Spinal Cord Injury From Diving in a Pool
Each year more than 10,000 Americans suffer from aquatic spinal injuries that occur while swimming.
Spinal cord injury is usually caused by a diving accident in which the victim hit their head on the bottom of the pool when entering at an unsafe angle.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for swimming pool victims and divers harmed by another's negligence.
Additionally, our law firm ensures families receive the financial compensation they deserve to pay for a lifetime of medical care and hygiene assistance for their loved one that suffered a diving injury.
Contact 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 our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Lakes, Rivers, and Swimming Pools Can Be Deceptive When Judging Depth
Many spinal cord injuries and broken backs result from a failure to perceive the depth of the water while playing in the water or participating in school curriculum aquatic activities. In addition, many studies show that water often appears to be significantly deeper than it is, leading to catastrophic judgment errors even by the most experienced divers and swimmers.
There are many reasons for diving being the fourth leading cause of life-altering injury in an underground or above-ground pool. The pool may appear shallow, but the bottom could be far below where you're standing, or your eyes can't tell when they should stop looking down.
For example, when you see underwater objects in the pool from above, it makes them appear much closer than they really are.
In shallow water, such as in a wading pool, people often underestimate dangerous risks such as slipping and falling because their feet touch solid ground.
Conversely, when compared to deeper water, many people overestimate how deep that water is and take unnecessary chances like diving into unknown depths without checking first.
The simple truth is that pools and lakes look much shallower than they are - even if you're an experienced swimmer.
Preventing Diving Accidents
To avoid the possibility of a diving injury resulting in death, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC suggests you follow these simple diving safety tips:
- Always swim with a buddy: Diving accidents are far less likely to occur when two people are watching for hazards that may be lurking beneath the surface.
- Know the water's depth: Don't dive into unknown depths unless it's an approved diving area. Verify what the depth is before making your plunge. If you're not sure about the depth, don't dive!
- Understand fluctuating water depths: When swimming outdoors on a summer day, be aware of how the lake and river depths can fluctuate due to natural elements such as rainfall and erosion. High water level makes the pool appear as shallow water, making them even more dangerous than usual because they can look deceptively safe.
Never dive in shallow water or into unknown depths without checking for underwater rocks or other debris that can cause severe spinal cord injuries. Although people often don't think about hitting the bottom of the pool while diving, it happens surprisingly often when shallow water diving.
If you're using a wading pool for your kids, be sure to monitor their activity constantly and never allow them to swim unattended. Spinal Injuries can happen quickly, and you don't want to take a chance that they get hurt because you weren't paying close enough attention.
Confusion Over Depth Perception Can Lead to Tragic Diving Accidents
Pool accidents are a very common cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States every year. Most of these accidents occur when swimmers underestimate the depth of water they're jumping into and experience a sudden and painful impact on the bottom surface.
One study, in particular, showed that 90% of diving accidents happened in deep water that appeared to be shallower than it was, leading to the conclusion that depth perception is one of the most common factors in diving injuries.
In a research study, participants were asked to estimate the depth of a pool that was only one foot deep. Very few of them gave accurate estimates. However, results improved dramatically on allowing them to get in the water and dive from a platform before giving their measurements.
Those who dove into the pool perceived it as being two feet shallower than it was, similar to the depth perception problems resulting in diving injuries.
So, whether you're a parent who wants your kids to have a safe and happy summer playing at the pool, or you want to enjoy some swimming for yourself without worrying about injury, remember the risks of shallow water diving and dive safely.
To get help with your diving injury case, contact an experienced attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC today. We offer free and confidential case evaluations to ensure that you or a loved one receives the best possible legal representation.
Contact us online or call (888) 424-5757 for a FREE consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer today.
Catastrophic Diving Injuries
Diving injuries occur mostly during the summer months and could be much higher if warm enough to swim all year long. Spinal cord injuries are devastating for both the victim and their families.
A spinal cord injury can leave a person paralyzed from the neck down with no control over bowel or bladder functions.
We must take every precaution possible to prevent these types of accidents from happening in our community.
Devastating Diving Injuries Are Common
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, diving injuries to the neck and cervical spine are the second most common cause of spinal cord injury in the United States. These catastrophic injuries occur when a person dives into the water and loses control of their body during entry or within seconds after hitting the water's surface.
These swimming pool accidents also often lead to other severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and paralysis.
Who Is at Risk for Diving Accidents?
According to the Center for Disease Control, males are two to three times more likely to suffer a diving spinal cord injury than females. In addition, men between the ages of 15-24 are at the highest risk for spinal cord injuries caused by a diving accident.
The fourth leading cause of life-altering injury is near-drowning in an underground or above-ground pool. The main reason why diving injuries occur is due to the failure of divers to take precautions before hitting the surface of the shallow water.
Prevent Life-Altering Diving Injuries While Swimming in Pools
There are many reasons why people dive into pools that could potentially cause them harm.
Some examples include:
- Attempting trick dives or flips;
- Cutting back on one side too early;
- Entering without contacting both feet together;
- Jumping off the sides of pools; and
- Standing up in shallow water
There are ways to prevent these types of diving injuries while swimming in pools. First, always stay within your limits, including age restrictions or physical limitations that you might have that may keep you from doing certain dives.
