Pool Gate Latch Failures Resulting in Drownings
Pool gates and fences are meant to keep children safe, but these barriers fail more often than we think. Pool gate failures result in hundreds of serious injuries and deaths each year.
Children attempting to climb over or squeeze through the gate can be seriously injured or killed.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys offer legal assistance for innocent victims harmed by a defective pool gate and fence. Our law firm ensures that our clients receive maximum compensation for their damages while seeking justice against those who caused them harm.
Contact a Chicago drowning accident attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
Defective Pool Gates and Malfunctioning Fences
Pool safety isn't just about the measures taken during swimming pool hours but also about preventing accidents in the off hours when staff members are not around to rescue an injured child.
Many children and adults fall victim to faulty gates and fencing when attempting to enter a pool area that is not properly secured with an operational gate system. Illinois swimming pool law requires that every public pool is surrounded by a gate that meets the specifications laid out in the Illinois administrative code.
Pool gates and fences are safety measures and must be constructed to the highest possible standards. Any flaw in a pool fence or gate might result in a tragedy.
Defective pool gates that do not adhere to these requirements could result in a drowning child or an accident where a young victim was harmed while trying to climb the gate to gain entry to the swimming area while unattended.
Common features that should be manufactured into a defective pool fence to avoid a defective pool gate drowning include:
- Manufactured from materials that are not easy to climb
- Spaced correctly to ensure small children cannot fit through the uprights
- Installed at the height of no less than 48 inches
- Fabricated with lockable gates self-latch and self-latching
- Installed with standard hardware that is rust-resistant and corrosion-proof
- Periodic inspection to ensure that the gate functions properly, is maintained, and is in working order
A pool fence should also be constructed in such a way as to prevent water from getting behind it and pooling up on the other side of a damaged or breached fence. A pool gate and fence should also be coded with an international symbol of access, indicating that the area is safe for people to use however they are able.
How Proper Gates Prevent Injury
Whenever a pool accident that results in hospitalization occurs, the first question that must follow is whether the incident could have been avoided and if the owner of the facility took appropriate safety measures. Pool gates are meant to keep people out of the swimming area while the facility is closed, barring unsupervised children from gaining access gates to ensure guests' safety.
Under Illinois law, these gates must be at least four feet tall, no higher than four inches off the ground, and designed so that they cannot be climbed primarily as a measure to keep small children out of the pool when it is closed.
A Property Owner's Legal Liability for Defective Pool Gates and Fences
Was your child injured in a severe pool accident? For example, was the accident a near-drowning or drowning incident?
The pool owner might be legally responsible for compensating you and your family members for failing to provide sufficient prevention measures to keep your child from accessing the water.
The pool owner must ensure that the fence and gate are quality-made and strong to provide ultimate protection and safeguard children from entering the pool area. The pool owners legal liability might be the result of:
- Not properly installing and attaching the gate to the fence using non removable hinges or permanent hardware
- Not properly calibrating and maintaining the gate and fence mechanisms to fix and close the gates upon command
If a child can open or unlatch a defective pool gate, there's likely something wrong with the mechanism allowing people to access the area. It might indicate that another guest in the pool area assaulted your child. Still, it might also mean that the safety measures are insufficient to protect many young children from dangerous hazards.
In some cases, property owners cannot be held liable for an accident if they take precautions and have done everything they could to ensure that a guest's safety is eventually secured at all times. However, in other cases, a court might find that a property owner was negligent or careless and therefore must be held liable for any damages incurred due to their failure to protect a guest.
Illinois law requires all pools with a depth of more than four feet to have proper fencing over the top of the structure that is at least four feet high and has a latch-able gate that is self-closing and self-latching. A pool area should also be closed to prevent unsupervised children from entering the area and suffering any injuries resulting from an accident and drowning and near-drowning accidents.
