In Florida, many houses have their own swimming pools. Since so many houses have pools, the likelihood of water accidents goes up by a dramatic amount. Having a pool, unfortunately, means that there are additional responsibilities for homeowners, and there are laws by which they need to abide. Read on to learn more about these statutes and regulations and what you may be entitled to if you are injured in a swimming pool accident.
Swimming Pool Injuries and Fatality Statistics
Firstly, let’s discuss the data regarding swimming pool injuries and fatalities. Among children aged 1-4, drowning remains a major cause of death, varying among the top 5 depending on where you are located in the world. In fact, three children lose their lives every single day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even if deaths don’t occur, then near-drowning incidents can end up causing injuries that are life-altering. Parents often say, “I only looked away for a minute!” And it’s probably true. It can take less than five minutes for a drowning accident to occur.
Many swimming pool accidents occur due to reckless or negligent behavior. Sometimes it’s simply due to the fact that the supervisor wasn’t paying enough attention. These accidents can occur at any type of pool- a hotel pool, a water park, a pool on a cruise ship, or at private home pools at a friend’s house. Either way, the case would be a traditional negligence suit in which you will need to prove the following:
- The plaintiff (injured party) needs to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care
- The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant breached that duty
- The breach needs to be the proximate (aka legal) cause of the injury
- There has to be damages
Homeowners and pool owners may be held liable due to the fact that the pools are their responsibility. Florida property owners need to maintain their premises in reasonably safe conditions and to warn of any known dangers. If they are unable to this and it ends up causing injuries, then they may be held liable for the resulting harm incurred.
There is a law in Florida called the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA), under which a property owner is able to be held negligent if they fail to protect frail adults and children with at least one pool safety feature. Injured plaintiffs will only need to prove negligence per se, which means that injuries were the result of the homeowner’s negligence. They don’t have to prove that the homeowner had a duty and breached it, but only have to demonstrate the results. Some of these results may be filed under the doctrine of “attractive nuisance.” The idea behind this doctrine constitutes that children are unable to comprehend the same dangers as adults can. They may look at fire and think, “Oooh, I want to touch it.” Since pools appear fun and interesting, extra measures need to be put in place to deter children from finding their own way in. Pool owners under the RSPSA have to take active steps in order to cordon off their pools. This means that at the very least, all residential pools, spas, and hot tubs have to have one or more of the following:
- Pool cover
- Four-foot barrier around the entire pool
- Pool entrance with self-closing and self-locking mechanism
- Alarm for all doors and windows with direct access to pool area
If you or somebody you love has been involved in an accident with a swimming pool, you may require legal counsel. Call Olsen Law Firm today for a free initial consultation.