Swimming pools provide a place to relax and cool off from the summer heat, but pool owners occasionally fail to appreciate the danger existing on their property. More than 200 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in pools and spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day of 2013. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 14. Most swimming pool injuries in NJ can be prevented through proper pool maintenance and supervision.
Pool Safety Saves Lives
There are several measures pool owners can take to prevent pool-related injuries and drowning:
- Install a four-foot fence around all pools, even shallow ones. A child can drown in as little as two inches of water. Make sure the gates are self-closing and self-latching.
- If your home is the fourth side of a fence around the pool, install audible alert door alarms. You should also install window guards on any windows facing the pool.
- Install a safety cover on your spa and make sure it is securely closed.
- Use a pool safety cover to cover your pool during extended periods of inactivity.
- Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa.
- Prevent overcrowding during pool use by designating a maximum number of occupants. Once the number is reached, others must wait their turn.
- Designate an experienced swimmer to serve as a lifeguard. The lifeguard should be watching the swimmers at all times, not texting or reading.
- Keep children away from pool pipes, drains and other openings to prevent entrapment.
- Use drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. Suction entrapment due to a faulty drain cover may be fatal.
- A Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) is necessary to prevent entrapment, entanglement and evisceration. It works by monitoring pump pressure and venting the suction line when an outlet is blocked.
- When a child is missing, always check the pool and spa first.
- At the end of the day, remove all toys and flotation devices from the pool and place them at least ten feet away to dry.
- To prevent slip and falls around the pool, apply a textured finish to the concrete, stone, or other decking material for improved traction.
Pool Owners and Premises Liability
While in most cases a property owner is not responsible for the harm that occurs to an individual trespassing on the property, there is a special rule applicable to structures on the private property that have a tendency to attract children. Swimming pools are an example of what is known as an “attractive nuisance.” Other examples of attractive nuisance include decorative fountains, old appliances like refrigerators or washing machines, and construction debris. If a pool is not properly fenced in, it is possible for a child to wander onto the property and suffer a potentially fatal injury as a result.
When a pool owner invites guests to enjoy the premises, there is a duty to keep the premises safe. A pool owner may be held liable if a child or adult is injured due to a slippery deck, diving board or ladder. Such injuries can be prevented through the use of non-slip materials on the area surrounding the pool as well as on diving boards, ladders, and walkways.
Head injuries and lacerations that occur due to diving into shallow water may be attributed to the owner’s failure to properly label the shallow end of the pool. Additionally, any diving boards or water slides should be placed in the deep end of the pool.
Recreational Swimming Pools and Premises Liability
Swimming pools located at water parks, amusement areas, and in hotels can be dangerous because swimmers assume the owners will provide a safe and secure place to enjoy the water. When accidents and injuries occur on these types of property, there may be multiple parties responsible. A negligent lifeguard or distracted swim instructor may be responsible for a child drowning, but the owner of the premises should still be held liable in the death of the child.
When it Comes to Premises Liability Claims, Experience Matters
Swimming pool accidents and injuries fall under premises liability, a complex area of the law that requires extensive knowledge. The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca have a combined 100 years of legal experience and will work towards getting you a settlement you are comfortable with. We are also seasoned trial lawyers and will advocate zealously in court to ensure fair compensation and justice for your injury or loss. Contact our offices today at (732) 965-3350 for a free consultation.