Accidental pool chemical exposures can cause serious injuries. Pool chemicals are added to water in treated recreational water venues primarily to protect public health, but these same chemicals can cause injuries if mishandled.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured victims harmed by another’s negligence. For example, many resorts fail to provide a safe swimming environment, especially when children use the pool.
Call a Chicago drowning attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
A Pool Chemical (Chlorine) Accident
Water treatment chemicals are used in treated recreational water facilities to safeguard public health. These compounds destroy germs, improve water pH and clarity, and aid in detecting distressed swimmers underwater. Unfortunately, these same chemicals might cause injuries if incorrectly used.
However, the CDC data reveals that pool chemical exposures do not usually occur when chemicals are used and handled properly. Instead, most injuries involve splash-back and side-stream inhalation of concentrated chlorine gas, pool disinfectant products, and muriatic acid.
The CDC states that pool chemical exposure symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Stomach pain
- Eye irritation
- Coughing, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea
- Blistering or burning sensations in mouth or throat (aluminum or calcium hypochlorite)
Allergic reactions to wet cement, plaster, swimmer’s ear (external otitis), and other causes also result from entering a treated recreational water facility. The best way to prevent splashes and accidents is for visitors to maintain safe practices around these facilities and carefully follow all posted rules and regulations.
Swimming Pool Accident Statistics
In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). The data offers insight into the most common pool chemical accidents and injuries involving children, teens, and adults.
According to CPSC data for 2017:
- Pool chemical exposures accounted for 1.8 percent of all reported emergency room visits
- Of all pool chemical exposure victims, 12 percent were under the age of five
- About 16% of swimming pool fatalities involved children 14 and younger
- Preschoolers were exposed to pool chemicals at a rate of 39.4 per 100,000 children under five years old
- The most common age group for pool chemical exposures was 15 to 24-year-olds
- Chlorine gas led the list of chlorine products involved in all types of swimming pool accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident that might be due to someone else’s negligence, call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, for legal advice and schedule your free consultation. Injury compensation may be available if you have been harmed.
Improper Chemical Handling
Unfortunately, poor chemical treatment handling and care are responsible for a significant portion of swimming pool accidents.
Therefore, pool chemicals should always come with usage instructions, including the number of pool chemicals used in swimming pools and spas according to the quantity of water in the pool or spa.
Safety instructions should be exact to the letter to avoid swimmer harm or mishap. Pool chemicals can harm swimmers and other pool users in a variety of ways.
The following are the most frequent methods:
- Using improper pool chemicals or too strong a dose
- Adding minimal chemicals to the spa or swimming pool
- Improperly stored chemicals by employees who never had safety equipment training
- Accidentally ingesting high levels of chemicals in pool or spa water
The above problems are not the only ways pool chemicals may harm swimmers, but they are the most frequent. For example, adding an incorrect quantity of chemicals to a pool might result in significant chemical burns that permanently scar a swimmer.
On the other hand, failing to add adequate chemicals can result in potentially fatal bacteria or parasites in the pool, as well as severe illnesses; even improperly storing chemicals might induce breathing problems.
Common Pool Chemical-Related Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming pool-related illnesses and injuries in the United States account for at least 40,000 emergency room visits and nearly 300 drownings yearly.
Many of these swimming pool accidents can be attributed to improper chemical use or mishandling of pool chemicals by untrained pool owners and renters, such as:
- Swimmers ingesting bleach while swimming in a pool with no chlorine levels high enough to protect against bacteria growth
- People failing to close a container of liquid chlorine tightly before storing it on a shelf above the waterline, and violation of safety rules
- Pool operators allow a chlorinator or filtration equipment to become clogged over time, leading to buildup that ultimately blocks disinfectant from reaching the waterline, causes bacteria growth and subsequent health hazards associated with not having the proper chlorine level to maintain a healthy pool environment
- Renters renting a cottage or other dwelling that has an above-ground pool and failing to close the equipment related to the filtration system before leaving or not closing it securely enough, such as by not attaching alligator clips which would prevent theft
What Can I Expect at My Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Meeting?
