and fall incidents.
Regardless of the specific source of a person’s injuries, when harm occurs in and around swimming pools, the law may provide an avenue of recourse for victims to receive compensation for their injuries.
If you or a loved one recently suffered harm in or around a swimming pool, you may have legal options. The law offices of Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP are committed to helping victims of negligence and/or premises liability gain compensation for their injuries while holding guilty parties responsible for their actions. Falling into a swimming pool or near-drowning can cause brain injury, motor skill and cognitive dysfunction, paralysis, life-long disability, or even death.
What are the Different Types of Swimming Pool Accidents?
There are several types of scenarios that might cause an LA swimming pool accident. Some of the most common include:
#1. Incidents Involving Inadequate Fencing
Anyone who owns a pool, whether private or public, must follow local LA laws regarding fencing. Often, pool owners must have a privacy fence that is a certain height with a locking gate. For example, according to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, private pools are required to be self-closing and no less than 60 inches from the ground. This gate must remain closed for the safety of the public.
The law refers to pools as “an attractive nuisance,” suggesting that children are intrinsically attracted to swimming pools. Young children don’t think of the danger associated with swimming unsupervised; they only see it as a way to have fun. Failing to lock a gate or install adequate fencing could be grounds for a premises liability claim under California law. Slip and fall accidents are common on the pool deck, which is usually wet from splashing in the pool.
#2. Chemical Burns
In another scenario, children or adults may sustain serious injuries from chemical burns. To keep them sanitary, pool owners and operators must use the right combination of chemicals while maintaining a safe pH for patrons. These chemicals must be stored safely between uses.
Carelessness in a pool’s operation can lead to chemical burns. Liability in these incidents may lie with the owners of the property, a maintenance company, or even the government (if the injury occurs in a public pool).
#3. Negligent Supervision
Public, and some private swimming pools, must have a lifeguard on duty. These individuals are there to enforce a pool’s rules. If they fail to notice a hazard or a patron in distress, this could lead to a claim on the grounds of negligent supervision.
Who is responsible for a swimming pool drowning?
Legally, the responsibility for a swimming pool drowning depends on the facts of each individual case. In some cases, drowning can be caused by defects in a pool, pool toy, or another product. In other cases, drowning can be caused by a property owner’s failure to protect a child from a pool or failure to supervise children using a pool on their property. Among the types of parties that can be held responsible for a swimming pool drowning include the following:
The most common type of party held responsible for swimming pool drownings is the owner of the property on which the drowning occurred. Swimming pools are unique in that the law labels them as “attractive nuisances,” meaning that they present a type of risk that specifically affects children, who may be attracted to the pool. Because of that label, the law requires that property owners take reasonable steps to protect children from pools, whether the property owner has children or not.
Specifically, in Los Angeles, city law requires that every swimming pool containing 1.5 feet of water or more is enclosed by a fence that cannot be breached by children and that is equipped with a self-closing and self-latching gate device. When a property owner fails to follow city law, they could be guilty of negligence per se, which is easier to prove than ordinary negligence.
Otherwise, property owners can be responsible for swimming pool injuries based on negligent supervision. Especially when hosting children or other adults at their home, a homeowner has a legal duty to ensure that conditions are safe for their guests. If a child falls into a pool or otherwise becomes injured in a pool because an adult was failing to supervise them, that adult property owner could be responsible for the child’s injuries.
Slip and fall accidents or other accidents occurring near a pool can also be attributed to property owners in the same way that a non-swimming pool injury could be. The laws underlying these types of claims depend on the type of property owner, and whether the swimming pool is public or private, but property owners can nonetheless be held responsible for injuries sustained on their property.
Manufacturers and Retailers of Swimming Pools and Related Products
Sometimes, a drowning can tragically be caused by defects in pool equipment, pool toys, or in the pool itself. When these types of injuries occur, legal compensation can be sought from the manufacturer of the defective product, and sometimes, from the retailer who sold the defective product.
Examples of this type of liability would include a pool toy that causes a child to become entrapped underwater, a pool ladder that breaks or otherwise fails to work, a lifejacket or flotation device that fails to function, and pool pumps or filters that cause drowning by attachment or suction.
What compensation can I recover after a swimming pool accident?
After a swimming pool accident, California law allows plaintiffs to recover 100 percent of their economic damages, which encompasses medical bills, lost wages, associated medical expenses, and any damage to property.
Otherwise, swimming pool accident victims may be able to recover additional damages for emotional damages, pain and suffering, and in the worst cases, compensation for the loss of life of a family member. In the most severe cases, victims can seek punitive damages against a defendant’s reckless or intentional conduct, in order to deter and prevent others from acting in the same way in the future.
California law caps or limits damages in some types of lawsuits, including malpractice claims and car accident claims, but importantly, there is no damage cap on swimming pool accident cases. Whether a swimming pool lawsuit stems from products liability, premises liability, or wrongful death, damages are not capped in any way, shape, or form in California. Thus, families and victims are free to seek compensation in an amount that fully and fairly compensates them for their injuries.
What are the typical accident risks of swimming pools to children?
Swimming pools are uniquely dangerous to children due to their attractive nature. Children see pools as fun, as they are, but children are at a significantly higher risk for swimming pool related injuries than adults. Among the most common accident risks associated with swimming pools to children include the following:
- Fatal drowning
- Nonfatal drowning, resulting in permanent serious injuries
- Head injuries from diving board or water slide accidents
- Slip and fall accidents on pool decks
- Chemical burns from pool chemicals applied improperly
Our Los Angeles Drowning Attorneys offer Free Consultations!
At Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP, our Los Angeles swimming pool injury attorneys take the rights of our clients very seriously. We specialize in personal injury lawsuits and are known for our aggressive and effective representation. In fact, many of our verdicts and settlements are the largest of their kind. We know the devastation and fear that can accompany a swimming pool or drowning accident. An accident that should have been prevented by the negligent party. Don’t settle for a token settlement or no action at all. Call us today for more information and a free case consultation. (310) 477-1700
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California Accidental Drowning Lawyers Disclaimer: The swimming pool injury or other legal information presented at this site should not be considered formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter. Please note that you are not considered a client until you have signed a retainer agreement and your case has been accepted by us.