A fun and relaxing day at the pool can turn tragic in an instant. From a slip and fall on a slippery deck to a drowning, swimming pool accidents can and do happen, resulting in serious, life-threatening injuries and death. A West Palm Beach swimming pool accident lawyer will fight tirelessly for you in the courtroom and at the negotiating table.
Searcy Denney is a full-service Florida personal injury law firm whose attorneys help people injured in swimming pools and other types of accidents get the maximum compensation available under the law. We understand the pain and stress that come with these accidents, both for the person injured and his or her family.
Our West Palm Beach Swimming Pool Accident Attorneys Outline the Potential for Accidents
Swimming pool accidents are more common than you might think, especially in places like Florida where visiting the pool is a popular way to cool down and have fun year-round.
More than 3,500 people die in unintentional drownings across the country each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 80% of drowning victims are male, while nearly 20% – or about one in five – of those people are children ages 14 and younger, the federal agency reports.
Younger children are, particularly at risk. Children ages one to four have the highest drowning rates, with drowning accounting for one-third of all accidental deaths in the age range. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children in this age group than any other cause, except for congenital defects.
For people who survive drowning accidents, the consequences can change their lives forever. Brain damage can cause memory loss, impact speech, and result in a permanent vegetative state for the victims, and according to the CDC, such results are common in non-fatal drowning accidents.
Also, there are various other types of accidents that can happen in or around a pool. For example, slick surfaces pose a potential risk, whether you are walking along the deck, using a ladder to get in or out of the pool, or using a diving board. Defective and malfunctioning drains have also been blamed for serious and fatal injuries, while broken glass and debris and unsafe level of chemicals in the water increase the risk of an accident.
A West Palm Beach swimming pool accident attorney at Searcy Denney will investigate the accident to determine the cause and identify those legally responsible.
Common Causes of Drowning Accidents in Florida and Elsewhere
Swimming pool drowning accidents happen for different reasons that are caused by various factors. The CDC has identified some of the most common factors and notes that combating them generally comes down to supervision, barriers, and being ready in the event of an emergency. Their list includes:
- Inability to swim: Young children are especially at risk because they cannot swim. Older children and adults without formal swim lessons are also more likely than others to be involved in drowning accidents.
- Lack of supervision: It is crucial to have a responsible adult constantly watching children when they play in and around a pool. Public pools should also have adequately trained and alert lifeguards on duty.
- Inadequate barriers: Home pool drownings frequently occur outside of “swim time.” Fences and other barriers help prevent children and others from getting in the pool unnoticed. They should have a deadbolt or other locks that are outside the reach of children. Pool owners should also clear the surrounding area of floats and other toys when the pool is not in use so as not to tempt young children to enter without supervision.
- CPR training: It is imperative to try to get someone who has drowned breathing again as soon as possible. The longer the person goes without oxygen, the more likely he or she is to die or sustain brain damage. Pool owners, users, parents, and caregivers can help in the effort to keep others safe by learning CPR.
- Alcohol: Booze increases the risk of drowning by impacting coordination, balance and judgment.
- Seizures: Drowning is the most common cause of death for people with seizure disorders.
- Signage and warnings: Many pools are equipped with markings and signs to inform users of safety rules, including by showing how deep the pool is and indicating whether it is safe to jump or dive in.
- Life vests: Functional life jackets are a must-have for small children in a pool.
The cause of a particular drowning accident may not be readily apparent in the immediate aftermath of the accident. That is one reason why it is important to consult a seasoned attorney. A West Palm Beach swimming pool accident lawyer at Searcy Denney can gather all of the necessary evidence to determine the cause of the accident.
Signs That Someone May Be Drowning
It is not always easy to spot a drowning swimmer. Although some may flail and yell when in distress, drowning can be a silent killer in other situations.
Roughly one-third of fatal drownings involving children happen within 25 yards of a parent or other adult, according to the CDC. About 10% of those drownings happen with an adult watching, but completely unaware.
People need to be able to breathe in order to scream and yell. People who are drowning often sink below the surface of the water and then reappear. They may not have enough time to breathe and make noise before going back under. They also frequently are unable to control their arms and wave for help.
Secondary Drowning Accidents are Still Eligible for a Swimming Pool Injury Lawsuit
Parents will be frightened to hear that some children do not show the full effects of drowning until long after they have been pulled out of a pool. Fortunately, these are rare occurrences.
Secondary drowning is caused by water in the lungs, often when a child inhales the water while in a pool or another body of water. The swelling that follows can happen several hours and even a day after contact with water. Significant swelling may block the flow of oxygen to the bloodstream, causing serious injury or death.
Parents and others should seek medical attention for children who show signs of secondary drowning after time in the pool: difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, choking, lethargy or trouble staying awake, vomiting and irritability.
Liability for Swimming Pool Accidents in West Palm Beach
A wide range of people and entities may be legally responsible when accidents happen, from other swimmers to pool and equipment manufacturers. Often, however, it is the pool’s owner or operator (and their insurers) who are to blame.
Florida law generally requires property owners to reasonably maintain the premises and warn visitors of hazards that the owner knows about or should know about. Public entities and private companies that own or operate pools are also typically on the hook for any negligence by their employees that cause swimmers and other visitors to be injured.
The situation can be a little more complicated when the accident involves a child who unexpectedly wanders into a pool area. In many of these cases, the property owner is considered to have “constructive knowledge” of this kind of risk and expected to take certain precautions to block access to the pool. In addition, pools, trampolines, swing sets and certain other property features are often deemed an “attractive nuisance,” which increases the owner’s responsibilities when it comes to warning children of dangers.
Some people and families are hesitant to seek compensation from friends or neighbors when a tragic accident happens. It is important to understand that these claims are largely covered by property and other insurance policies. That means the insurer is likely to be forced to pick up the tab for medical expenses and other financial consequences of an accident.
At Searcy Denney, we have significant experience taking on insurance companies to ensure that our clients are properly compensated for their injuries. Each West Palm Beach swimming pool accident attorney at our firm understands the pain and stress that can come with being injured in a pool or other accident, especially when it is through no fault of your own. That is why we work tirelessly to resolve these cases on optimal terms for the people that we represent, whether it is in the courtroom or through a negotiated settlement with an insurance company.
Speak With a West Palm Beach Swimming Pool Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident in Florida, an experienced West Palm Beach swimming pool accident lawyer at Searcy Denney can help you seek the full compensation available under the law.
Our attorneys combine decades of legal experience with a strong track record of successful results for the people that we represent. We are pleased to be able to offer contingency fee arrangements in which we do not get paid unless you win your case.
Our offices are conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Tampa, and Tallahassee. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a West Palm Beach swimming pool attorney today.