Drownings are the most talked-about swimming pool injuries, especially among children. In fact, among children between 1 and 4, unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death. If left unattended for more than a few moments, these children could easily drown in a public pool, even a kiddie wading pool. Ironically, many such injuries happen when pools are crowded. Every adult assumes another adult is watching the child.
As outlined below, there are other kinds of swimming pool injuries as well. As the weather warms and families are anxious to get out of quarantine, these injuries will become increasingly common.
Generally, swimming pool owners are legally responsible for all injuries. A Lexington personal injury attorney must establish that the owner had a legal duty and the owner knew about the hazard which caused the injury. Defective product claims work a bit differently. They usually involve the strict liability rule.
Basic Elements of Swimming Pool Injury Claims
Legal duty is usually the first element in a negligence claim. Most swimmers are invitees. They have permission to be at the pool and their mere presence benefits the owner. That benefit could be economic, like an entrance fee, or noneconomic, like the social interaction a party guest provides. In these situations, owners have a duty of reasonable care. They must take affirmative steps to ensure that invitees are safe.
In a few cases, swimmers are licensees (permission but no benefit) or trespassers (no permission and no benefit). Generally, property owners have lesser legal responsibilities in these cases.
Evidence of knowledge could be direct or circumstantial. Victim/plaintiffs must prove actual knowledge or constructive knowledge (should have known) by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Frequently, a defective product, like a defective pool drain or pump, causes a swimming pool injury. Generally, manufacturers are strictly liable for such injuries. There’s no need to prove duty or knowledge. These items might be relevant to the amount of damages, but not to responsibility itself.
Types of Injuries
These different types of claims are evident in the different types of swimming pool injuries which happen in Kentucky.
As mentioned, lack of supervision causes most swimming pool drownings. Morally, caregivers are responsible for watching children in swimming pools. Legally, owners are responsible, because of the aforementioned duty of care.
Even if a child sneaks into a swimming pool, the owner is usually responsible for injuries, because of the attractive nuisance doctrine.
Sometimes, defective drains cause swimming pool drownings. If the drain is too strong, it could create a dangerous riptide. These invisible riptides literally suck swimmers under the water.
Medically, most children suffer permanent brain injuries if they are below the water for five minutes. At this point, the oxygen-starved brain starts shutting down parts of the body. The shutdown process usually starts with the extremities, like the arms and legs, and then quickly moves to more vital internal organs.
Chlorine and other pool cleaning chemicals are incredibly toxic. If the chlorine level is too high, swimmers could sustain chemical burns, especially in their ears, noses, mouths, and throats. These burns normally require complex and expensive treatment at specialty burn centers. Swimming pool owners are clearly responsible for such burns, even if the victim’s pre-existing condition contributed to the injury’s severity.
Mechanical issues could cause similar injuries. When chlorine mixes with water, it forms poison gas. The swimming pool pump and pipe system flushes water out of the pool to keep it from mixing with the chlorine. If this system breaks down, poison gas clouds could develop. These gas clouds normally aren’t fatal, but they could cause serious injuries in many cases.
Some pools are too clean, and others are too dirty. If the chlorine level is too low, dangerous bacteria could grow and multiply in the water. That’s especially true late in the summer, when the water in outdoor pools is well above room temperature.
Once again, either owner inattention or a defective pump/pipe system could cause such injuries. These incidents are especially hard on children with vulnerable immune systems.
Damages in all these injury claims usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, especially in defective product claims.
Swimming pools are fun, but alas, they are also dangerous. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers