When the summer heats up, many New Yorkers seek out the cooling relief of a swimming pool. It can also be a nice way to keep kids entertained while parents relax in the sun. However, when children are unsupervised or pool owners do not offer basic safety precautions around their pools, kids can be subject to serious injuries or even drowning. When a loved one is injured or drowns in a pool accident, the property owner may be liable for damages.
If you were injured or a family member drowned in a swimming pool accident, talk to a New York personal injury lawyer from Sullivan & Brill, LLP. Our legal team knows how to protect your rights. We represent injury victims across New York City, including Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island, and Westchester County, as well as in Puerto Rico. Contact us today at (212) 566-1000 for a free consultation.
Pool Accidents and Drownings in New York
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the 5th leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. About 10 people die per day from unintentional drowning. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children 14 and under. However, even nonfatal drowning accidents can cause severe brain damage, memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.
In reality, drowning is not like it appears in the movies. Victims do not thrash about yelling for help. Many drowning victims appear calm before slipping under the water. It may only take a small amount of water in the lungs to cause the airway to close up, then the victim goes unconscious.
Public Pool Accidents and Drownings
Public pools are the only options for most people in New York City and for many people in the surrounding communities who do not have a pool or do not have friends or neighbors with a pool. Parents feel safe taking their kids to a public pool because there are lifeguards on duty who are supposed to be trained in recognizing dangers and providing emergency aid. However, even at public pools, kids can fall victim to accidents.
When the pool does not provide enough lifeguards to safely monitor the pool, the lifeguards are not properly trained, or the lifeguards are distracted from doing their job, it can put swimmers at risk. If the pool management or operators are negligent in pool oversight, they may be responsible for any damages or injuries.
Filing a Claim Against the City or County
Generally, personal injury victims have 3 years from the date of the accident or injury to file a lawsuit for damages. However, claims against a government agency or government employee in New York have an additional restriction. Claims against the city, county agency, or government employee require that a Notice of Claim be filed within 90 days. If the injury victim does not file a notice of claim in time, the government agency may deny the claim. Further, a lawsuit must be filed within 1 year and 90 days of the injury or death.
Property Owner Liability in Pool Accidents
Property owners are responsible for keeping their property in a safe condition for visitors. When property owners have a swimming pool, they may also be required to make sure everyone using the pool has a safe environment and the pool is properly secured when not in use. Pool owners may be liable for accidents on their property where:
- Algae buildup makes a slippery walking surface;
- Cracked tiles or concrete creates a trip hazard;
- There is no one supervising young children swimming;
- Chemical imbalances cause breathing trouble, eye injury, or skin burns;
- Broken ladders or diving boards create a hazard; or
- There is no safety equipment on hand.
Children Trespassing and Swimming Pools
Generally, property owners are not liable for the injuries suffered by trespassers. However, under the legal doctrine of “attractive nuisance,” property owners may be liable for pool-related accidents for child trespassers.
Pools naturally attract the attention of children who may be able to gain access to an unsecured pool. When a child gets into a neighbor's pool when no one is watching, the child can be at risk of drowning or other injuries. Property owners need to take safety precautions to prevent a child from getting into their swimming pool area. Safety measures include covering the pool when not in use and surrounding the area with a high fence with a self-closing and latching gate.
Negligent Supervision in Drowning Accidents
During the summer, many parents leave their children in the care of summer camps, daycare employees, or babysitters. When lifeguards, supervisors, or babysitters are not properly supervising the children, the children are at risk of an injury or accident. When an employee negligently causes an injury or accident, their employer may also be held vicariously liable for the negligence of the employee.
Non-Drowning Pool Accidents
Pools can be dangerous beyond just the risk of drowning. The water often makes for a slippery surface surrounding the pool, and a trip or fall often leads to landing on a hard, concrete surface. Hot tubs can also cause burn injuries for children or skin infections from not being properly clean and sanitized. Non-drowning injuries can include:
- Broken bones,
- Neck injuries,
- Back injuries,
- Cuts and abrasions,
- Burn injuries, or
Wrongful Death and Drownings in New York
When a family member loses a loved one in a pool drowning accident, the negligent parties should be held responsible. A wrongful death lawsuit allows surviving family members to file a claim against the negligent property owners or individuals who were responsible for the accident, to help ensure that other families will not have to suffer the loss of a loved one.
In a New York wrongful death claim, compensation can include:
- Funeral and burial costs,
- Medical costs up until death,
- Income the family would have received prior to the death,
- Pain and suffering,
- Financial support and services that would have been provided, and
- Loss of parental guidance.
Most wrongful death lawsuits have to be filed within 2 years from the date of the accident in New York. Contact your New York personal injury attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your case and help make sure a similar accident does not occur again.
New York Swimming Pool Safety and Drowning Attorneys
Our team at Sullivan & Brill, LLP prepares each case as if we are proceeding to trial. We do a complete examination of the facts, including utilizing skilled outside investigators. Our experienced New York City personal injury attorneys arrive at the negotiating table thoroughly prepared and determined to reach a favorable settlement. If discussions prove ineffective, we are fully equipped to fervently litigate on our client's behalf. Contact us today for a free case evaluation online or call us at (212) 566-1000.