Swimming Pool and Drowning Accidents in Washington, D.C.
Swimming is fun and family friendly, but it’s also high-risk, especially for children. Whether you’re in a hotel or public pool, a water park, or a pool in your neighbor’s backyard, drowning and catastrophic injuries are a realistic risk of the experience. National Safety Council statistics show swimming incidents cause hundreds of deaths each year. Diving, water slide, and pool slide incidents cause serious and catastrophic injuries as well.
CDC Safechild documents high drowning death rates among children ages one to 14. It further cites drowning as the number one cause for accidental deaths among one- to four-year-olds. The National Spinal Cord Injury Data Center’s 2017 Report acknowledges diving accidents as the fifth leading cause of spinal injuries for men and the fourth leading cause for women. When these tragic pool-related injuries occur, they’re often caused by a pool owner’s inadequate safeguards, warnings, and poor pool maintenance.
At the Abelson Law Firm, we believe that property owners should pay when their errors or omissions cause a pool injury or drowning fatality. Our legal team understands the liability issues. We have the experience, dedication, and resources necessary to fight for our clients’ legal rights. We work hard to produce the best possible results for our clients.
Our Law Firm’s Case Results
The Abelson Law Firm has resolved many cases through negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. When necessary, we’ve taken our clients’ cases to a judge or jury for final disposition. Each case is unique. We can’t guarantee specific results, but we promise to put our firm’s experience and resources into generating the best possible outcome for our clients. We share our results to demonstrate our successful record. We’ve won many multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, but out of respect for our clients, we keep the financial details confidential.
What Are Common Pool and Drowning Accidents?
Drowning is high on the National Safety Council’s list of preventable injuries. Commercial property owners, amusement parks, and private owners are ultimately responsible for failing to remedy these and other pool issues. Examples include:
- Poor security – Gates, alarms, lights
- No pool cover
- Poorly maintained pools
- Faulty drains and circulation system
- Failure to establish or enforce safety rules
- Inadequate swimming pool safety features and hazard warnings
- Hazardous diving boards and pool slides
- Poorly maintained and cleaned floors
- No trained lifeguards on duty
What Are Potential Pool and Drowning Injuries?
When a pool accident occurs, drowning is a frequent outcome. Emergency intervention prevents drowning deaths, but near-drowning victims also suffer due to water aspiration and oxygen deprivation. Pool, diving, water slide, and pool slide events cause these and other injuries:
- Pneumonia and respiratory issues caused by near-drowning
- Anoxic brain damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal injuries and paralysis
- Permanent vegetative condition
- Chemical burns
- Bacterial infections
- Wrongful death
Who Can Be at Fault?
Drowning is on the National Safety Council’s list of preventable injuries, yet the casualty rates are high. Property owners are ultimately responsible for inadequate pool safeguards and warnings.
- Pools: Pool water attracts children whether or not it’s intended for their use. They require adequate fencing, covers, and alarms to prevent access. Negligent owners allow horseplay or alcohol consumption around their pool, or they supply alcoholic beverages to swimming guests. Owners must also post water height warnings to minimize the risk of head and spine injuries.
- Pool slides: Owners are responsible for pool slide hazards. They are such a shallow-water hazard insurance companies often exclude them from liability coverage. Victims hit their heads and necks on hard surfaces, causing serious injuries.
- Diving boards: Fewer residential pools have diving boards due to known safety issues and higher insurance rates. Private and commercial property owners who retain diving boards are responsible for the hazards.
- Sports: Sports organizers who train children or run youthful sporting events share liability for childhood water sports injuries that occur each year.
- Manufacturers: A manufacturer is liable when a negligently manufactured, designed, or marketed pool or equipment causes injuries.
- Maintenance: Owners or their maintenance contractors are responsible for maintaining a safe pool. This includes chemical use and sanitation, or drains and water circulation devices that may entrap a swimmer’s hair and contribute to drowning.
What Kind of Damages Might a Pool and Drowning Accident Victim Recover?
Settlements for an injured person or an injured minor’s family include economic damages and general damages. A court only awards punitive damages when the evidence confirms a property owner acted out of malice, willful disregard of the injured person’s rights, or committed other egregious acts.
Economic damages are calculated based on actual costs incurred and calculable future expenses:
- Lost earnings
- Reduced earning capacity
- Physician and hospital bills
- Physical therapy
- Prosthetics and mobility accessories
- Medical transportation
- Personal care and household services
General damages are based on an evaluation of how injuries affect a person’s life. A general damage claim includes these and other considerations:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anxiety
- Change in spousal relationship
- Loss of functions
- Scars and disfigurement
- Permanent disabilities
A decedent survivor’s settlement often includes economic damages, pain and suffering from the injury until death, and considerations for economic support, loss of love and companionship, and other factors.
How Do Those Who Are Liable Try to Avoid Paying Their Fair Share?
Persons invited to use a property owner’s pool have a right to expect a hazard-free environment. As young children are naturally attracted to a pool, owners often have attractive nuisance liability whether or not a child has permission. Property owners and their insurance companies often refuse to settle. They defend pool-cases in court, relying on contributory negligence and other affirmative defenses.
- Contributory negligence: If a property owner proves that an injured person was negligent in contributing to his or her own injuries, their negligence may be a bar to recovery. Owners and insurance companies who want to settle use contributory negligence as a negotiation tool.
- No negligence: The pool owner tries to pay nothing by proving they weren’t negligent.
- Plaintiff is a trespasser: If a pool owner proves the plaintiff was trespassing, the owner may owe nothing. A property owner’s duties to a trespasser require only that they don’t act out of malice or wanton recklessness.
- Injury dispute: A pool-owner often tries to reduce the damages by disputing the injury severity or denying that the incident happened in their pool.
- No defect: A manufacturer defends their product using a no defect defense.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
At The Abelson Law Firm, we meet with you during an initial free consultation. We listen to your story to determine if we can help you. We handle swimming pool and drowning accident cases on a contingency fee basis: that means we don’t charge our clients fees for representation until we resolve their case through a settlement or judgment.
You Deserve Just Compensation
If you were seriously injured, or a family member drowned or was injured in someone else’s pool, we want to help you. Call us at (202) 331-0600 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation with Michael A. Abelson. For more than 40 years, Michael A. Abelson of the Abelson Law Firm has worked tirelessly on behalf of clients in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. We want to help you.