Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States
and the leading cause of death resulting from injury for children between
the ages of one and four years old. A significant number of drowning fatalities
among children between the ages of one and four are caused by submersion
injuries which occur in swimming pools. In addition to causing death,
swimming pool drowning accidents can cause serious injuries, including
brain damage which can lead to long term disabilities such as memory problems
and learning disabilities.
Swimming pool owners can take steps to make their premises safe and to
prevent drowning accidents. These steps include:
Securing Access to the Pool Area: Enclosing a pool with four sided fencing which separates the pool area
from other parts of the yard and home can reduce swimming pool drowning
among toddlers by 50 percent. Fencing should be high enough to prevent
children from being able to climb over it. The Centers for Disease Control
recommends fencing that is at least four feet high. They also suggest
outward facing self-closing and self-latching gates which are placed out
of reach of children. Alarm systems can also be used to alert owners when
children and others have gained access to the pool area.
Ensuring Appropriate Supervision: Adequate supervision is a key factor in preventing swimming pool drowning
accidents among children. According to a study conducted by the Consumer
Product Safety Commission, most swimming pool drowning accidents among
children occur while they are in the care of both parents and out of sight
for less than five minutes. Children should be supervised by an adult
while swimming. The adult charged with supervising children while they
are in and around the pool should be free from other distractions such
as, reading, texting, or doing yard work.
Pool owners who fail to keep their premises safe may be held liable for
negligence if an accident occurs on their property.
Swimming pool owners may be held liable for
negligence if they fail to maintain adequate safeguards and someone is either injured
or killed as a result. The duty of care which a swimming pool owner owes
to individuals using their facility varies depending on the circumstances
which brought them to the property.
Generally, property owners have only a minimal duty to avoid “willfully
or wantonly” injuring a trespasser. However, Georgia law places
a heightened duty of care on owners of property which may be “inherently
alluring”. In some cases, a premises which includes a pool may qualify
for this heightened duty of care. In addition, property owners have a
duty to warn guests of known but hidden dangers. The highest duty of care
is owed to individuals who visit the property for business purposes. Premise
owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for these individuals.
If you or a loved one has been injured, or if your loved one has been killed
as a result of a swimming pool drowning accident, you should contact an
attorneyimmediately to determine whether negligence was involved.