International Residential Code
The International Residential Code (IRC) establishes requirements for residential pool gates. Residential pools are those which are privately owned, not community or public pools. The IRC code for residential swimming pool barriers is as follows:
3109.2 Barrier Requirements
For pool safety, barrier protection must comply with the following:
- Fences enclosing in-ground pools shall be at least 48 inches (1219 mm) high, measured from the outside of the fence on the interior side. Railings and other parts which could allow a 4-inch (102-mm) diameter sphere to pass through any opening shall not be used for this purpose.
- Fences enclosing above-ground pools shall be at least 48 inches (1219 mm) high, measured on the side of the fence that faces away from the pool.
- Decks and platforms at any level shall not be used for applying this section; decks and platforms shall provide a 42 inch (1067-mm) minimum clear width.
- All gates to barrier patios or yards containing residential pools shall self-close and have a self-latching device.
- When provided with fencing or other barriers, residential swimming pools shall also provide at least one readily accessible pool ventilated following Section 3109.1.6.
Product Liability Involving Drowning and Drowning Injuries
According to civil tort law, all companies must follow product liability laws revealing they must ensure that every product they designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold are safe. Product liability laws extend to defective pool gates and pool fences that are safe to Consumers when used for an intended purpose.
Any identified hazard to using the product, tool, or device is considered to be defective. For law clearly states that any breach of this duty causing harm to consumers could make the designer, manufacturer, or distributor legally liable for any harm suffered by others.
In other words, the law states that a company designing, manufacturing, and marketing pool gates and fence enclosures to the public for use by guests of backyard pools must ensure those products provide adequate protection against a drowning incident.
These product liability laws require all companies to ensure their pool gate meets specific criteria and properly works as intended. A failure to obey these laws is a legal liability that should be compensated for by the company making and selling the pool or gate enclosure.
The family of a child who drowned due to faulty pool fencing would have a better chance of suing the manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, and retailer for damages incurred as a result if they can prove negligence. For example, in a defective pool gate drowning case, the negligence would be in creating, marketing, and selling pool fencing to backyard pools without proper safety standards.
If you or someone you know has suffered harm due to an accident involving product liability laws, please use the contact form to connect to one of our expert product liability lawyers for assistance with your legal claim.
Our attorneys will carefully review all of the facts surrounding your case, examine any evidence gathered by law enforcement, and help determine whether filing a claim is the right decision.
Injuries Caused by Defective Gates Around Pools
Gates that do not lock properly or fail to keep people out can fail to prevent injuries either in the pool or on the grounds. Such injuries can include:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Brain edema
- Trips and falls that break bones
- Injuries to the head or neck
- Electrocutionin the event of adverse elements
The gate itself can cause personal injury if it falls while being climbed or if the material causes harm to someone attempting to jump it.
In addition, it is not uncommon for pool injuries to require a lifetime of expensive care after the accident— especially if there is trauma to the head or neck or if the victim was deprived of oxygen for an extensive amount of time.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit to Recover Compensation Through an Attorney-Client Relationship
Has your child suffered injuries after gaining access to a defective pool gate or fence? Did a defective product injure them? You likely have the legal right to file a civil lawsuit to recover compensation.
However, how do you go about filing a case, and how much should you likely recover? The answer to this question is that it all depends on the specific facts surrounding your case.
To file a product liability claim, the plaintiff must prove three different things:
- That there was a negligent act or omission by one or more parties involved in manufacturing, marketing, and selling the defective product That the victim's injuries were caused by this negligent act or omission That the victim's injuries were suffered
- While proving all of these elements does not guarantee that you will win your case, it will greatly increase the likelihood of being eligible for compensation.
Contrary to what many people believe, product liability claims do not have to involve physical injury. However, a consumer likely has a case if they were hurt using the defective product as intended.
Should this apply to your situation and you would like to file a lawsuit against the negligent party, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to file your claim quickly and correctly to maximize the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive.
Filing a Claim With the Manufacturer vs. the Retailer
There are two different defendants in these cases: the negligent manufacturer or distributor and the negligent retailer or supplier.
For instance, if your child's defective pool gate was manufactured by Company X but was sold at a pool store, Company X will likely be the defendant, and that retail store would be a co-defendant.
