Who Is Liable for Accidents at a Pool in Burlington?
As enjoyable as it is to spend time at a swimming pool, the pool and the deck around it carry various dangers. Some of these dangers are well known, while others are hidden.
Besides the ever-present risk of drowning, there are many other injuries you can suffer on a fun “day at the pool.” How can you protect yourself? Is someone else responsible for unforeseen injuries? Can you get monetary compensation for your medical bills? The best way to know is to speak to a lawyer, such as the Burlington premises liability attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C. But here is some general information about the hows, whys, and whats of swimming pool injuries.
What Causes Pool Accidents?
Even if you do not set foot in the water, there are plenty of risks on and around the pool. These include:
- Slippery decks, ladders, and stairs
- Unsafe pool toys
- Toys left in walking areas
- Electrical defects, which can cause electrocution
- Poor chemical control of the water
- Powerful drains
- Rough play from other pool-goers
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What Makes Drowning More Likely?
Most accidental drowning victims are children. In 2014, one-third of children who died of accidental causes died from drowning. There are additional factors that can compound the risk of drowning, such as:
- Lack of swimming ability (over 50% of Americans don’t know how to swim)
- Lack of barriers around the pool
- Lack of supervision of children around the pool
- Alcohol use
- Seizure disorders
- Crowded conditions
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Potential Injuries In and Around the Pool
Here’s what can happen in Burlington pool accidents:
- Head, neck, or spinal cord injuries, from falling and striking the pool deck.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can be a result of diving into a pool or falling.
- Evisceration caused by sitting on a pool drain.
- Other suction injuries caused by limbs, hairs, or jewelry caught in pool drainage openings.
- Broken bones or torn ligaments from horseplay.
- Serious lacerations from pool equipment like diving boards.
- Respiratory distress from water in the lungs.
- Allergic reactions (many pool decks are open and attract bees).
- Diseases caused or spread by contaminated pool water.
Any bodily trauma can also leave the injured person stunned or trapped long enough to result in drowning, if close enough to the water.
Visitor Liability in Pool Accidents
To determine liability in a pool injury or death case, both the visitor’s and the property owner’s behavior need to be examined. The type of visitor also has an effect on liability. There are three types of “visitors”:
- Invitees are explicitly invited by the owner onto the property; for example, guests, customers to a store, or contractors hired to fix something. They are given the most legal protection.
- Licensees enter the property for their own purposes without explicit invitation from the property owner, such as a plus-one party guest, a meter-reader, or a door-to-door salesperson. They are given legal protection.
- Trespassers are not authorized to be on the property at all. They have little legal protection. However, when it comes to pools, child trespassers are treated differently and the burden of “keeping them out of the pool area” falls to the pool’s owner or manager.
Visitors do have a responsibility for their own behavior wherever they go, and the pool is no exception. If a visitor is running around on a wet surface, climbing over pool fences, or diving into the pool where a “No Diving” sign is clearly displayed, that visitor is at least partially responsible for his or her injuries. In a Massachusetts court, this may result in reduced compensation relative to how negligent the visitor was in his or her behavior.
Pool Owner Liability
The pool owner also shares a burden of responsibility. Much like slip-and-fall cases, the owner may be held liable for injuries if he or she did not keep up with pool maintenance and repairs, or did not have a barrier to prevent children from wandering in. The owner is also responsible for warning visitors of any dangers on the property, such as leaks or slippery surfaces.
If a pool-goer dies from drowning or other injuries, and it can be proven that the pool owner was negligent in exercising reasonable care, that’s grounds for a wrongful death claim. Same thing with child trespassers – the responsibility is on the owner to prevent these tragedies from happening by adhering to state rules about fences, barriers, and pool security.
If You Were Injured at the Pool, Call Us
If you or someone you love has been injured while at a private or public pool, please call our Burlington personal injury attorneys here at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., for a free consultation at (781) 262-3338. We know these cases and may be able to help you take the next step forward.