Swimming Pool Accident Attorney
Perhaps nothing else transforms fun into tragedy more quickly, or more completely, than a swimming pool injury. Just a few moments at the bottom of the water may cause a lifetime of pain and suffering, both for the victim and the victim’s family. Substantial compensation is available to help these families carry on.
At the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim, our professional team understands the complex nature of swimming pool injury claims in California. So, we quickly evaluate your case, laying out the pros and cons of every possible approach. Then, once we decide on a plan of action together, we diligently execute that plan, fighting for you until we obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
Types of Swimming Pool Injuries
Swimming pool injuries can affect any person at any time. The different kinds of injuries affect different victims in different ways.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children under 4. Even when children get older, their lungs are still underdeveloped. A few seconds underwater may seem like a lifetime. Additionally, many victims, both young and old, often panic when they go beneath the waves. It is possible, and not at all uncommon, for victims to drown in just a few feet of water.
Most people do not associate chemical poisoning with swimming pools, but there is a correlation. Pool cleaning substances, like chlorine, are highly toxic. If the chemical level is just a little too high, some swimmers could experience severe chemical burns to their eyes, ears, noses, and/or throats. These wounds are especially severe if the victim has a pre-existing condition.
On the opposite end of the scale, bacterial infections could be a problem, especially when the water gets very warm. If the cleaning chemical level is slightly too low, bacteria could multiply very quickly. Once again, these infections are particularly severe if the victim had a pre-existing condition.
A word about pre-existing conditions and how they affect your claim for damages. In most cases, they have no effect whatsoever. Generally, tortfeasors (negligent actors) are fully liable for al damages. The eggshell skull rule states that tortfeasors must take victims as they find them. Someone must pay the enormous medical bills and other costs associated with swimming pool injuries, and that someone should never be the victims themselves.
Your Claim for Damages: Ordinary Negligence
Essentially, ordinary negligence is a lack of care. Typically, pool owners have a legal duty to keep people safe when they swim. In California, the nature of this duty depends on several factors, such as:
- Property location,
- Likelihood of injury,
- Probable severity of injury,
- Owner’s knowledge of risk,
- Extent of owner’s control, and
- Burden of preventing harm.
In swimming pool injury cases, most of these factors weigh heavily in favor of the victim/plaintiff. Pool safety and pool maintenance are not difficult or expensive. And, the injury potential is almost staggering. The extent of control might be the only mitigating factor (e.g. the victim drowned at a party in a non-owner-occupied house).
Assuming the owner had a legal duty, negligence is rather easy to establish in California, thanks to the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. For example, if someone discovers a child at the bottom of the pool, the jury may assume that negligence caused the incident, even though there were no witnesses.
Negligent pool injury cases are also difficult to defend. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Furthermore, the only major defense is assumption of the risk. This defense excuses liability if the victim:
- Voluntarily assumed
- A known risk.
Signs like “Swim at Your Own Risk” and “No Lifeguard on Duty” make assumption of the risk easier to prove. But they are not get-out-of-jail-free cards for property owners. The insurance company must still prove that the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant.
Swimming Pool Injuries and Negligence Per Se
In ordinary negligence claims, common law principles, like the neighbor principle (do unto others as you would have them do unto you), establish the standard of care. Sometimes, however, a statute establishes the standard of care. That’s the essence of negligence per se.
Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and other localities usually have rules regarding pool safety equipment. Exact regulations vary by jurisdiction, but typically, these rules include:
- Unclimbable fence or other barrier which completely encloses the pool,
- Self-latching gate with a mechanism which operates from the pool side,
- Alarms on doors or windows which open directly to the pool area, and
- Water purity requirements.
Public and semi-public pools, such as homeowners’ association swimming pools, must follow similar rules. For example, these pools normally must have certain lifesaving equipment within easy reach of the water.
Regulations also apply to drains, pumps, and other pool equipment. If the owner neglects this equipment, serious injury could result. For example, if drains are too strong, dangerous undercurrents could ensnare swimmers. Or, if the pump is not working right, the chlorine could mix with water and create a cloud of poisonous gas.
Damages in a swimming pool injury case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.
A few moments of neglect can cause a serious swimming pool injury. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We routinely handle matters throughout Southern California.
Be sure to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Swimming Pool Accident Attorney from the Law Offices Of Eslamboly Hakim. Call us at 800-LAW-TALK (529-8255) or contact us online.