Have you or a loved one been seriously injured in a swimming pool accident or near-drowning? Our expert personal injury and wrongful death attorneys can skillfully represent you and your family’s right to compensation.
Swimming pool accidents, like all personal injury, can happen without warning and are usually linked to negligence – by another person, company or manufacturer. What starts off as a day of family fun in the sun can quickly turn into a tragedy.
Common causes for swimming pool injuries and fatalities include:
- Slip, trip and falls on wet surfaces
- Drowning, near-drowning
- Negligent lifeguard supervision
- Improper water levels (too low or too high)
- Lack of warning signs
- Missing emergency floatation device
- Damaged pool exit ladders
- Malfunctioning pool lights
- Broken glass
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, we are committed to holding swimming pool owners and operators accountable for serious accidents, injuries and drownings. Our experience in Florida swimming pool premises liability claims is extensive, and we promise to give your case the personal attention it deserves.
Lorenzo & Lorenzo will fight to help keep you and your family afloat after such a tragic accident.
Note: At no point should you talk to an insurance company or sign any document from an insurer without first discussing it with your lawyer. Insurance companies will try to convince you to settle for a low offer or get you to say something they can use against you to deny your claim.
Swimming Pool Injury Statistics
Drowning is the leading cause of death among young children in the state of Florida, and is also a significant cause of fatality for the elderly. Considering the popularity of public and private pools in the Tampa area, drowning is a major concern for parents, seniors and all Floridians.
- From 2005-2009, there were approximately ten deaths per day in the United States from fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) – an average of 3,533 fatalities per year.
- Drowning ranks as the 5th leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S.
- Drowning causes more deaths in children (particularly African American and Hispanic children) ages 1-4 than anything else except congenital anomalies (birth defects). For children ages 1-14, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death after motor vehicle crashes.
- Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
- African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of white children in the same age range. (African Americans between the ages of 11 and 12 drown in swimming pools at rate of 10 times more.)
- Children age 5 and younger account for nearly 75% of pool and spa deaths. African-American and Hispanic children at especially high risk, since data shows that 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim
Swimming Pool Drowning – Who is Responsible?
When an accident or death occurs on another person’s property, public area or commercial business space, the case falls under premises liability law. In Florida premises liability cases, determining fault is dependent upon several factors. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the property owner to do as much as possible to ensure the safety of anyone entering the premises (even trespassers). If it can be proven that the property owner failed to meet these basic requirements, then a lawsuit for negligence can be filed.
Premises liability law applies to:
- Property possessors or operators. (For instance, a landlord could be held partly responsible for a swimming pool accident if he or she neglected to take reasonable care in protecting tenants and their guests from injury.)
- Government entities (federal, state, or local) and owners of government property such as municipal swimming pools, community pools or school swimming pools.
- Homeowners with private, residential swimming pools.
- Property owners of private or commercial pools intended for guests, members or tenants – including hotels, campgrounds, gyms, fitness clubs and apartment complexes.
In certain swimming pool accident claims, the cause may be due to a product malfunction. In these cases, negligence is not a primary factor since Florida product liability law is based on the concept of strict liability – the idea that fault can be imposed without a finding of negligence. If a swimming pool accident or drowning is due to an error in product design or construction, then the pool manufacturer (or the manufacturer of a component part), wholesaler, retail store that sold the pool to the customer, and assemblers or installers may all be included in the lawsuit.
What to Do in the Event of a Swimming Pool Accident
The moments following a near-drowning, drowning or serious swimming pool accident are critical. It is easy to become paralyzed by panic in the wake of such a startling event; however, these are the seconds and minutes that matter most. Follow these steps in the event of a swimming pool accident to protect your safety, health and legal rights:
- Make sure everyone is safe. First and foremost, the safety of everyone present should be ensured. If the victim is seriously injured, an ambulance should be called. Apart from the individuals assisting the victim, all people should exit the pool and stay a safe distance away. Do not leave the scene until police arrive.
- Take pictures of accident scene. If you or a loved one are the victim of a swimming pool injury, be sure to take as many pictures as possible of the accident scene – including the inside and outside of the pool from various angles, any warning signs, contributing pool equipment, fences and gates, and the location where the incident occurred.
- Gather witness information. Write down the names, addresses and contact information of any eyewitnesses if possible, or get a friend or family member to do so for you. Should your case go to court, witness accounts of the incident and their opinion of what caused it can be essential on the path to a successful claim.
- Preserve evidence. If any defective products were to blame for the swimming pool accident, be sure to keep these items in a safe place. If the object is held by someone else such as the property owner, talk to an attorney about filing a preliminary injunction to prevent destruction of the evidence.
- Document the incident. After the initial incident has passed and you’ve taken the proper steps to photograph the accident scene, gather witness information and preserve evidence, it is important to stop and write down the details of the accident as you remember them. Jotting down notes quickly after the accident can help ensure that certain details don’t get lost from memory forever. Also, be sure to save copies of all paperwork related to medical treatment, lost time at work, prescriptions, and the police report.
- Seek medical attention. Be sure that you or your loved one visits a doctor regularly during the recovery phase and follows all the steps they recommend. Failing to seek treatment from a medical professional can reduce your claim since defendants can make the case that you didn’t take reasonable measures to get well.
- Talk to an attorney. Obtaining medical care for you or your loved one is a top priority in the event of a swimming pool accident; however, seeking out expert legal counsel is also important to protecting your rights. An expert Tampa swimming pool accident attorney can help your family get the compensation you deserve and walk you through this difficult time.
Florida Requirements for Residential Swimming Pool Owners
In the state of Florida, all swimming pool and hot tub owners – both public and private – must comply with certain standards set by the state. These legal responsibilities are meant to reduce the dangers posed by swimming pools. According to Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, homeowners must ensure their pools are equipped with at least one of the following safety features or else risk being held liable in the event of an accident or drowning:
- A minimum 4-foot tall fence or barrier surrounding the pool or hot tub, with self-latching gates and openings that are less than 4 inches wide
- Pool/hot tub cover
- Exit alarms on doors and windows leading to the pool area
In addition, homeowners are responsible for properly supervising children who are using their swimming pool.
Contact an Expert Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer
Swimming pool accidents and near-drownings can result in a lifetime of medical bills, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages. A fatal drowning is devastating to the surviving family.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a swimming pool accident, it is important to talk to an experienced premises liability attorney immediately to discuss your legal right to compensation.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, your initial consultation is free and we work on a contingency fee basis – meaning we don’t charge you a cent until we have won your case. Our legal team is available 24/7 to take your call.