Accidental Drowning & Swimming Pool Accidents

Swimming pools are a great source of entertainment and exercise—especially during the summer months—but they can also be the source of serious injuries and fatalities. Swimming pool injuries happen quickly, but the effects of the injury can be devastating and permanent.

On average, there are over 3,500 unintentional drowning deaths every year in the United States, or about 10 deaths every day. 1 in 5 of those deaths occur in children under the age of 14. Many more people end up in the emergency room with serious injuries from asphyxiation (lack of oxygen) or from swimming pool injuries from improper maintenance, supervision, or safety procedures around a pool. In total, close to 80,000 people suffer swimming pool injuries every year.

Owners and operators of swimming pools must follow certain safety standards, and they can be held liable for injuries if they fail to follow those standards.

Swimming Pool Drowning

Accidental drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4, and most of the fatalities occur in residential pools. In Tennessee in 2014, there were 6 child accidental drowning deaths in a pool. 75% of these deaths occurred at a home residence. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), African American children are 5.5 times more likely to drown in a pool than white children of the same age.

A child can drown in less than 2 inches of water. Just a few minutes under the water can cause serious, permanent brain damage. Within 5 to 7 minutes, that damage becomes fatal.

The CDC reports that the top risk factors for drowning are:

  • Poor swimming abilities
  • Failure to wear water wings, life vests, or other inflatable swim supporters
  • Failure to enclose a pool space to keep children out
  • Alcohol consumption while swimming
  • Lack of parental supervision

Swimming pool drownings can also occur from faulty drain covers. Pool drains without covers can create a strong suction that can trap children at the bottom of a pool or spa, sometimes up to 700 pounds of force. Federal law now requires public pools and spas to follow anti-entrapment guidelines for swimming pool drains after a 7-year-old girl drowned at the bottom of a spa when four adult men could not pull her from the powerful drain suction.

Swimming Pool Injuries

The most common swimming pool injuries involve:

  • Slips on wet surfaces
  • Diving injuries from broken diving boards or too shallow diving waters
  • Accidents from broken pool slides or other pool rides or equipment like ladders and drains
  • Rough play in the water that causes injury
  • Overcrowded pool or spa facilities
  • Distracted lifeguards or pool supervisors

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, last year about 8 in 10 pools in the United States violated at least one safety regulation. About 1 in 8 of those violations were so egregious that they caused the immediate closure of the site. About 1 in 5 of the violations were children’s play pools. 13% of all violations involved a lack of proper safety equipment like life rings, rescue poles, and first aid kits.

Most swimming pool injuries involve diving accidents when children dive off of faulty diving boards, dive into shallow waters and hit the bottom, or attempt “trick” dives that cause injury. Diving injuries can leave children with serious and permanent spinal or head injuries from impact with the sides or bottom of the pool.

Pool Injury and Death Lawsuits

Depending on the type of pool involved, owners and operators of swimming pools and spas can be held liable for injuries if they failed to maintain safety standards of their pool, or failed to warn visitors about dangers of the pool. Public pools may be required to have a lifeguard on duty, or to warn visitors about the absence of a lifeguard and post certain safety rules like “no diving”, “occupant capacity”, and “caution” signs.

Public pools and spas in Tennessee are also required to be surrounded by a fence that is at least 4 feet tall, is self-latching and lockable, with bars no further than 4 inches apart to keep children from getting in. Owners of private pools should take the same safety precautions, and can be held liable for injuries of another person’s child if pool owners fail to follow these rules.

Public pools can be the cause of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) that can cause problems like skin rashes, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and ear infections. Chlorine kills most RWI bacteria, though some of these bacteria can live in a properly chlorinated pool for days. Public pools around Memphis are required to post signs warning swimmers with skin eruptions or communicable diseases to stay out of the pool. Swimmers can also suffer chemical burns if a pool operator did not properly chlorinate the pool.

Tennessee Swimming Pool Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a swimming pool accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The law offices of Luvell L. Glanton are dedicated to helping swimming pool accident victims recover damages for the accident, and will help you get the compensation you deserve.

Call our office today at 615-244-4511 to schedule a free consultation.