GET BACK IN THE WATER, BUT BEWARE SWIMMING POOL DANGERS
As the pandemic mandates are being lifted, we’re all eager to enjoy the pleasures of summertime swimming once again. Unfortunately, as we have learned at Ramey & Hailey, “pooltime” can be the most dangerous of times, particularly for our children.
Sobering poolside truths from the Centers for Disease Control include:
- More children under the age of four die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.
- For children ages 1–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes
- Every year in the United States, there are 3,960 fatal unintentional drownings, including boating-related drowning, an average of 11 drowning deaths per day.
In addition to drownings, slip and fall accidents often happen in areas around swimming pools. And, while property owners have a duty to prevent dangerous conditions in and around their premises, there is no way to prevent wet surfaces in the area surrounding a pool.
On the other hand, the owner of a property with a pool may be held liable for accidents that happen if:
- There was no emergency safety equipment available, such as life preservers.
- Diving boards and ladders were in a dangerous state of disrepair.
- Drains and drain covers were not in working order. (There was no anti-entrapment system installed).
- There was no barrier or fencing to prevent very young children from gaining unsupervised access.
- The pool’s electrical system was not functioning.
Indiana state code requires homeowners with a pool to have either:
- a 5-foot fence around the pool
- an automatic pool cover
Meanwhile, the code requires public pools to have a lifeguard.
Private pool ownership means a lot of responsibility, including monitoring alcohol consumption that happens near the pool, plus ensuring that neighborhood children cannot sneak onto the property. According to Indiana law, your pool is an “attractive nuisance” (small children will be tempted to come in). The law applies to both in-ground and above-ground pools.
Sobering words to the wise:
- A person can drown in less than 2 inches of water.
- In one minute, a person can sustain brain damage from submersion.
- For every child who drowns, another four sustain brain injuries.
What, actually, is drowning? When a person is submerged in water for a sufficient period of time water may be aspirated into an airway. Consciousness is lost, and the brain loses oxygen, posing, particularly in children, serious danger of permanent injury.
When death results from drowning, family members may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owner. But what if the drowning victim survives? More than half the survivors of a drowning will suffer significant – and lifelong – harm. Any extended loss of oxygen flow to the brain can cause long-term mental disabilities, and loss of basic cognitive function.
At Ramey & Hailey Law, we understand that, after a drowning, a child’s quality of life may never be the way it was before the accident and that in fact, his or her future will have been irreversibly altered for the worse. Our mission becomes helping recover funds to help pay for
- medical expenses
- rehabilitative costs
- loss of future earning capacity
- pain and suffering
Additionally, because many of our severely injured clients need long-term medical treatment and care, we refer them to Live Care Affiliates who are able to provide quality medical care.
To all our clients and readers, we caution: Get back in the water, and let your children enjoy the summer. Always, always, though, be alert for swimming pool dangers!