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Drowning is a nightmare scenario for parents, children, and families who use swimming pools in San Bernardino and across California. Because our state features a climate that allows us to use swimming pools year round, public and private swimming pools are more common in California than they are in other parts of the country.
Unfortunately, swimming pool accidents and drowning injuries are also common in California.
When these incidents occur, a swimming pool accident victim or their family should seek legal advice, as they may have a claim for compensation against a person or entity who caused the injuries by their negligent acts.
What are common causes of swimming pool accidents?
Swimming pool accidents, including drowning and other injuries, such as slip and fall incidents, can occur for many reasons. Sometimes, the cause of a swimming pool accident isn’t immediately clear after the accident occurs. For that reason, it is essential that an attorney fully investigates the accident that injured you or a loved one. The most common causes of swimming pool accidents in San Bernardino include the following:
Property Owner’s Inadequate Fencing
In legal terms, swimming pools are referred to as “attractive nuisances,” which means that the law recognizes swimming pools as posing a specific risk to children who might be drawn to the pool as a source of fun or enjoyment. That recognition is illustrated by the fact that many swimming pool injuries involving children occur when a child jumps or falls into a pool after sneaking away from adult supervision.
Because of pools being labeled “attractive nuisances,” the law requires that property owners of public pools and private pools take steps to ensure that the pool is properly enclosed and fenced, for the protection of children who may be drawn to the pool. These rules apply to all property owners, regardless of whether they own children or not.
When a property owner fails to adequately fence a pool, they can be held responsible for that failure if a child finds his or her way into the pool area, and is then injured in the pool. These types of claims for liability are among the most common in swimming pool accident lawsuits.
Defective Products and Flotation Devices
In some swimming pool accident cases, injuries are caused by defective products, such as lifejackets, floats, diving boards, water slides, and pool toys. These types of claims can be complicated, as sometimes, a product’s failure is due to a property owner’s negligent installment or maintenance. But in other cases, a product’s manufacturer or retailer can be held liable for defective products that were otherwise installed and used according to the product’s design and instructions.
Improper Application of Pool Chemicals
Pool chemicals, especially in public pools, are harsh. While the harshness of chemicals may be sometimes warranted to ensure that pools are sanitary and clean, that harshness also requires that chemicals are handled and applied with care. In some unfortunate cases, pool chemicals are applied improperly and negligently, resulting in the water being over-concentrated in chemicals that can be very harmful to the human body. Exposure to pool chemicals in high amounts can cause chemical burns, which can be extremely painful and in some cases, cause permanent, serious damage.
Swimming Pool Accident Liability in San Bernardino
The specific elements of legal liability depend on the type of claim being made, but generally, to prove liability for a swimming pool accident in San Bernardino, a plaintiff must show the four elements of a negligence claim, which are duty, breach, causation, and injury. Thus, liability for swimming pool injuries can be sought against any party who (1) had a duty to either protect or otherwise act in a way to avoid the victim’s injury; (2) breached that duty by acting negligently; (3) which in turn caused the victim’s injury; and (4) the victim was actually injured.
Common parties that are held liable for swimming pool accident injuries include:
- Swimming pool and property owners
- Lifeguards and lifeguard supervisors
- Manufacturers and retailers of pool products
- Pool maintenance workers (who apply pool chemicals)
Proving a Swimming Pool Accident Liability Claim
Proving a swimming pool accident liability claim is the same as in any other lawsuit. You and your attorney will work together to compile evidence to prove that another person or entity’s negligent acts or omissions caused the injuries that you or a loved one suffered. This evidence may include photos of the pool and property where the injury occurred, interviews with witnesses who saw the accident, medical bills and other evidence of damages, and any other information or documentation that may be helpful to your lawsuit.
In California, a swimming pool accident plaintiff must prove the liability of another person by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the evidence weighs in the plaintiff’s favor by at least 51 percent. That burden of proof is significantly lower than the burden of proof in criminal cases, and it can be used to compel insurance companies and negligent actors to settle cases quickly before they go to trial.
Compensation for Swimming Pool Accidents in California
Fundamentally, the goal of a swimming pool accident lawsuit is to ensure that a victim is fully and fairly compensated for their injuries. In California, no damage cap exists on personal injury cases, which includes swimming pool accident lawsuits, meaning that you and your attorney are free to pursue any amount that fully and fairly compensates you. That amount depends on the specific facts of your case, but can include damages from the following categories:
- Medical expenses and hospital bills
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Wrongful death damages, including funeral expenses
- Loss of consortium for spouses and domestic partners
- Punitive damages for especially wrongful conduct
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering damages
Contact a San Bernardino Swimming Pool Accident Attorney
Our team at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP is ready to assist you and your family with pursuing compensation after a swimming pool injury in San Bernardino. To schedule a free case consultation, call us today at (310) 477-1700.