Summer is synonymous with swimming, but swimming pool accidents account for hundreds of drownings and other serious injuries each year. Many of the victims are children. Property owners have a duty to keep their pools safe, but not everyone does. In the event you or a loved one are injured, the landowner where the accident occurred may be liable. You can rely on the experienced premise liability attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy to fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Are Common Injuries That Occur At Swimming Pools?
We all know that someone can drown in a pool if they are not properly supervised or they disregard safety rules. But parents should be aware of other types of injuries that may occur. Slippery surfaces and the inherent dangers of swimming are just part of the equation. Risks of injury increase with alcohol consumption, poor signage, and a lack of depth indicators. Insufficient rescue and first-aid equipment, or the lack thereof, make it difficult to help a victim in the event an accident occurs.
Drowning is not the only type of injury sustained at swimming pools. Others include:
- Bone fractures and cuts
- Neck and spine injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Internal organ injuries
- Wrongful death
What is an attractive nuisance?
Anyone can be injured at a swimming pool, but a large percentage of victims are children. Swimming pools are considered under Pennsylvania law to be “attractive nuisances.” This phrase refers to a dangerous condition on someone’s property that is likely to attract children and thereby cause harm. Children are naturally curious about things that they don’t understand could hurt them, and a perfect example is a swimming pool. Attractive nuisances are usually not naturally occurring characteristics of the property, such as a tall tree suitable for climbing. Rather, they are typically man-made structures or alterations to property, such as swimming pools.
What Are the Rules Concerning Attractive Nuisances?
Owners with swimming pools on their properties – including hotels, motels, private residences, and other locations – are required to take extra precautions to keep children safe. A classic example of disregard for this rule is leaving the backyard gate open so a child can wander in and drown in the pool. The landowner must take reasonable steps to keep the pool safe for children, even if that child trespasses or is not permitted to use the pool.
When a child is injured or killed because of an attractive nuisance, Pennsylvania courts must determine whether the property owner should be held liable. The owner will be held liable if the following are true:
- The owner should have known that something on his or her property presented a danger
- The owner should have known that children might visit the dangerous area
- The cost of eliminating the dangerous condition (for example, fencing in the area around the pool) is relatively minor compared to the risk posed by the dangerous condition
- The child would not have realized the danger of the condition
Premises liability rules more generally require landowners to correct dangerous conditions on their property. An owner should make an effort to eliminate safety risks for everyone, including children.
What Are Some Steps To Avoid A Swimming Pool Accident?
There are practical, common-sense enhancements that property owners can take to keep swimming pools safe. Failure to adopt these measures could be used to establish the property owner’s liability, depending on the circumstances. Those measures include:
- Keeping gates and doors leading to the pool locked: Doing this will prevent children who know how to open doors and gates from accessing the swimming pool without supervision. It also may keep out anyone else who should not be there, including adults.
- Fencing the backyard or installing fencing around the pool itself: Keeping your backyard closed off, especially with a pool, is just common sense. Pennsylvania property owners are expected to have adequate fencing that can keep a child from wandering unsupervised into a pool.
- Using a pool cover: Protective covers add an extra layer of safety. This is especially true during off-seasons when the pool is not in use, or when property owners are out of town. The best pool covers are made of sturdy material such as fiberglass. But a pool cover must be installed and used correctly in order to be effective.
- Motion sensor alarms: A sensor can be used to detect movement in the backyard or near a pool. Some are designed to detect water movement when someone enters the pool itself. Motion sensors are effective where the pool is enclosed within a house or other structure.
- Supervising swimmers: It is imperative that the property owners adequately supervise anyone who is swimming. Some pools are required to have proper signage. Public pools generally must have trained lifeguards on duty.
- Having rescue equipment nearby: Property owners should always have assistive devices, like a long pole or a lifesaver ring, and a first aid kit in proximity to their swimming pools. It is also helpful for the owner to have basic first aid training.
Not having sufficient safety enhancements may result in liability in the event of an accident. But every case is different, and the type of required modifications will vary from one to another. While fencing is a fairly basic feature that any property owner should have, a judge is unlikely to require a private homeowner to keep a lifeguard on duty.
Contact Our Philadelphia Swimming Pool Accident Attorney
Swimming pool injuries can result in extensive medical bills, hospitalization, and trauma for the parents as well as the child victims. Property owners who fail to take reasonable steps to keep children from being hurt may be held liable. Turn to the personal injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy if your child has been injured. We will investigate your case and let you know what legal options you have. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your rights as a victim of a swimming pool accident.