When you meet with your swimming pool accident attorney, he will go over the details of how your loved one became injured and assess where responsibility lies. Generally speaking, whoever is responsible for maintaining and managing the chemical levels in a pool may be held liable if those chemicals were mishandled improperly, causing a swimming pool injury to swimmers.
Your swimming pool accident attorney will help you determine whether other parties should be included as defendants in a swimming pool accident lawsuit.
- Pool owners, managers, or renters might be held liable if the injuries occurred as a result of improper chemical application or mishandling by those who have been contracted to manage and maintain the chemicals
- Manufacturers of defective equipment such as clogged filters may be named as defendants
- In some cases, manufacturers of faulty pool equipment that are directly responsible for your loved one’s injuries may also be named as defendants
If you have suffered a serious injury related to a swimming pool, contact an experienced attorney immediately to speak with a qualified legal professional about filing a claim against those responsible for your pain and suffering!
Most commonly cause the following injuries:
- Minor first-degree burns
- Second-degree chemical burns
- Severe first-degree chemical burns
- Allergic reactions to pool chemicals
- Chemical pneumonia from inhaling dangerous fumes
- Respiratory distress or respiratory arrest from breathing in toxic fumes or ingesting harmful chemicals
- Bacterial infections
In some swimming pool accident cases, those with severe allergies may require emergency services for anaphylaxis if a rented cottage does not have a working first aid kit. Inhalation of chlorine gas by bathers may also cause throat and eye irritation as well as difficulty breathing.
Some people have pre-existing conditions that make them more susceptible to injuries caused by pool chemicals, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Emphysema (a chronic lung disease)
- Drowning as a result of chemical intoxication
Preventing Pool Chemical Accidents
According to the CDC, pool chemical injuries are on the rise. Some of these injuries are minor, but others are more serious, causing chemical burns or blindness. A chart illustrating pool-related incidents in 2011 shows that 83 percent were due to “contact with pool chemicals,” and 14 percent were caused by “skids/trips/falls.”
Unfortunately, young children are usually harmed by these accidents because they tend to stick their hands directly into the water where chemicals are added.
According to PoolSafely.gov, there is no foolproof way to guarantee your protection against every swimming pool accident involving chemicals. However, following certain safety guidelines does make it less likely for you or someone you know to become injured. Below is a list of suggestions suggested by the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry:
- Closely supervise children in or near the pool at all times, especially when chemicals are present. When chemical containers are open or when you move them, always point the container in a safe direction (e.g., towards the wall) and stand to the side until you’re sure there is no risk of it splashing on you by accident. Never allow children to handle these chemicals unsupervised; if they need help with anything, take them over to someone responsible first. Even better, consider getting an automatic pool cleaner that will do most of your work for you.
- Use less dangerous alternatives such as trichloro-s-triazinetrione (considered safer because it decomposes into a nontoxic substance) or calcium hypochlorite, sold as pool shock. However, keep in mind that these alternatives have risks, and you should still exercise caution when handling them.
- Avoid combining different chemicals unless necessary. There may be times where it’s best to mix your chemicals outside of the swimming area, even if they don’t normally react poorly with each other.
- Never throw anything directly into the pool, including cigarettes, matches, lighters, tampons, condoms, etc.
- Read warning labels carefully and follow all directions precisely when pouring or mixing any chemicals into water or onto surfaces near the pool (e.g., decking). If something recommends that you call a doctor if exposed, don’t hesitate to do just that.
- Make sure your pool is stocked with items that can be used in case of a swimming pool accident. For example, have towels nearby so people who get some of the chemicals on them can wipe them off right away. Have vinegar, which neutralizes chlorine-related chemical burns, available at all times along with baking soda (which helps with acidic substances like muriatic acid) and Epsom salts (to treat eye injuries). Keep several gallons of clean drinking water on hand for rinsing out eyes or other body parts; keep plenty inside the house, too, if you suspect someone might accidentally swallow chemicals while still outside the pool area.
