Two Young Boys Drown in Backyard Swimming Pool

by | Jul 8, 2022 | Injuries

Authorities are calling an incident in Louisville “a heartbreaking and terrible accident.” The dual drowning was heartbreaking and terrible, but it was most likely no accident.

Officers were called to a home in Louisville after the boys, both younger than twelve years old, were found in the pool. With police cars clearing a route to downtown, first responders rushed the boys to Norton Children’s Hospital, where they were declared dead.

Investigators don’t know how long they had been under the water or how they got in the pool.

Owner Negligence

Unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death for children under four. A few simple precautions, like securing the pool and actively watching swimmers, could reduce this risk to practically nothing. Therefore, Kentucky law places the burden for preventing swimming pool drownings squarely on swimming pool owners, at least in most cases.

Legal Responsibility

Most swimming pool users are social guests or paying customers. These individuals are invitees in Kentucky. They have permission to use the pool, and their use benefits the owner, either non-economically or economically.

If the victim was an invitee, the owner has a duty of reasonable care. This legal responsibility includes a duty to initially secure the pool. Common examples include a fence with a self-latching gate that operates from the pool side and a pool cover. Additionally, the owner must frequently inspect the pool to ensure these safety measures remain in place.

In the above story, the youngsters were found dead at the bottom of the pool. So, there’s a good chance that no one saw them go into the pool, and they may have been trespassing. Usually, owners don’t have a legal duty in this area. However, some legal doctrines protect some trespassers. These doctrines include:

  • Attractive Nuisance: A swimming pool is a classic attractive nuisance. Other examples include construction dirt mounds and railroad tracks. Children often play in these areas, even though they know they aren’t supposed to be there. So, in these cases, the owner has a duty of reasonable care.
  • Frequent Trespasser: This rule often applies in remote property accidents, like swimming holes on rural tracts of land. If owners know that people often use this land without permission, the owners have a duty of care to protect them, regardless of their age.

A few premises liability victims are licensees. Apartment tenants swimming in an apartment complex pool are invitees. Guests of apartment tenants swimming in an apartment complex pool are licensees. In these situations, owners only have a duty to warn about latent (hidden) defects.

Additionally, a Lexington personal injury attorney must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the owner knew, or should have known, about the hazard that caused the fall. These same principles apply in other pool-related injury claims, like a fall on a wet deck.

Possible Defenses

The assumption of the risk defense is one of the most common defenses in swimming pool drowning claims. This defense usually hinges on a warning sign, like “No Lifeguard On Duty.” Even if the owner displayed such a sign, compensation is still available. Some common weakness in the assumption of the risk defense include the victim’s ability to:

  • See the Sign: Frequently, the NLOD or similar warning is item number five or six or a list of eight or ten pool safety rules. Everyone knows that almost no swimmers review the full list of rules, just like almost no one reads the terms of service before they click “I Agree.”
  • Read the Sign: Young children, who are the most frequent swimming pool drowning victims, have limited reading skills. The same thing is true for victims with vision problems or LEP (limited English proficiency).
  • Understand the Sign: The same things apply here. If a warning sign says “Swim at Your Own Risk,” most people understand it. But not everyone understands it, especially since the sign refers to an unstated risk.

Comparative fault is a common defense as well, especially in fall injury claims. Essentially, an insurance company lawyer argues that the victim didn’t watch where s/he was going.

Owners aren’t legally responsible for all drowning injuries. A defective product, like a bad drain, sometimes causes such injuries. Usually, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause. There’s no need to prove fault or negligence. However, fault, and specifically the intentional disregard of a known risk, is relevant in terms of damages.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. 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.