Statistically, unintentional drowning is the fourth leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. A few moments under the water is sufficient to cause a permanent brain or fatal brain injury, especially among child victims.
Drowning is not the only issue that Brandon drowning attorneys deal with in this area. As outlined below, there are a number of other hazards as well. Some of them are potentially more deadly than drowning.
All these victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. That includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
To obtain this compensation, victim/plaintiffs must normally establish duty, knowledge, and causation.
Florida law divides premises liability victims into three different categories, depending on the relationship between the victim and owner. The duty varies by category, as follows:
- Invitee: Most swimming pool injury victims are invitees. These individuals have general or specific permission to be in the water and they benefit the owner in some way. That benefit could be economic or noneconomic. Because of the close relationship, owners have a very high duty of care in these situations.
- Licensee: Some swimming pool injury victims have permission to be in the water, but their presence does not benefit the owner. An apartment tenant’s guest is probably a licensee. In these situations, owners must warn about any latent (hidden) defects in and around the water which may cause injury.
- Trespasser: These individuals have no permission to be in the water and do not benefit the owner. Adults who sneak into backyard pools and go swimming are usually trespassers. However, children who sneak into backyards and swim are usually not trespassers, because of the attractive nuisance doctrine.
Premises liability is an umbrella term which covers incidents like swimming pool drowning, dog bites, and slip-and-fall injuries.
Furthermore, victim/plaintiffs must prove that the owner knew about the hazardous condition which caused injury. That knowledge can be actual or constructive (should have known).
To evaluate circumstantial evidence, courts typically use the time/notice rule. For example, if a victim slips on a yellow banana peel, the owner is probably not liable for damages, since the peel is fresh. But if a victim slips on a black banana peel, liability probably attaches, since the peel has been on the floor for some time.
As for the third element (causation), the most common causes of swimming pool injuries are examined below.
Owners use chlorine and other toxic chemicals to clean pool water. The wrong amount of chemicals can cause serious injuries, especially among children.
An excessive amount of chlorine may cause chemical burns to ears, noses, and throats. These burns are extremely difficult to treat.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, too few chemicals may allow dangerous bacteria to take root and spread. These bacterial infections are especially problematic beginning in midsummer, when pool water warms.
In most years, more children drown in Florida swimming pools than in any other state. Even a few moments of inattention can cause a tragedy.
If the pool had a “No Lifeguard on Duty” or other such warning sign, insurance companies often raise the assumption of the risk defense. This defense excuses liability if the victim:
- Voluntarily Assumes: Pretty much everyone voluntarily goes swimming. If someone throws them in the pool, they were nearly always near the water. However, a voluntary assumption may be an issue if a child ventures out to the deep end.
- A Known Risk: Warning signs do not automatically protect owners. The warning must be in an obvious place, and not buried on a list of pool rules. Furthermore, the insurance company must prove the victim could read and understand the sign. That’s difficult to do if the victim was very young or had limited English proficiency.
Alternatively, victim/plaintiffs may be able to use the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Act and establish liability as a matter of law. If owners violate these legal requirements, which include things like pool fences and tamper-resistant gates, owners may be responsible for damages whether they knew about the harm or not.
Most people do not equate “swimming pools” with “poison gas.” But such injuries can and do occur.
Chlorine gas clouds form when chlorine gets wet. If the swimming pool pump is functioning properly, the poison gas is not an issue. But if the pump malfunctions, a poison gas cloud could develop. This cloud could cause a serious injury, especially if the victim is very young or has a pre-existing breathing or other medical condition.
Contact Dedicated Attorneys
Swimming pool negligence often leads to serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).