According to Stanford Children’s Health, approximately 830 children ages 14 and under drown each year. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 and 10 and 14. About 3,600 injuries occur each year because of a near-drowning incident.
While swimming can be a fun activity and a great form of exercise, it can also lead to tragedy when people aren’t careful.
Common Swimming Pool Injuries and Deaths
Some of the most common causes of swimming pool deaths and swim injuries include:
- Drowning – If a person is submerged under water and suffocates, it is considered a drowning if a death occurs within the first 24 hours after submersion.
- Near drowning – In a near-drowning accident, the victim survives after the 24-hour window of submersion.
- Entrapment – Entrapment occurs when a suction force causes a person’s body, hair, or clothing to get entangled in the pool. Pool drain deaths are tragically far too common. Entrapment can also occur because of pool toys.
- Diving injuries – A common cause of swimming injuries is diving into shallow water or diving injuries caused by malfunctioning diving boards. These accidents can cause serious head injuries or paralysis.
- Pool slide injuries – Injuries can occur on pool slides when people fall off of them, go down headfirst, or are dropped into shallow water.
- Slips and falls – Some poolside accidents occur when people slip and fall on the ground surrounding the pool.
- Electrical burns and injuries – Electrical defects and malfunctioning electrical systems can have dangerous consequences when combined with a water supply.
Swimming Pool Owner Law
Property owners, whether public or private, are responsible for keeping their pool in a safe condition. Pool owners know that children may be tempted to swim in their pool, so they are responsible for taking proactive measures to prevent children from coming uninvited onto their property and using the pool without their permission. North Carolina pool owners are required to have fencing around their pools that is at least four feet tall.
Property owners who fail to uphold these responsibilities may be financially responsible for injuries that occurred, including if a child drowned on their property. Under basic principles of premises liability, property owners may be responsible for compensating victims for damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Physical disability
- Pain and suffering
Public Pool vs. Private Pool Liability
Swimming pools are a prime location for water accidents. Public pools and private pools are often regulated by state rules, such as North Carolina’s Public Swimming Pool Rules and South Carolina’s Public Swimming Pools Regulations. Additionally, local governments and municipalities can pass additional ordinances to regulate swimming pools, such as the City of Raleigh’s rules, Mecklenburg County’s ordinance, or the City of Aiken’s permit requirements.
These rules regulate such aspects of swimming pools like:
- Barriers, such as requiring fencing that is at least four feet tall around any below or above-ground pools that does not contain any gap that is 4 or more inches wide
- Gates, such as requiring that gates be installed near pools to limit access to them and that they be self-latching
- Pool covers, such as requiring them if any part of a barrier is a wall of a house or building
- Warning signs, such as requiring a warning that there is no lifeguard on duty
- Emergency equipment, such as requiring a pole and flotation device to help prevent accidental drownings
- Water play zones, such as regulating how much turnover time is necessary at kids swimming pools, wading pools, or water play zones
- Water source, such as requiring that water in a pool be acceptable for use as potable water
How to Prevent Injuries
Many swimming accidents can be prevented with careful planning and maintenance, such as:
- Teaching children how to swim
- Avoiding drinking or using drugs when swimming
- Always supervising children in a pool
- Not allowing roughhousing in or near the pool
- Properly securing the pool
How Stewart Law Offices Can Help
If you or a loved one was hurt in a swimming pool accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Stewart Law Offices can help. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.