Swimming Pool Defects
Accidents in swimming pools occur when swimmers are unaware of the dangers that can lead to injury or death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings in 2014 alone.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for swimming pool victims and surviving family members who lost a loved one to preventable drowning.
Call our Chicago drowning attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your swimming pool accident lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under five years old, and it can happen in a matter of minutes. There are nearly ten thousand drowning deaths each year in the United States alone.
While many of these tragedies occur at home or on vacation, others occur at public swimming pools. Since most people don't have their own private pool, this means that millions of swimmers visit swimming pools every day without knowing how to protect themselves from injury or death.
To help prevent drownings and other injuries involving public swimming facilities, we need to understand how they work and what safety measures should be taken while using them.
Did You Suffer a Swimming Pool Accident Injury?
When enjoying using a swimming pool, the last thing you anticipate is experiencing an accident. However, the failure of pool operators to address known swimming pool defects results in degraded pool safety and increased risk of injury to those who use the facility.
Defective materials or equipment could contribute to a pool accident. Therefore, it is important to explore your legal options with an experienced pool accident attorney so that the pool operator is held liable for the cost of your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Common Pool Design and Maintenance Defects
Illinois pool law requires pool operators to maintain their facilities and provide safety measures to prevent slips, falls, and injuries that can occur while the pool is unattended. Common pool defects that can cause injuries requiring hospitalization to include the following:
- Defective swimming pool gates that fail to keep children out of the facility after closing
- Structures that do not meet their load-bearing requirements
- Old, broken, or defective drains pose a risk of entrapment and drowning due to suction.
- Surfaces that lack slip-resistant material to prevent falls
- Diving boards that lack proper railings prevent divers from falling from the diving board while walking to the end of it
- Un-monitored levels of chemicals that may cause injury to swimmers
It is the responsibility of the pool owner or operator to bring any defective equipment or structures up to the Illinois pool code, and a failure to do so can make the property owner or operator liable for any injuries sustained due to the defects.
Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pool accidents typically have various contributing factors that injure swimmers or lead to drowning. The most common causes of pool accidents include the following.
Suction from a broken or contaminated drain can lead to drowning in a matter of minutes when a swimmer becomes stuck and unable to surface for air.
A broken diving board is another example of equipment malfunction that can cause injury to swimmers when they jump from the board and end up with a permanent injury.
Inadequate Swimming Pool Safety Measures
Most swimming pool accidents occur when proper safety measures are not taken to protect swimmers from harm.
When lifeguards are not present, or there is no second set of eyes watching for trouble, even experienced swimmers can find themselves in a dangerous situation.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Pool accidents involving alcohol or drugs are common when the pool operator allows people to swim under the influence of substances that impair their ability to react in emergencies or safely use equipment such as a diving board.
In addition to other safety measures, Illinois state law prohibits pool operators from serving or allowing patrons to serve or consume alcohol while swimming in the pool area.
Intoxicated patrons are also prohibited from engaging in horseplay, which can cause injuries to other swimmers and result in an increased risk of drowning when one of them becomes consumed with playfulness.
Inadequate Supervision of Children
Accidents involving children often occur when adults or lifeguards are not present to prevent them from becoming trapped underwater by suction, dragged into the bottom of a pool due to inadequate flotation devices, or pulled off the edge of a pool by other swimmers.
Inadequate Lighting and Lack of Depth Perception
Most swimming pool accidents require some degree of darkness to cause injury, ranging from a lifeguard's flashlight not reaching into an area behind a slide or diving board where someone may be hiding (potentially intoxicated) to the difference in lighting between indoor and outdoor pools.
Without effective lighting, even experienced swimmers can have difficulty noticing water conditions such as hairline cracks in the pool deck or low spots where someone could fall and be submerged underwater.
Pool Decks That Are Too Steep or With Stairs Leading Into the Pool
Steep diving boards and decks that slope too quickly into deeper water and stairs leading into the pool pose a risk to swimmers who cannot see how steep the incline is or whether there may be a step or another object in their way when they attempt to exit the pool.
Inadequately Covered Pools
Small children can fall inside a covered pool due to faulty cover design, such as an inadequate railing system that allows children to slip through or improperly set up covers that can give way when someone is standing on them.
Suction from a faulty drain can lead to drowning when swimmers become stuck and unable to surface for air. An improperly installed or broken drain can cause similar problems by pulling objects and even swimmers underwater if the suction is strong enough.
Incorrectly Designed Diving Boards
Diving boards that are too steep, too short, or installed improperly at the edge of a pool may pose a risk to swimmers. Therefore, professional installers should set high-diving boards and platforms that know how to properly position and secure them.
Inadequately Protected Pool Heaters
Pool heaters should be completely covered, and their heating elements should not extend beyond the pool wall by more than an inch. Temperatures should also be monitored to ensure that they do not get hotter than 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
Inadequately Constructed or Maintained Pool Filters
A lack of proper filtration can lead to a buildup of contaminants in the water, which can cause other problems such as chemical imbalances.
