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.