Drowning is still a leading cause of death for children aged 1-4, floating among the top 5 depending on where you are in the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that three children lose their lives every day, and even if they manage to survive, nearly dying in that specific manner results in life-altering injuries.
Parents and babysitters always have the same response, and it's incredibly true: “I only looked away for a few minutes!”
It takes fewer than five minutes for someone to drown.
The plaintiff (or the injured person) must illustrate that the defendant owed a duty of care;
The plaintiff must then prove that the defendant breached the duty;
The breach must be the proximate (AKA legal) cause of the injury; and
There must be damages.
Homeowners and pool owners can be held liable for any injuries, even if they weren't home at the time, because the pools are ultimately their responsibility.
Colorado property owners are required to maintain their premises in reasonably safe conditions and to warn visitors of any known dangers. They can even be held responsible for trespassers. If they fail to do that and their actions result in injuries, they can be held liable for the harm.
Some of these results can be prosecuted under the doctrine of “attractive nuisance.”
Under the Colorado Premises Liability Statute, children aren't as competent or experienced in the world as adults are. They look at a pool and think, “Oooooh, that looks fun.” Extra measures must be taken to deter children from finding their way in and hurting themselves in the process.
Types of injuries
Near-drowning accidents can result in terrible tragedies.
Submersion injuries cause oxygen starvation to the brain. They can happen because of the child's inability to swim, or faulty or malfunctioning swimming pool equipment. The biggest health concern is permanent damage to the brain, though faulty pool drains can also result in injuries to the bowels or other systems, which can result in lifelong injuries.
Diving into shallow water also can result in serious harm to the spinal cord or brain. These can cause permanent brain damage, which affects a person's cognitive abilities, language center, motor skills and many other functions. Neurological function will also be impaired, ranging from the ability to breathe, to partial or complete paralysis.
Drowning-related disabilities are life-changing in multiple ways. Medical costs for patients of this magnitude can hit $180,000 per year. If there is permanent brain damage, meaning decades' worth of costs, it can reach $4.5 million over that person's lifespan.
Statute of limitations for Colorado swimming accidents
If an individual has been injured while swimming on another person's property, he or she would have two years from the date of the accident to bring a premises liability case. They would also have that same amount of time to bring a wrongful death case. Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible will help to preserve your rights.
If injured while swimming on someone’s property, you have 2 years to bring a premises liability case.
How to swim safely
Here are some tips for safer swimming:
Make sure younger swimmers wear flotation devices, even if they complain about it
Don't read a book; keep a watchful eye on swimmers
Put your cell phone away while on duty
Don't swim by yourself; bring a friend with you
Don't swim after drinking, smoking or using prescription medication
Use pool noodles, tubes and other flotation devices. Encourage this by buying cool ones, like this.
Learn CPR and lifesaving swimming techniques
Best swimming and personal injury resources in Colorado
Here are some of the best organizations that are dedicated to teaching better swimming techniques and offering educational resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Swimming is a great way to get in shape, though it doesn't come without its risks. This site provides information for everyone from laypeople to medical professionals.
Colorado Parks and Recreation: The CPR is dedicated to increasing the knowledge and professionalism of everyone involved in the aquatics industry. This is done through workshops, trainings and special events.
Mackenzie's Mission: This website was started by the parents of Mackenzie Roecker, who suffered a non-fatal drowning when she was a young girl because of the negligence of others. The program provides water safety classes and life jacket education. They are currently the only program like this in northern Colorado.
National Swimming Pool Foundation: The NSPF's drowning prevention campaign aims to provide educational information so that fewer people die from unintentional accidents.
Splash: This swimming organization promotes pool safety and prevents accidents in swimming facilities by conducting facility safety checks, providing safety education, teaching swimming lessons and enforcing pool rules.
Swim Otters: While infant swimming is very controversial, many parents opt to have their children start learning as young as six months old. That is because much of this is about growth; children grow so rapidly that they are constantly re-centering their center of gravity. As such, they need to re-learn how to swim very often – not entirely, but in “tweaks.” Also, by starting so young, it instills the rule that it is a survival skill and not just for fun.