Lake Worth Swimming Injuries
When you stop and consider the average Lake Worth home, one of the things that will come to mind is a swimming pool that will usually be located on its premises. In addition, Lake Worth, and the surrounding areas, is known for its access to public and private beaches. The temperatures that can be found in this region of the country, along with the amount of sunshine, attract both residents and tourists to various water sports and other water-related activities. Unfortunately, swimming injuries can also account for a number of disabilities and even fatalities.
If someone happens to have a swimming pool located on their property, they have the responsibility to ensure that their swimming area is safe and adheres to state statutes governing pool safety.
Also, as the summer heat increases, we find that additional families make their way to public pools. While this can be a fun alternative to sitting around on a sweltering afternoon, there is also the possibility that a serious accident may occur. And, in many cases, these accidents could be avoided by paying attention to established safety requirements. Young children are particularly susceptible to drowning and other injuries. But even seasoned swimmers will often find themselves in a potentially deadly situation.Swimming Accident Statistics
According to government statistics, over 350 children, who are under the age of 14, will die as a result of drowning on an annual basis. In addition to this, nearly 5,900 children will receive injuries that will necessitate a visit to the hospital ER. The most tragic part is that out of the fatalities, over 75% will involve children who are under five years of age. It needs to be understood that it only takes a couple of minutes in order to have a horrible accident occur. In any case though, Lake Worth child drowning accidents show that these types of accidents can happen even if a child’s parent or guardian is diligently watching them. In addition, U.S. statistics reveal that Florida is one of the two highest states when it comes to drowning fatalities.
It can also be true that swimming injuries and pool fatalities are the result of negligence on the part of lifeguards or pool owners. In cases such as these, it may be possible to recover damages that were received by filing a lawsuit against those who are responsible. These damages can include items such as; lost wages, medical bills, disabilities and other losses.
It’s true that some of these tragic swimming pool accident cases may be attributed to the negligence of a swimming pool owner (or lifeguard). But, in any case, those who have become victims of such tragedies may also be able to recover damages that are designed to assist them in recovering lost wages and medical bill expenses.Types of Accidents That Can Happen at a Swimming Pool
Not being able to swim well and no proper supervision are found to be the most common causes of swimming accidents. However, there are, of course, other reason why swimming injuries happen. Some of these include:
- Slip and fall on a pool’s surrounding wet surface
- Head hit on the pool’s bottom due to diving into the shallow end
- Stuck/caught in the drainage system
- Slipping on a worn diving board’s surface
While some of these issues are the results of less than adequate experience when it comes to swimming and behaving around a pool or ocean swimming area, such is not always the case. Additional reasons for swimming injuries can be:
- Improper fencing to keep children out of the pool area
- No qualified supervision (lifeguard, pool staff members, etc.)
- A flaw in the swimming pool design
- A lack of available safety equipment
- A lack of warning signage in the area
- Defective or broken safety equipment.
While the first set of circumstances is indeed unfortunate, it’s the second set that could have been prevented, which makes them even more tragic.Who is Liable for a Swimming Accident?
When attempting to attribute liability to a swimming pool owner or swimming area management, the first thing to consider is whether or not the danger of injury was an obvious one. For example, let’s say that someone was running alongside the edge of a pool and slipped on a clearly visible puddle in an area in which signs that prohibit running are clearly posted. In a case such as this, a pool owner’s liability would more or less be difficult to prove. But if a person suffered an injury by slipping on a changing room floor surface, then there would be a better chance of a successful claim if the changing room tile design masked the wet surface.
This is an example of swimming pool owner negligence. In this case, four things need to be proven in a court of law. They are:
- The pool owner had a duty of care
- The pool owner breached that duty of care
- That breach of care was directly responsible for the accident
- There are damages that have resulted from the accident
These are the four conditions that are necessary for most negligence lawsuits. This is why it’s important to gather up evidence as quickly as possible in the case of a swimming accident.