- If there are children in your house, you should put up a safety gate at the top of any stairs leading to the pool, so they don’t accidentally fall in. Also, consider other ways to keep youngsters away from your pool when you’re not around (e.g., locked doors).
- Never assume that your kids (or anyone else) will recognize or understand what chemicals are kept near the pool; some may look like candy, and others may be disguised as something else entirely.
Teach everyone who spends time near your pool about what these chemicals are used for and make sure they understand how dangerous it is to ingest them, get them on their skin, or otherwise expose themselves to any of these chemicals, even if only for an instant.
Proving a Pool Chemical Accident Claims
Negligence laws and legal theories usually govern swimming pool accidents. However, if pool owner does not follow local safety or pool care regulations, they may be held responsible for any serious injuries caused by their carelessness.
If you can show that the pool owner was negligent, you may be able to claim compensation in several ways. The following four components of traditional negligence legal theory must be satisfied for you to seek compensation:
- The pool owner was required to ensure every swimmer’s safety
- The pool owner breached their duty to ensure the safety of swimmers
- The swimming pool accident was caused by a breach of their obligation to ensure the plaintiff’s safety
- The injury or harm suffered was serious enough to justify compensation
Finally, pool owners have a responsibility to keep swimmers safe on their property. While the specifics of your state’s negligence law may differ, many states follow similar laws.
If you can show that you have completed the required four elements, you may compensate for your serious injuries. However, even though this procedure appears to be simple, filing a lawsuit in court is anything but easy.
So, if you were hurt by pool chemicals and need a lawyer, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC. They will fight aggressively on your behalf to hold the property owner and their insurance company legally and financially accountable.
Do I Have A Claim If Pool Chemicals Injured Me?
State statutes and common law govern a pool owner’s duty to maintain a safe environment for swimmers. A pool owner must provide a reasonably safe swimming environment. Otherwise, they may be found negligent. There are several ways that a pool can become dangerous:
- Failure to install barriers: Certain states require property owners to fence in public or private pools with substantial barriers. Failure to place a barrier around a pool can make it easy for a swimmer to accidentally fall into the water and become submerged, possibly leading to drowning.
- Failure to maintain proper chemical levels: Swimming pools need chemicals to function properly, but too much or too little of them can be dangerous. In addition to providing safe pH levels, pool chemicals are necessary to disinfect the water. Failure to maintain proper chemical levels can cause an accumulation of bacteria or other organisms that may be harmful to swimmers. In addition, unsupervised children are especially at risk for injury by too much chlorine in the pool.
- Failure to provide appropriate lifeguard supervision: Some states require only one lifeguard for up to 24 swimmers, while others require one lifeguard for every 50 people in the pool. If your state requires that a lifeguard be present at all times, then failure to provide proper supervision can lead to serious injury or death if someone drowns.
- Attractive Nuisance: A “spectacular” swimming pool may attract many swimmers not supervised by their parents or any adult. Additionally, kids are more likely to trespass to get into the pool if it has a beautiful appearance that makes them think they want to swim there. Pool owners have a responsibility to prevent children from accessing the pool if adults do not supervise them.
Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve Your Swimming Pool Chemical Accident
Did pool chemicals severely injure you, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 to schedule your free initial consultation today.
Our lawyers work on contingency, meaning you will only pay us if we recover damages for you. Therefore, there is no risk in contacting our team today. Additionally, all confidential or sensitive information you share with your swimming pool accident attorney remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Our legal team will ensure you receive maximum compensation to pay for your medical bills, hospitalization, lost wages, pain, and suffering related to your pool injury.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers offers legal services in many areas, including car accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, product liability, dog bites, dangerous drugs, pedestrian fatalities, premises liability, and wrongful death.