accidents in the swimming pool

Pool Safety & Children – Who is responsible when accidents happen in the pool?

It has been a hot summer so far in Alabama, and there’s still a lot of warm weather left in the season. That probably means that you and your children spend a fair amount of time at both public and private swimming pools. While you have taught your children how to swim and other safety rules, accidents can still happen. Should this ever happen to your family, it’s important to understand who has liability.

Swimming Pools and Alabama’s Premises Liability Laws

The premises liability portion of Alabama’s personal injury law states that swimming pool owners have the legal obligation to keep them safe. This includes such actions as putting a fence around the pool and a lock on the fence to keep uninvited neighborhood children from accessing it. The law recognizes that children don’t have the same ability as adults to perceive danger and that seeing an open swimming pool would appeal to their natural sense of curiosity. All neighborhood swimming pools fall under the legal category of attractive nuisance for this reason.

In addition to securing the outer parameter of the pool, owners must ensure that the pool itself is safe. For example, drain covers must meet federal safety regulations to ensure that a child doesn’t become seriously injured by sitting on one or even walking by it. This law came about after several children died due to the suctioning power of a swimming pool drain that didn’t have proper covering.

Pool owners should also remove tripping hazards from walkways to avoid a slip and fall injury. It is important that they realize that not every swimming pool accident happens in the water. Owners of public facilities must meet specific fencing requirements as well as have the following signage available:

  • Opening and closing time of the pool
  • A warning during the hours that no lifeguard is on duty
  • A warning that children should not use the pool unless supervised by an adult

Pool owners who don’t abide by these regulations may be liable for injuries sustained by visitors to their property.

Tips to Keep Your Children Safe in the Swimming Pool

One of the most important things you can do to ensure your children remain safe at the pool is to always supervise them around water. Plan to hold very young children in the water and to be within an arm’s length of preschool aged children for the duration of your stay. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that one adult assume the responsibility of designated Water Watcher. That means that he or she agrees to only watch the children in the swimming pool and not use a smartphone, listen to music, read, or engage in any other type of distraction.

Never rely on a lifeguard to watch your child as there’s no substitute for one-on-one supervision. A single lifeguard could have the responsibility for looking after hundreds of swimmers and not notice a problem right away. Some lifeguards and swimming pool owners who hire them are negligent as well. Perhaps the lifeguard saw it as an easy summer job and doesn’t take the responsibility as seriously as he or she should.

All children should have swimming lessons before they spend time in the water without an adult right next to them. Many pools and community organizations such as the YMCA offer formal swimming lessons for kids of all ages. Even babies can take lessons with their parents to help them get comfortable with the feeling of being in the water.

We also recommend that you learn CPR to enable you to jump into immediate action in an emergency. Even if you never have to use CPR on your own child, knowing this skill could save a life. Lastly, never consume alcohol when you’re supervising children in or near a swimming pool or going for a swim yourself.

Help for Families of Swimming Pool Accidents

Burge & Burge, PC is a personal injury law firm that can help you file suit against the negligent party that caused your child’s swimming pool accident. We offer free case reviews to determine the likelihood of proving negligence and winning your case. Please contact us at our Birmingham, Alabama law office at 205-251-9000. You can also reach us toll-free at 800-633-3733 to reserve a time for your consultation.

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