Second, contact the pool floor with both feet before extending for another dive, especially if there is any question about how deep the water is below you.
Contact Pool Floor Before Extending for Another Dive
Spinal cord injuries caused by skimming pool accidents affect many young people between the ages of 15-24 years old throughout our community every year. Diving injuries could be prevented if people knew to take the proper precautions while swimming in pools.
At no time should a person stand up out of the water unless they get their head above the surface first and always stay within their physical limitations. These diving safety tips will help reduce the odds of a person becoming paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.
Depletion of Oxygen and Risk of Paralysis
It is well known how important the spinal cord is to human motor function and other important bodily functions and how catastrophic an injury to this vital organ can be. Swimming pool accidents present a special risk of paralysis and other spinal cord injuries due to the tendency of victims to make contact with their heads or cervical spine against pool surfaces or structures.
Paralyzed victims cannot swim to the pool's surface following an accident, which can also result in drowning or brain damage caused by depletion of oxygen to the brain.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries Involving Pool Accidents
Spinal cord injuries occur both in and out of the water and are often the result of a lack of proper pool safety measures to prevent slips and falls or defective swimming pools, diving boards, or water slides. Common injuries include the following.
- Injuries to the head and cervical spine are caused by diving into a pool's shallow end and striking the head against the pool floor: The downward slope of the pool can contribute to the risk of head or spinal cord injury if the slope does not meet the specifications prescribed by Illinois swimming pool law
- Striking the head against a surface following a slip or a fall: Slips or falls on pool decks can occur on ladders, diving boards, water slides, pool decks, or while in the pool itself.
- Blunt trauma is caused by another swimmer diving or jumping into the pool and colliding with the victim: Having a trained lifeguard greatly reduces the risk that swimmers will behave recklessly, and lifeguards can remove people from the premises who pose a safety risk to others.
Taking Responsibility to Avoid a Diving Injury
Every swimmer, diver, and pooled-go is responsible for protecting themselves and their loved ones from an avoidable diving-related spinal cord injury. The steps they take to stay safe include:
- Educating themselves about safe water habits
- Only swimming when a lifeguard is present
- Always entering the water feet first, even if you do not want to dive
- Avoid diving altogether to avoid any possibility of suffering a catastrophic injury or paralysis
- Swim with other divers in open water without being able to touch the bottom or stand up
- Choosing an appropriate swimming pool
Pools are required by law to have a maximum slope of 1:48 on the main 33 feet, which is at the deep end. While this regulation helps avoid an injury related to head-end contact, it does not prohibit diving at all.
Diving Boards Are Prohibited in Illinois
Illinois swimming pool law also prohibits the use of diving boards. However, there are some exceptions for swimming pools containing water less than 5 feet deep or where no one is allowed to swim or dive except during certain designated times when a lifeguard is not on duty.
In addition, except for properly designed wading pools, Illinois swimming pool laws allow only steps and ramps to access the water.
Swimming Pool Slips and Falls
Slip and fall accidents occur at any time in a swimming pool environment, even when no one is diving or jumping into the water. Slip-and-fall accidents may result from surface contaminants such as algae or a lack of adequate illumination.
In addition to being careful when entering and exiting the water, swimmers can reduce their risk of suffering a serious spinal cord injury from pool falls by taking the following precautions:
- Swimming in open areas where there is no potential for collision with another swimmer or diver
- Avoiding alcohol consumption before swimming or diving
- Wearing appropriate swimwear, including clothes that do not become waterlogged or drag the swimmer down
- Slow-moving when walking across pool deck areas to avoid slipping
- Following proper water safety practices at all times
- Illinois swimming pool law requires "SAFETY FIRST" signs for spinal cord injury prevention
All Illinois pools must display signage compliant with the "SAFETY FIRST" Spinal cord Injury Prevention Act. The law requires pools to post signs at all entrances warning swimmers not to dive in shallow water less than 5 feet deep. Still, it also requires that the following message be prominently displayed on pool decks and doors, as well as wherever tickets or passes, are purchased:
"WARNING: NO DIVING IN POOL UNLESS DEPTH IS 5 FEET OR MORE. IF YOU DROWN, SWIMMER'S BODY MAY PENETRATE THE SLOT HOLES IN THE BOTTOM OF THIS POOL."
Cost of Medical Care Necessitated by A Spinal Cord Injury
Ongoing care for spinal injuries can range from $15,000-$30,000 each year. Depending on the injury's severity and the form of paralysis, a lifetime of care can cost up to $3 million.
In addition to the financial burden are the pain and suffering and lost wages that come from a complete change of lifestyle and the inability to perform what were once simple tasks. Therefore, if you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury because of a pool accident, you must speak with an accident attorney about your case.
In many cases, the circumstances leading to the spinal cord injury could have been prevented, and the pool operator may be responsible. However, whenever the facility owner is aware of a safety issue and fails to correct it, the owner is liable for any injuries that occur on the premises.
An experienced swimming pool accident attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can provide you with a free evaluation to determine the value of your case and what the next course of action should be.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation so that we can fight for you to recover the compensation you are entitled to for the cost of your medical care, pain and suffering, and abrupt change to the quality of your life. We will be with you every step of the way, and if we cannot collect damages on your behalf, our services are free.