Seeking Compensation for a Florida Swimming Pool Injury
Swimming pool season is here and backyards across the state are filled with splashing kids, sunbathing teens and relaxing adults. Backyard pools are a staple of Florida real estate, but many residential pool owners underestimate the risk of liability when opening up their pools to others. Failure to take proper steps to protect the swimmers who visit their pools can result in substantial civil liability for injuries.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately ten unintentional drowning deaths occur each day in the United States;
- Drowning is fifth among the leading causes of unintentional deaths;
- About 1/5 of all drowning victims are children under the age of 14-years-old;
- For every one child who dies, five more visit emergency rooms for drowning-related injuries; and
- Children between the ages of one and four make up the highest level of drowning rates.
Contributing Factors to Drowning Risks
- Inability to swim is a major contribution. According to the CDC, swimming lessons considerably decrease the risk level of drowning among children between the ages of one and four.
- Lack of adequate supervision is another major risk factor. Even when adults and lifeguards are present at the pool, drowning can happen quickly.
- Barriers significantly reduce drowning risks, by keeping young children out of unattended pools.
- Alcohol use among adolescents and adults account for about 70% of water-recreation deaths.
Florida Statutes to Prevent Drowning
These statistics exemplify the high level of risk involved in swimming pool ownership. The state of Florida addressed these risks by enacting the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. Drowning is the leading cause of death among young children within the state. It is also significantly responsible for deaths among the elderly. In consideration of these facts, the legislature encourages adequate supervision of swimming pool activities through mandatory safety regulations. Under the Safety Act, pools built on or after October 1, 2000 must have the following safety features:
- A four foot barrier is required, built to adequately prevent children from climbing over or under;
- A safety approved pool cover is mandatory under the statute;
- Exit alarms must be installed on all windows and doors with direct access to the pool; and
- All doors with pool access are required to have safety latching devices.
Failure of a homeowner to follow these mandates can result in criminal sanctions, but worse, this negligence can lead to injury or death of swimmers in the pool. When incidents occur, the injured party may file an insurance claim against the homeowner for compensation. However, if the homeowner did not take proper precautions to ensure the safety of the pool, the insurance company may refuse to pay the claim. Under this situation, the injured party would need the courts to determine liability and order an appropriate compensation amount.
If you or your child has been injured in a swimming pool related incident, call Miami based Pita & Del Prado at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation. Put the skills of experienced trial lawyers to work for you.