Those who own property in Lake Worth are required, by law, to keep their property in a condition that is considered reasonably safe. If the owner fails to meet this legal obligation and their failure has resulted in an injury, then the owner of the property may be held liable for the results of that injury. This situation is legally covered by as the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA). (Florida Statute 515). In this statute, the owner of the property can be held liable for a failure to protect others from swimming pool accidents (especially frail adults and children). As such, the pool area must have at least one safety feature that is present in the pool’s area.
When filing suit against a pool owner, the only thing that needs to be shown is negligence per se. This involves the owner’s breach of their duty to provide a safe pool environment. At that point, it is incumbent on the victim to show the damages that have resulted from that breach.What Laws in Lake Worth Concern Swimming Pool Safety?
In the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, you will find a number of swimming pool safety statutes. These statutes must be met in order to pass their final inspection before being made available to the public. This will include having at least one safety feature present (Florida Statute 515.27). These safety features include:
- An alarm that will signal an unauthorized entry into the pool area. This will prevent someone from entering the pool area when the pool is closed and there is no lifeguard on duty. The alarm must be independently certified and meet the standards set down in ASTM Standard 2208 (“Standard Safety Specification for Residential Pool Alarms”). The alarm can be of many different types; surface, sonar, pressure, infrared, laser, etc. However, they can’t be designed to be a personal alarm such as one that is designed to be placed on a child to alert people when the child in under water or has ventured too close to the pool area (Florida Statute 515.27 1 (e)).
- Self-closing and self-latching doors that offer direct pool access must be in place. They are also required to have a release mechanism that is no lower than 54” above the floor, in order to prevent a child from accessing it. (Florida Statute 515.27 1 (d)).
- Direct pool access doors and windows, in a home, must be equipped with an alarm designed to alert of an exit and have a sound pressure that is rated at a minimum 85 dB A at 10 feet. (Florida Statute 515.27 1 (c)).
- The pool should have a safety cover that is approved (Florida Statute 515.27 1 (b)).
- A barrier with specifications, outlined in Florida Statute 515.29, should act as a barrier that separate the home from the pool.
While drowning is the most obvious answer to this question, there are other types of injuries that may occur at a pool or swimming area. These include:
- The brain can be deprived of oxygen for a long enough period to cause serious brain damage which can lead to; memory loss, inability to function normally and a loss of earning potential.
- Hitting the bottom of a pool can also result in brain damage that may require permanent on-going care. For example, the total cost of medical care can accumulate to over $180,000 per year, when it comes to resulting long-term expenses. In the most extreme cases, those costs can possibly rise to over $4.5 million during the lifetime of the victim!
- Bowl and intestinal damage can result from someone being stuck in a swimming pool’s drainage system. These are injuries that may continue to affect the person for the rest of their life.
- Spinal cord injuries may end up affecting the victim’s motor functions and speech centers. Partial or complete paralysis may also result. The paralysis may even affect the person’s breathing ability, necessitating a permanent need for oxygen ventilation.
When it comes to swimming injuries that have occurred on a person’s premises, the usual statute of limitations is four years from the date of the accident. In cases of a fatality, a close family member or the person’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. But the statute of limitations for that would be two years. When considering the limited amount of time that someone has in order to file a lawsuit, it makes sense to seek the advice of a swimming accident attorney as soon as possible.
This will provide the needed time to gather up any evidence of negligence and to contact any witnesses to the accident. It will also help to prevent any removal of evidence or property alteration.
When you, or a loved one, have been involved in a Lake Worth swimming pool accident, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you rightfully deserve. Therefore, when you, or a loved one are involved in a Lake Worth swimming pool accident, seek immediate medical care and contact a Florida premises liability attorney.Enlist an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
Deaths and injuries from swimming can be the result of negligence, which may occur in cities such as Lake Worth and anywhere else in Florida at any given time. In addition, it’s important to understand that while ocean or large pool swimming is often a factor, there are also many times when this isn’t the situation. There have been a number of cases in which a very small pool has resulted in an injury that eventually led to a person’s death.
If you or a loved one are involved in a swimming accident, contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney serving Lake Worth. Turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call (561) 800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.