Swimming Pool Accident Lawyers
Homeowners, swim clubs, hotels and water parks in North Carolina have specific legal responsibilities to provide for the safety of pool users and prevent unauthorized access to their pools. Swimming pool accidents can lead to serious injuries and fatal injuries, especially among children. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of death for children up to age 14.
If a pool owner fails to comply with state or local pool safety regulations and an accident occurred as a result, the pool owner may be held legally liable for the injuries. While not all pool accidents require a lawyer, a serious injury may raise complicated issues regarding premises liability. It is important to talk to a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law has built a reputation as a highly respected North Carolina law firm by providing attentive personalized service and proven legal guidance to North Carolina families. We have more than 30 years of experience handling injury cases, including swimming pool accident injuries. Our personal injury attorneys and staff understand the stress that a serious injury can cause a family. If your swimming pool injury case is the type that we handle, we will represent you on a contingency fee basis. You will not have any out-of-pocket expenses and will not owe a legal fee unless we obtain compensation for you through an insurance settlement or jury award. Our goal is to help you obtain the compensation to rebuild your life and move forward after a serious accident.
Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents
The most common causes of swimming pool injuries are:
- slip and fall accidents
- drownings and near drownings
- drain suction entrapment incidents
- diving incidents.
Any of these incidents can lead to a serious injury or fatal injury in a swimming pool accident. A diving accident can cause spinal fractures, causing loss of function and requiring long-term assistance.
Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among children in this age group, most drowning incidents involve home swimming pools.
Children should not be allowed in wading pools if the drain cover is broken or missing, to avoid suction hazards.
Who is Liable for My Injuries?
A pool owner may be liable if a swimmer or visitor to a pool is injured due to the property owner’s disregard for safety or failure to maintain the pool in a reasonably safe and sanitary condition. However, pool owners are not responsible for every injury that occurs.
Pool equipment such as diving boards, pool drains, and ladders must be maintained in reasonable repair and warnings posted if the equipment is broken.
The manufacturer of a pool drain may be liable if an injury occurs due to a malfunctioning or defective pool drain that has excessive suction. Broken or missing drain covers should be immediately replaced.
Many swimming pool accidents have obvious causes. But some pool accidents require a detailed investigation by a knowledgeable attorney to identify the underlying safety issue that led to the injury. Hardison & Cochran has the resources to hire investigators to determine the cause of an accident and who should be held liable.
The insurance company of the party that is to blame for a pool accident typically pays any compensation awarded after a pool injury.
Swimming Pool Owner Responsibilities
Both public pool owners, including hotels, and residential pool owners in North Carolina have certain obligations regarding the maintenance and safety of their pools. Pools must be built to certain design specifications.
Public pools in North Carolina are subject to annual inspections by state environmental health specialists for compliance with water quality and safety standards and identification of any imminent hazards such as a broken pool drain that can create a suction hazard. Proper lighting is required so that all areas of the pool are clearly visible.
Swimming pools are required to have life-saving equipment readily on hand at all times including a 12-foot long body hook and a throwing rope attached to an approved ring buoy.
Pools that do not have lifeguards on duty shall post warning signs with letters at least four inches tall stating: Warning: No Lifeguard on Duty and Children Should Not Use the Swimming Pool Without Adult Supervision. Wading pools that do not have a lifeguard also are required to have posted signs that no lifeguard is on duty.
Public and residential pool owners must take certain steps to prevent children from gaining access to the pool without permission. Young children are naturally attracted to water. Fences and gates surrounding private pools are critical.
The North Carolina Code requires that all private residential pools including in-ground pools, on-ground pools, and above ground pools must be protected by a fence, wall or enclosure at least four feet in height that surrounds the pool. The regulations apply to pools that are more than 24 inches deep. All gates leading to the pool shall have a self-latching mechanism. When the wall of a house serves as part of the barrier, all doors accessing the pool area shall have alarms, or the pool shall be equipped with a powered safety cover.
Public pools must have depth markings on the vertical wall of the pool and the edge of the pool deck. Areas where the pool is less than five feet in depth, must have signs warning “No Diving.”
Public pools without a lifeguard should have a warning sign that no lifeguard is on duty.
Most drownings of young children occur in home pools due to unsupervised water access and lack of swimming ability. When homeowners fail to provide adequate barriers or fencing or neglect to repair broken gates or latches, they may be liable for injuries or deaths that result.
A pool owner’s failure to comply with pool safety regulations and requirements for fencing, warning signs or other safety features may represent negligence on the part of the pool owner and be the basis for a personal injury claim after a serious accident.
Compensation for Swimming Pool Accidents
If you are eligible to file a pool accident injury claim, you may seek to recover both the economic and non-economic damages. What does that mean exactly? In most pool accident cases, you turn to the homeowner’s insurance or general liability insurance of the at-fault pool owner to seek compensation.
The types of expenses that may be recovered include:
- Present and future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of care and companionship of a loved
Many variables affect the amount of compensation that you may recover in a pool accident case, including the severity of the injuries and insurance policies available to cover your losses. Some disabling injuries require ongoing medical care and living assistance and so compensation for future medical care is crucial as part of a settlement.
Having an experienced Raleigh pool injury attorney representing you in the claims process and negotiating with the insurer on your behalf can make all the difference in the terms of a settlement.
Statute of Limitations in North Carolina
It is important to contact an attorney to review your swimming pool case right away because you only have a limited amount of time to bring a lawsuit after an accident.
The amount of time that you have to file a personal injury claim in North Carolina after a swimming pool accident is generally three years from the date of the accident. This is known as the statute of limitations. In certain situations, more time may be allowed. An attorney can determine how the statute of limitations applies to your case.
After a fatal swimming pool drowning accident, the family of the victim or a representative of the person’s estate has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Because of the amount of time required to investigate the accident and prepare a lawsuit, it is important to reach out to a knowledgeable swimming pool injury attorney as soon as possible. A safety hazard may be repaired, and all evidence of the hazard lost if an attorney is not contacted to investigate the accident promptly.
Contact a Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer in Raleigh, NC
If you or your loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident in Wake County or anywhere in North Carolina due to another’s negligence, a Raleigh swimming pool lawyer at Hardison & Cochran is ready to assist you. Our compassionate attorneys can review the details of your pool accident and evaluate whether you have a swimming pool injury claim.
Take a look at the reviews of our legal representation shared by former clients, then give us a call to find out how we can assist you. Hardison & Cochran has offices in Raleigh, Durham, Dunn, Wilmington and Southern Pines.