A swimming pool can be many things -- a cooling oasis on a summer day, a place to get some exercise, the site of countless family memories. It can also be the site of a serious injury or death. Recently, our law firm discussed a little-known but very real form of drowning, secondary drowning.
While we continue to support efforts to prevent drowning and protect drowning victims, it is important to remember that there are numerous other forms of swimming pool injuries. These varied dangers can often be avoided by prudent efforts of property owners and operators and, when injuries stem from a person or entity's negligence, the victims and their families deserve compensation for their physical, financial, and emotional suffering.
In preparing this post, we looked at headlines from a range of places but focused only on July 2014 (one injury occurred the prior month). The following are three examples of pool injuries that did not involve drowning:
On Wednesday July 9, 2014, as reported by WBALTV, emergency responders were called to the YMCA's Camp Letts in Edgewater, Maryland where dozens had been exposed to dangerous levels of chemicals. The camp pool operated using an automatic pump system that injected chemicals to maintain a proper pH level. While children were swimming, the pump released dangerous amounts of either sodium hypochlorite or muriatic acid into the pool. A YMCA official speculated that a storm the night before was to blame. After initial decontamination onsite, 31 kids and 4 adults were taken to area hospitals. More than half were released by the mid-afternoon, although 13 children suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries such as respiratory distress and internal chemical burns.
On July 15, a man spoke to reporters at Portland Oregon's KPTV about an accident that occurred the prior month. The man was at a friend's pool when he dove into the water and hit bottom. He says he was instantly unable to move and knew he'd broken his neck. Luckily, his friends saw him, got him out of the water, and performed CPR. The incident left the victim a quadriplegic, meaning he lost use of his arms and legs. It took weeks to relearn how to speak. Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center, where the injured man is receiving care, reports that nearly 1,000 people are injured each year in the U.S. due to diving into a shallow water area.
A news outlet from the United Kingdom reported on a fire that erupted in the pump room of a swimming pool on July 23, 2014. The fire involved both the generator and pool chemicals. Three fire crews, wearing breathing equipment, tended the blaze and placed chemicals in drums to facilitate safe disposal.
The foregoing is a small sample of the wide range of accidents that occur in and around pools. With those accidents comes a range of potential legal claims. Premises liability claims against pool owners/operators can be based on a specific danger (ex. an unreasonably slippery deck), a failure to maintain the property (ex. a system that isn't inspected/maintained), or a failure to warn (ex. not having a sign warning that the water was too shallow for diving). Products liability claims could also attach if faulty equipment led to the injury (ex. a chemical pump with a defective electrical system).
If you or a loved one was injured at a swimming pool, particularly at a hotel or another corporate-owned site, you may have a legal claim. Call our attorney to learn more about your rights.
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