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Insurance Companies Don't Play Fair. Don't Do This Alone.

NYC Swimming Pool Accidents Lawyers

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There have been too many times when a family’s afternoon of relaxing at a swimming pool or at the beach have turned into a tragedy by an accidental drowning. When such an invent strikes, it is often best to involve a swimming pool drowning accident lawyer to insure that the facts surrounding these deaths are discovered.

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As of 2012, there were over 7,500 public swimming pools and 1,300 public bathing beaches operated by various municipalities and agencies in New York State, not including those operated by Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation or the Department of Environmental Conservation.

In New York, a “swimming pool” is any “structure, basin, chamber or tank which is intended for swimming, diving, recreational bathing or wading and which contains, is designed to contain, or is capable of containing water more than 24 inches (610 mm) deep at any point …”

The State of New York’s regulations for swimming pools are found in the State Fire Prevention and Building Code which are usually referred to as the “Uniform Code” or simply as the “Code.” Many cities and municipalities have enacted their own regulations, some of which are even stricter than the state’s requirements.

In general terms, the New York state regulations for public, private, and residential swimming pools include:

  • a fence at least 48 inches high to completely surround the swimming pool
  • all gates must be self-latching
  • an alarm that detects anyone entering the pool and makes an audible output

Even though these regulations have probably prevented hundreds of drowning accidents, they obviously are not 100% effective.

Causes of Drowning Accidents

The majority of drowning accidents can be traced back to three factors:

  • lack of supervision
  • inadequate swimming pool fences or other barriers to unauthorized use
  • no trained rescue or emergency medical personnel on-site or immediately available
  • Lack of Supervision

Lack of supervision at residential swimming pools, residential community (apartment and condo complexes) pools, and public beaches is the greatest factor in drowning accidents, particularly among children. Failure to provide supervision is a clear act of negligence.

  • Inadequate Swimming Pool Fences Or Other Barriers To Unauthorized Use

Although there are laws and regulations that give the minimum requirements for swimming pool barriers, it is well known that children seem to be experts at defeating this measures. When child ingenuity is paired with poor upkeep of barriers it often leads to an accidental drowning.

  • No Trained Rescue Or Emergency Medical Personnel On-site Or Immediately Available

Some swimming pool owners are under the impression that a “No Swimming” or a “No Lifeguard On Duty” sign are all that is necessary to relieve them of liability for a drowning accident. This can easily be refuted by noting that signs are not very effective with a child that cannot read or with a visitor that does not understand English well enough to comprehend these warnings.

Near-drowning and Dry Drowning

There are many cases on record with medical examiners / coroners where someone is pulled from the water after nearly drowning only to die hours later. These deaths are cases of what has been called “dry drowning.”

When a near drowning accident occurs, water that has entered the upper respiratory tract causes its muscle tissue to contract to prevent water from entering the lungs. After rescue, and for reasons that are not well-understood, these tissues go into spasm again. If a near-drowning victim does not receive prompt emergency care and observation after an accident, the lack of care and observation might be interpreted as negligence.

Liability In Accidental Drownings

In New York, liability for swimming pool accidents is based on the legal doctrines of “premises liability” and “attractive nuisance.”

  • Premises Liability

In the former, the owner of a “premises” is expected to insure that the area that he owns is safe and free from a hazard that might cause an injury to others. It does not matter if someone is on his property is an “invitee,” or guest of if that person is trespassing: the owner is still expected to maintain a safe premises and can be held liable for injuries that occur on his property.

  • Attractive Nuisance

The attractive nuisance doctrine is similar to premises liability with the exception that “attractive nuisance” applies only to children.

In this doctrine, an “attractive nuisance” is any object that children might use for play while being unaware of the danger that object poses. The doctrine has been applied to abandoned cars or appliances, construction site ans, most importantly, swimming pools. As with premises liability, the property owner is held liable for any injuries that are the result of the attractive nuisance.

How Swimming Accidents Lawyers Can Help the Families of Drowning Accident Victims

No set of state and local regulations can make a pool completely safe. Pool safety begins with proper adult supervision of children and other groups that may not comprehend the dangers of unsupervised swimming. There are times, however, when proper supervision will be unavailable due to any number of reasons, and pool safety features are intended for such occasions.

By the same token, a family that looses a loved one to a drowning accident cannot help but to wonder if there was something else that could have been done to prevent their loss. In many cases there indeed was that one thing which was simply overlooked or even deliberately omitted. It is also true that many of these factors will remain undiscovered unless all the circumstances of the drowning are uncovered by experienced investigators.

Families who are concerned that the full circumstances of a loved one’s death have not been brought to light should consider retaining the services of a swimming pool and drowning accident attorney to manage such an investigation.

In addition to be thoroughly familiar with all the laws and regulations that govern swimming pool safety, an attorney will also understand the civil laws that define the concepts of responsibility and liability that establish the duty of a property owner to his guests and other visitors. After a drowning accident attorney completes his investigation, he and the victim’s surviving family members can discuss their available legal options and then decide on a plan of action regarding those that are responsible for their loss.

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