Summer is in full swing. Throughout Northwest Florida, as is true across
much of the United States, swimming pools are one of the most popular
places to be. Swimming is one of the highlights of a summer vacation;
individuals and families visiting Florida hotels often make the swimming
pool their first stop after dropping their bags in their room (children
often don't want to wait even that long!). Like many of you, we love
swimming. Like all of you, we love our community's children much more.
While we'd rather the need never arise, we stand ready to advocate
for victims in the case of a hotel pool drowning.
Vacationing Doctor Helps Save Child From Drowning Death in Hotel Pool
One family's Florida vacation was interrupted by some terrifying moments
over the weekend. As detailed by reporters with the Northwest Florida
Daily News, at approximately 4 P.M. on Sunday, witnesses pulled a six
year-old girl from the bottom of the swimming pool at the Tops'l Beach
and Racquet Resort. A doctor, on vacation himself and at the pool merely
by chance, started CPR. Both Walton County Sheriff's Department and
the South Walton Fire District responded to the scene. By the time the
ambulance arrived, she was alert and responsive.
The property is located in Walton County at 9001 U.S. Highway 98, Destin.
Reports indicate the girl and her family are from Atlanta and were in
Florida for a family reunion. Authorities transported her to Sacred Heart
Hospital. Her condition was not known as of the time of the article.
Statistics on Pool Drownings in the U.S. and in Florida
Poolsafety.gov, an effort spearheaded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, provides an infographic filled with statistics on Drowning
Deaths and Injuries. The page opens with a reminder that drowning is the
#1 cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.
On average, 390 children die annually from drowning in pools and spas across
the country and emergency rooms treat an average of 5,100 children each
year for injuries stemming from a drowning incident in a pool or spa.
Of special note -- the page cites 2012 media reports suggesting that Florida
saw 42 accidental drowning deaths involving kids ages 0 to 14, the highest
number of fatalities seen in any state.
Hotel Pools and Florida Injury Law
Typically, a civil injury or wrongful death action involving a child drowning
on a hotel property is a matter of premises liability law. This area of
law deals with the duties a property owner/operator may owe to someone
who enters the property. Under this doctrine, the precise duties owed
depend on the relationship between the owner/operator and the visitor.
The highest level of duties attaches when guests are invited onto the
property for a business purpose.
Generally, a hotel must maintain all areas, including pools, in a reasonably
safe condition and warn of possible dangers that may not be obvious (ex.
water too shallow for diving). Hotels may be held liable if their pool
areas fail to comply with safety laws and requirements, including such
as having appropriate safety equipment available and keeping drains and
other parts in safe working order.
Special protections extend to children. While there are usually very limited
protections extended to trespassers, the attractive nuisance doctrine
protects children who are technically trespassers but are drawn to the
property by a tempting feature such as a pool or trampoline.
Owners will be held liable in civil court if they fail to take reasonable
steps to protect children from being injured by such property features.
Pool owners must, for example, provide special protections to prevent
children from accessing a pool during "closed" hours and falling
victim to a dangerous accident. Failing to do so may open them up civil
Pools can be great fun and can even provide help keep people safe from
the summer heat. Whether you are a resident or a visitor, we hope your
days by area swimming pools form wonderful memories that will last forever.
If, instead, your memories become nightmares because of a negligent hotel
or other careless pool owner/operator, please call us.
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