Many pool accidents involve someone falling silently into the pool and drowning without making a sound. That's why it is important to install an alarm system that alerts you when someone has entered the water, as well as safety covers for pools and hot tubs, covers for spa jets and drains, and other protective systems.
Inadequately Constructed Pool Decks
Improper concrete sloping, loose tiles, and broken coping materials can give way underneath someone walking on the deck or diving into the pool. In addition to being a dangerous hazard for swimmers, these conditions also require a lot of costly maintenance to repair.
Understanding local building codes and ordinances and knowing how to identify and fix unsafe pool conditions before someone gets hurt is the best way to keep children and adults from harm.
Swimming Pool Electrocution
Pool electrocution is an electrical shock that occurs when a person comes into contact with the pool water through which the electric current is passing.
The shock can cause incapacitation or death. Defective swimming pool electrocution can be caused by an incorrectly wired pump, faulty circuit wiring, and broken pool equipment such as lights and pumps.
Improperly Fenced Pools
Many states require all pools to be enclosed by a fence with an access gate that is self-closing and lockable. However, when the gate does not close securely, or someone propped it open so children can pass through, the pool may risk local children.
The pool should also have permanent markers showing the location of where the fence begins and ends, so swimmers do not try to enter or exit at an area where there is no barrier.
Common Swimming Pool Accident Injuries
Swimming pool accidents typically involve bodily injury and can result in hospitalization and permanent injury. Beyond the risk of drowning, some common swimming pool accident injuries include:
- Head and neck trauma from diving into shallow water or falling off a pool deck
- Broken bones from jumping from high structures such as diving boards or falling on hard surfaces
- Struck by swimmers who run into an area of the pool where they are not looking
- Problems with electronic equipment such as automatic cleaners and solar panels that startle swimmers who then become submerged without warning
- Poisoning from chemicals including chlorine, bromine, or copper in pools
- Weakened immune systems due to open wounds and exposure to contaminants in pools
- Lacerations from sharp surfaces such as exposed metal edges on a pool
The Doctrine of Attractive Nuisance
All public and private swimming pool owners are legally obligated to provide swimmers, divers, and pool-goers a safe environment free of being injured or killed at the site.
State laws based on the attractive nuisance doctrine hold that a pool owner or manager most reasonably prevent young children from trespassing or using the facility without the pool owner's knowledge or adult supervision.
For example, public pools not properly fenced that lack safety equipment could be considered an attractive nuisance to a child who then falls into the water or wanders into it without parental supervision.
The most common form of public pool defect lawsuits is improper fencing, deck conditions, and lifeguards. However, cases also involve defective pool drain covers, faulty underwater lights, and other safety hazards.
An Overview of Swimming Pool Negligence Claims
Most state laws require all public and private pools to provide a safe environment for swimmers, divers, and pool-goers.
Property owners must make sure the pool is constructed properly with strong materials that meet local building codes. In addition, they should have lifeguards on duty at all times. If there are not enough lifeguards on duty, the pool should have safety equipment readily available to injured swimmers who are in trouble.
The pools need sturdy fences that are at least four feet tall and have self-closing gates with locks, as well as permanent markers showing where the boundary begins and ends.
Swimming Pool Diving Boards
One of the most common causes of swimming pool accidents is diving into water that is too shallow. The typical depth requirement for professional-grade diving boards is eight feet at the deep end and five feet at the shallow end.
The typical depth requirements for residential diving boards are six feet at the deep end and three feet at the shallow end. Diving boards come in a variety of styles, including single and double diving boards.
Severe Injuries Caused by Swimming Pool Defects
Defective pools can cause severe and life-threatening injury to pool-goers— especially if they are children. Common injuries that result from pool defects include paralysis caused by trauma to the head and spine, fractured bones caused by slips or falls, adverse reactions to elevated chemical levels, drowning, or death.
Defective structures have the potential to fall onto swimmers, causing injuries or trapping victims beneath the surface.
Hiring Swimming Pool Injury Attorneys to Resolve Your Compensation Case
Were you or a loved one hurt because of a defective pool? Did the pool operator know of the defect and its threat to the safety of the pool's visitors?
If so, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of your medical bills, time off of work, pain and suffering, and ongoing medical care for an injury that affects your quality of life.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are pool accident attorneys who work tirelessly to protect the interests of the injured. Contact our swimming pool injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 today for a free consultation. Let an accident attorney review the details of your case and learn more about your legal rights and options.
During the evaluation of your evidence, our swimming pool defect attorneys will explain the litigation process to you to know what to expect and how we will proceed with your case.
Our law firm is confident in our ability to fight for what you are entitled to and will agree to take your case on a contingency fee basis where we require payment for our services only if we win or settle your case.