Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming Pool Injury, Liability, Accidental Drowning, Slip & Fall
In Arizona, accidental drowning is one of the most devastating types of accidents a family can experience. It only takes a few moments for a family’s future to be permanently changed because of a swimming pool accident.
Whether an accident results in a swimming pool injury or fatality, the experienced injury law attorneys at Hutzler Law are prepared to help. We have an established track record of helping our clients to recover maximum compensation for their losses following accidents in private or public pools caused by the negligence of the homeowner, business, or municipality.
Common Causes of a Swimming Pool Injury or Drowning
Many factors can contribute to swimming pool accidents. Some of the most common causes of swimming pool accidents include the following:
- Inadequate supervision
- Improper security
- Defective pool equipment
- Running on pool decks
- Poorly trained staff
- Poor maintenance
- Inexperienced swimmers
- Failure to wear life jackets
When people invite others to spend time in their pools, they must supervise children at all times. Even taking a minute to walk inside to use the bathroom, get a drink, or answer the phone can result in devastating consequences. People that are watching over those in the pool should never drink around pools or engage in horseplay.
Private and public pools should be surrounded by fencing that meets the state and local requirements and locked gates to prevent children from wandering in.
Private and public pools should be surrounded by fencing that meets the state and local requirements and locked gates to prevent children from wandering in. Homeowners, hotels, motels, and cities should also ensure that their pools and equipment are kept in good working order and should make sure that children wear life jackets at all times. Running should be forbidden on pool decks to prevent a slip and fall at a pool.
People Who Are at Greatest Risk of a Swimming Pool Injury
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified several groups of people as having a much higher risk of suffering a swimming pool injury or accidental drowning, including the following:
- Males – Eighty percent of drowning victims are male.
- Children – Children ages one to four have the greatest drowning rates.
- Minorities – Black people had the highest accidental drowning rate as compared to others.
Males are likelier to suffer injuries in swimming pool accidents because they tend to engage in horseplay and other risky behavior more frequently than females. Men are also likelier to drink alcohol while on or near the water, which contributes to their higher fatality rates.
Children must be supervised at all times when they are in or near swimming pools.
Children must be supervised at all times when they are in or near swimming pools. They can drown very quickly, and many may not know how to swim. When children are at public pools, overcrowding can be an issue.
Children may suffer a public pool injury when others jump in on top of them or when lifeguards are improperly trained or not present. Children might also suffer a slip and fall at a pool if they are allowed to run on the wet pool deck.
Common Types of Pool Injuries
Swimming pool accidents may result in many different injuries. Some of the most common types of injuries that can happen in pool accidents include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries caused by falls and blows to the head
- Brain damage from lack of oxygen
- Skull fractures from diving into too-shallow water, falling, or defective pool equipment
- Severe lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries from diving into shallow water
- Broken bones and soft tissue injuries caused by falls
Negligence and Swimming Pool Accidents
Most swimming pool accident claims are based on theories of negligence. For homeowner liability or business liability to apply, the victim or the family of someone who drowns must be able to prove all of the elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence.
Negligence involves the following four legal elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach caused the victim’s injury.
- The victim suffered actual damages.
If the property owner violated a statute or ordinance, the owner might be liable under a theory of negligence per se.
When a defendant’s actions leading to a swimming pool injury violated a statute or local law, his or her actions will be considered negligent ..
When a defendant’s actions leading to a swimming pool injury violated a statute or local law, his or her actions will be considered negligent without the plaintiff having to prove that a reasonable person would not have engaged in the same type of conduct.
Arizona Pool Safety Laws
Several laws in Arizona apply to swimming pools. Under ARS 36-1681(B), homeowners with private pools must enclose them with fences or walls that are at least five feet tall. Any openings in the fence cannot be great enough to allow a round object of four inches to pass through. This law covers any home with residents younger than age six and any home with a pool built after June 2, 1991.
Phoenix has expressly adopted the International Building Code. Under this code, public and private swimming pools are required to be enclosed by a barrier of at least 48 inches. This rule applies to all semi-public, public, and private swimming pools that are accessible to any child younger than age six.
This law applies retroactively to homes with pools built before 1991, requiring homeowners and businesses to enclose them with fences or other barriers.
Comparative Negligence and Swimming Pool Accidents
Arizona follows the principle of comparative negligence under ARS 12-2505. Under this law, an injured victim can recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit even when they are partially to blame for their injuries.
The victim’s damages award will be reduced by the percentage of fault that the jury allocates to him or her. However, a plaintiff will not be able to recover damages if he or she intentionally caused his or her injuries.
Homeowner Liability and the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Homeowners in Arizona may be liable to pay damages for children’s swimming pool injuries or drowning deaths even if the children simply wandered onto their property. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, homeowners have a duty to prevent children from coming onto their property when they are attracted by things like swimming pools.
Homeowners in Arizona may be liable to pay damages for children’s swimming pool injuries or drowning deaths even if the children simply wandered onto their property
A property owner must take steps to prevent children from accessing a pool by erecting proper enclosures and ensuring that the gate is kept locked. If a homeowner fails to secure a pool, he or she may be liable when a child trespasses into the pool and is injured or drowns.
While property owners generally do not owe a duty of care to trespassers to protect them from injuries caused by hazards located on their property, the attractive nuisance doctrine makes an exception for trespassing children.
Damages in a Swimming Pool Accident Claim
People who suffer a private or public pool injury may be entitled to receive compensation for their losses. Two types of compensatory damages might be recoverable, including special damages and general damages.
Special damages are monetary amounts to compensate victims for their economic losses.
General damages are monetary amounts to compensate negligence victims for their non-economic losses.
Some of the types of damages that might be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit after a swimming pool accident include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses to treat the accident-related injuries
- Past and future income losses
- Property losses, if any
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced ability to enjoy life
- Other damages
If a victim dies in a swimming pool accident, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim under ARS 12-612. The parties that can file wrongful death claims in Arizona drowning accidents include the following:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving child
- Personal representative of the estate
The following damages might be available in a wrongful death claim:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical expenses incurred to treat the victim before he or she died
- The value of the income the victim would have earned if he or she had lived
- Property losses, if any
- Loss of consortium or guidance
- Loss of the value of any household services provided by the victim
- Emotional pain and suffering of the survivors
Arizona does not place a cap on non-economic damages in personal injury or wrongful death claims.
In some cases, punitive damages might be available. These are damages that are meant to punish the defendant instead of to compensate the plaintiff and are ordered in cases in which the defendant’s behavior was willful or wanton. Your attorney can talk to you about the types of damages that might be available and explain the estimated value of your claim.
Talk to the Experienced Swimming Pool Accident Attorneys at Hutzler Law
A swimming pool accident can be devastating for victims and their families. When a homeowner or other property owner negligently contributed to the cause of an accident, they might be found liable to pay damages.
If you have suffered serious injuries or have lost your loved one in a pool accident, you should schedule a consultation with the experienced injury attorneys at Hutzler Law. Call us today to request a free appointment at (602) 345-1981.