Swimming Pool Accidents In Miami
When the South Florida temperatures rise, swimming pools are the best places to cool down. From swimming pools in luxury hotels to public pools, there is no shortage of amazing swimming pools in Miami.
Swimming pools often become the sites of serious injury-causing accidents when proper safety measures are ignored. Swimming pool owners and operators have a legal obligation to make sure that their pools and surrounding areas are free from harm and in a reasonably safe condition for customers, visitors and guests.
Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid. Not all drownings are fatal. Fatal drowning happens when the drowning results in death. Nonfatal drowning happens when a person survives a drowning incident with a range of outcomes, from no injuries to very serious injuries or permanent disability.
Important facts and statistics on swimming pool accidents in Florida and across the nation:
- Drowning is the leading cause of death among children.
- More children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause except birth defects.
- For children ages 1 to 14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury and death, after motor vehicle accidents.
- Seventy-four percent of drowning accidents occur at residential locations.
- There are 11 drowning deaths in the country per day, out of which six drown in swimming pools.
- There is an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day in the country.
- Nonfatal drowning can result in long-term health problems, including brain damage, and costly hospital stays.
- Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male. Reasons for this startling statistic are increased exposure to water, risk-taking behavior and alcohol use.
- According to Florida Department of Health statistics, there were 1,054 drownings in the state in 2019. Children made up 205 of these.
- According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths of children ages 1 to 4.
- There are approximately 1.2 million backyard and public swimming pools in Florida.
- Over 90% of Florida home swimming pools were built prior to the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act of 2000.
- From March to April 2021, the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital saw a 600% rise in incidents of drowning involving children when compared with the same time last year.
- In the pediatric population, swimming skills are acquired by only half of the children by the time they graduate. Sixty-five percent of white children learn to swim, while only 40% of Black and Hispanic children can swim by the time they graduate.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident in Miami due to the careless or negligent act of someone else, then an experienced Miami swimming pool accident lawyer can guide and assist you in recovering compensation for the injuries suffered and the pain and anguish that you have had to endure.
Proving Liability In A Miami Swimming Pool Accident
Liability for swimming pool accidents depends on the status of the drowning victim. Pool owners in Florida – both private and public pool owners – can be held liable when visitors, patrons or swimmers are injured. Owners of public pools have the added responsibility of complying with state and federal regulations to keep their pools safe and equipped with the latest safety devices.
Under premises liability law, there are three types of entrants who are owed varying duties of care by the swimming pool owners. These are:
Florida’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Florida law considers children too young to understand the risks and consequences of drowning. Florida law holds property owners accountable for maintaining an “attractive nuisance.” An attractive nuisance is any object or property that makes children curious and attracts them to that object or property. Swimming pools are a prime example of attractive nuisances.
In Florida, the swimming pool owner will allege that the victim should bear some amount of responsibility for the swimming pool accident. Florida has a “pure comparative negligence” rule. Under this rule, any damages awarded to a plaintiff will be reduced according to the percentage of his or her fault in the accident.
Proof of plaintiff negligence will not bar a claim entirely, but it could reduce the amount of overall compensation awarded. It is the burden of the defendant to prove comparative negligence. The swimming pool owner must prove that the plaintiff did not demonstrate reasonable care and that he or she was responsible for injuries sustained.
Who Can Be Held Liable For A Swimming Pool Accident?
Apart from the owner of the pool, various other persons and entities can be held accountable for a swimming pool accident. Major factors that help determine liability include whether the injured party was a trespasser or an invited guest, whether the pool was public or private, and what caused the injury.
Persons who can be held liable for a swimming pool accident include:
- Owner of the pool
- Pool manager or operator
- Pool maintenance company
- Pool equipment company
- Pool construction company
- Government agency
- Any individual (for being reckless or for preventing a lifeguard from fulfilling his or her duty)
Leading Causes Of Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pool accidents result in devastating injuries and even death. Some of the reasons for these accidents include those below.
Lack Of Supervision
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that drowning can occur in just five minutes if a child is left unsupervised in the vicinity of a pool. Lack of supervision is by far the leading cause of swimming pool accidents. When there is no lifeguard on duty or the lifeguard is not properly trained, the chances of accidents increase drastically.
Some major factors that contribute to slip-and-falls in and around swimming pools are:
- Wet or waxed floors around the swimming pool
- Inadequate lighting around the swimming pool
- Warning signs not posted in known dangerous areas
- Loose steps, ladders and handrails in the swimming pool
Consumption of alcohol in and around a swimming pool can lead to impaired judgment and lack of coordination. According to the CDC, alcohol is responsible for 70% of water-related recreation deaths.
Lack Of Fencing Around The Swimming Pool
Owners are duty-bound to install proper fencing around the entire swimming pool area. Fences reduce the risk of swimming pool accidents substantially. A four-sided fence with self-closing or self-latching gates can prevent children from getting close to the pool.
Defective equipment or parts can cause sudden and serious accidents resulting in severe injuries. Pools need to be regularly inspected to ensure that all equipment is functioning properly.
Under federal law, all pools are required to be installed with anti-entrapment devices, which prevent a swimmer’s clothing, hair or limbs from getting tangled or caught in a drain.
Some other reasons for swimming pool accidents include overcrowding in pools, lack of ability to swim, failure to wear life jackets, etc.
We Have Successfully Represented Victims Of Swimming Pool Accidents In Miami
At Kaire & Heffernan, PLLC, we are accomplished trial lawyers with an enviable record of success. We have represented thousands of Miami residents, winning millions of dollars in compensation through settlements and jury awards.
We will discuss the particulars of your or your loved one’s swimming pool accident during your free case evaluation to ensure that all your questions are answered and all issues are explored. After you retain our firm, we will:
- Walk you through the process
- Help you keep track of the paperwork, ensuring that everything is filed on time; the Florida statute of limitations for filing a swimming pool injury lawsuit is four years after the accident, but we advise clients to file it as early as possible
- Discuss your case with the insurance adjuster and opposing lawyer
- Interview witnesses and, if necessary, retain the services of independent experts who will help re-create the accident and establish liability.
- Help you recover:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Damages suffered due to pain and suffering
- Damages suffered due to emotional distress
- Costs of future corrective surgeries
- Damages for loss of enjoyment of life and breakdown of personal relationships
Contact A Miami Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a swimming pool accident due to the carelessness, recklessness or negligence of another person, then you deserve to be duly compensated for the injuries suffered.