It's hard to think of a Florida house without a swimming pool.
Because so many houses have pools, the likelihood of water accidents rises dramatically. Having a pool unfortunately means additional responsibilities for homeowners, and there are laws by which they must abide. This article is a broad overview of those statutes and regulations, and it also examines the accompanying data.
Drowning is still a leading cause of death for children aged 1-4, varying among the top 5 depending on where you are in the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that three children lose their lives every day, and even if deaths don't occur, near-drowning incidents result in life-altering injuries.
Parents always say, "I only looked away for a minute!" And that's true. It takes fewer than five minutes for a drowning accident to happen.
Many pool accidents happen because of reckless or negligent behavior. Sometimes it's just because the supervisor wasn't paying attention.
This can happen at any type of pool – a hotel pool, water park, a pool atop a cruise ship, private home pool or a friend's house.
Either way, the case would be a traditional negligence suit in which you need to prove the following:
Homeowners and pool owners can be held liable because the pools are their responsibility.
Florida property owners are required to maintain their premises in reasonably safe conditions and to warn of any known dangers. If they fail to do that and it results in injuries, they can be held liable for that resulting harm.
Florida has a law called the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA), under which a property owner can be held negligent for failing to protect frail adults and children with at least one pool safety feature.
Injured plaintiffs will only have to prove negligence per se, meaning that the homeowner's negligence caused injuries – not that he or she had a duty and breached it. The plaintiff just has to show the results.
Some of these results can be included under the doctrine of "attractive nuisance."
The idea behind this is that children can't comprehend the same dangers as adults. They look at fire and think, "Oooooh, that's pretty." Because pools look fun and interesting, extra measures should be put in place to deter children from finding their way in.
Under the RSPSA, pool owners need to take active steps to cordon off their pools. This means that at the very least, all residential pools, spas and hot tubs must have one or more of the following:
Near-drowning accidents can result in horrific accidents.
Submersion injuries cause oxygen starvation to the brain. They can occur 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. Other injuries happen when children become trapped in drains and suffer injuries to the bowels or other systems, which leave them with lifelong injuries.
Diving into shallow water also can result in traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries. 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 suffer, ranging from the ability to breathe, to partial or complete paralysis.
Drowning-related disabilities are life-changing, in more ways than one. Medical costs for a patient of this caliber can reach up to $180,000 per year for long-term care. If there is brain damage, costs can reach $4.5 million over that patient's lifetime.
If an individual has been injured while swimming on another person's property, he or she has four years from the date of the accident to bring a case. However, if that person dies because of those injuries, then his or her estate only has two years to bring the claim. You will want to speak with an attorney as soon as possible in order to preserve your claim.
Here are some tips for safer swimming:
Here are some of the best organizations that are dedicated to teaching better swimming techniques and offering educational resources:
We hope these resources allow you to own a pool or swim without worry. In the meantime, if you need to speak with an attorney, try the Enjuris Florida law firm directory.