July is here, and with it comes record temperatures in many parts of the country; in parts of New Jersey, temperatures this year have already reached 100 degrees in some parts of the state. One of summer’s greatest pleasures is of course visiting a swimming pool to cool off, but this activity also carries certain risks, especially for children.
According to a 2020 Report on pool and spa submersion by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency departments treat roughly 6,700 patients younger than 15 for drowning-related injuries each year. Of those, the vast majority—5,100—are 4 years old or younger. In fact, children under 15 accounted for 75% non-fatal drowning injuries and 76% of fatal drownings.
In this article, I’ll cover who might be liable if you or a loved one is injured at a public pool or at a pool at a private residence. In case you are a pool owner, I’ll also cover some safety measures to make sure your friends and family can enjoy your pool. If you suffer an accident at the pool this summer and are unsure whether or not you have a case, a Northern New Jersey swimming pool accident lawyer with Buttafuoco & Associates may be able to help, so feel free to get in touch with your questions.
Accidents at Public Pools
At a recreational facility like a public pool or a water park, it’s reasonable to expect the operators of the facility to maintain a safe environment. There are usually, for example, lifeguards, non-slip material on pathways, and clear signage of the shallow end of the pool.
However, who exactly might be responsible if you slip or fall and suffer an injury is sometimes murky. The owners, the lifeguard on duty, or any other employee could be liable for what happened if they acted negligently. If a child drowns because a lifeguard on duty was not paying proper attention, this is a clear example of negligence, especially if another person with the same training would have acted differently in the situation.
In other cases, however, you or your child may be liable: pool decks are by their very nature wet, and if you or your child runs or acts unsafely and suffers a fall, there may have been nothing the employee could do. Likewise, if “no diving” signs are posted and you dive anyway, you may be the only one responsible for your injuries. However, this becomes more complicated if the lifeguard on duty did not properly handle a serious spinal injury, even if you did not adhere to the sign’s warning.
As you can see, it is not always clear who was at fault for a swimming pool accident. If you are uncertain who is responsible, it is certainly worth consulting with a swimming pool accident attorney serving Northern New Jersey at Buttafuoco & Associates to better understand your legal situation.
Accidents at Private Pools
If a serious injury happens in somebody’s backyard pool or spa, the rules in some ways are clearer cut. A slip and fall lawyer may cite similar laws and statutes applied in other slip and fall cases to make the case that the property owner was liable. In order to ensure the safety of their guests, pool owners should:
- Mark the Shallow End of the Pool: This will ensure that no one dives in headfirst, causing a concussion or other injury.
- Install Fencing Around Your Pool: Children can drown even in a shallow pool, and this will ensure that no accidents happen due to lack of supervision.
- Designate a Lifeguard: On-duty lifeguards are among the best safety measures in public and recreational facilities. Designate someone with strong swimming skills and first-aid experience to take on this leadership role, especially when hosting groups at your home pool.
- Enforce a Maximum Capacity: Pools can be dangerous when there are too many people in them. Enforce a rule for the maximum number of people allowed in the pool at one time.
- Install non-slip or textured material: On ladders, diving boards, and walkways around the pool, it’s smart to install non-slip material to prevent slip and falls.
If a private pool owner fails to observe any of the items on the list above and an accident happens because of it, they may be found liable for the victim’s injuries. One common exception to this happens if an uninvited guest becomes injured in or around someone’s private pool or spa. Typically, a property owner is not liable for the safety of trespassers on their property; if a burglar slips and falls in your pool or spa, that’s not your responsibility.
However, things like pools that attract benign, recreational intruders—like children—do require proper fencing around the area of the pool. A swimming pool accident lawyer in Northern New Jersey can further clarify your legal rights in these situations.
When to Consult an Attorney
I certainly haven’t covered all of the possibilities for swimming pool injuries, and each swimming pool accident is unique. If you have questions about an accident, reach out for a consultation with Buttafuoco & Associates to understand the liability and options in your case.
Get in touch today at 1-800-NOW-HURT for a free case review.