You may file your claim against both defendants in some cases, but it is important to remember that this does not always happen. Furthermore, it can make your case more difficult as there would now need to be two different trials.
What Damages Are Available in these Types of Cases?
When filing a personal injury claim of any kind, the victim could potentially be eligible to receive three different types of damages. These are:
- Economic Damages: Also known as "compensation for out-of-pocket expenses," this type of damage covers any money the plaintiff had to pay during their recovery processes, such as medical bills and lost wages.
- Non-Economic Damages: This type covers any pain and suffering the victim experienced, such as physical pain or emotional anguish.
- Punitive Damages:These damages cover a situation in which a defendant's behavior was particularly reckless or outrageous. It also covers cases where they knowingly sold a defective product to the public.
If you would like to discuss these cases in more detail, it is important to talk with an experienced attorney.
Attorneys' Experience Matters in Filing Product Liability Claims
Since product liability cases often involve very serious personal injury or death, your attorney must have the experience necessary to handle these types of claims. When deciding whether to hire an attorney, there are three things you need to consider:
How long the attorney has been practicing law and what types of cases they typically handle. Whether you feel comfortable working with that attorney, your case can be handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will only pay for legal assistance after the judge awards compensation.
As these types of claims are very complex, you should make sure that you work with an attorney who has a great deal of experience and knowledge about the entire process. Otherwise, your claim may be dismissed, or, even worse, you could end up losing compensation as a result of mishandling your case.
How Long Do You Have to Sue?
Every state legislature has enacted a statute of limitations that restricts the amount of time injured victims or surviving family members of drowning victims can file a civil suit against those who caused harm through negligence.
In Illinois, this time limit is two years. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. One exception is if the injured party (or their surviving family members) was a minor at the time of personal injury.
If that is the case, they have until two years after their eighteenth birthday or thirty days after the state has issued their death certificate in which to file a claim.
A second exception applies to anyone subject to out-of-state military service during the time of the incident in question. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident, you could still file a claim even if it has been more than two years since the damage occurred. For more information about filing civil claims, talk to an experienced attorney. The sooner you contact one, the better.
Who Is Liable for an Accident Involving a Child?
There are three parties involved in cases involving an injury to a child: The property owner where the accident occurred, such as a homeowner, apartment complex, business owner, etc.
The child's custodian at the time of injury, which could be a parent or someone, has been given temporary custody by the court for that specific occasion
Someone who had sustained injuries due to the child's actions might be a third party injured by your child when they were operating a motor vehicle, or someone hurt when your child fell and broke their arm at school.
In regards to accidents involving minors, the property owner is never found liable for an accident. However, they are still liable for dangerous conditions on their property that led to the accident.
Was your child's custodian being negligent in supervising them upon entering an establishment? If so, they can be held accountable for damages you sustain when your child is injured while under their supervision.
Lastly, anyone who sustains injuries because of a minor's negligent actions can file a civil suit against that minor. While this may be an unusual type of claim, it should always be explored for possible damages.
My Child Was Injured In the Neighbor's Pool? Do I Have to Sue My Neighbor?
Every homeowner carries a homeowner's insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage if an accident occurs on their property. So while it might appear that you are filing a civil suit against her neighbor, their insurance company will be paying your damages.
Additionally, damages related to how dangerous the situation was would be paid by the insurance company, not your neighbor. It might include medical expenses resulting from your child's injury, future surgeries that may be necessary, pain and suffering or emotional distress, etc.
Hiring Defective Pool Fence & Gate Attorneys to Resolve your Compensation Case
Did your child have access to a private or publicly operated defective pool fence and gate and was injured?
If so, it is essential to discuss your legal options with an Illinois swimming pool accident attorney to determine if the injuries could have been prevented. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has the knowledge and experience to protect your interests and deliver results when holding negligent pool owners accountable.
Were you injured or your loved one killed in an incident involving a defective or missing swimming pool fence? Contact our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.
Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to collect every bit of compensation that your case deserves, and if your lawyer fails to win or settle your case on your behalf, our services are free of charge.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.