What You Need to Know About Pool Safety & Children in Alabama
Swimming is a fun and popular pastime for children and families, particularly in states like Florida and Alabama where temperatures can top 100 degrees in the summer months. Yet, swimming pools come with inherent dangers that could cause serious injury or even death to young children.
There are as many as nine drownings each day in this country. Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental deaths among children ages 1-14. For each child that loses their life, there are as many as four non-fatal water incidents that are serious enough to require hospitalization. In most cases, that children that drown in both public and private pools are out of sight of a parent for just five minutes or less.
Non-Fatal Swimming Pool Injuries
Drowning and death aren’t the only types of injuries that occur from swimming pools. Several non-fatal injuries can occur that have catastrophic and life-changing consequences. The most serious of these is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This can occur when a swimmer is submerged for too long and suffers from brain damage or if they dive into shallow water and hit their head. Other common injuries include broken bones from slip and falls, disembowelment, and electrocution.
Safety Requirements for Alabama Swimming Pools
Some states have mandatory fence laws that apply to swimming pools. Alabama so far doesn’t have one of those laws, but some cities might have their own individual requirements. Swimming pools in Florida must have a 48-inch high barrier surrounding the pool with gates that open outward and self-latching locks on the pool side of the gate.
There is also a new federal law that applies to drain covers on pool filtration systems. In 2002, the granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker lost her life in hot tub after being trapped by the system’s drain suction. A federal law went into effect in 2008 that requires drain covers be installed on all pools with public access. While not required in residential pools, entrapment is still a danger, and these drain covers are recommended for all pools as a safety precaution.
Liability for Private Swimming Pool Accidents
Liability for swimming pool accidents is based on the state’s premises liability laws. When a property owner has a swimming pool, they have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for people that they invite onto their premises. If they don’t provide reasonable safety measures or warn of known hazards, the homeowner could be liable for swimming pool accidents.
While a homeowner might not be liable for injuries to a trespasser, the “attractive nuisance doctrine” can create liability when children wander into a neighbor’s pool and suffer injuries or drown. This is the legal theory that a property owner remains liable when a child, even while trespassing, is drawn to a property by a hazard such as a swimming pool.
For liability to exist in these cases, the owner must know that there is a dangerous condition present, the child must not recognize that a danger exists and they must not receive proper warning of any hazards. Even though there aren’t fence laws in Alabama, property owners are best served securing their private swimming pools to protect children from harm.
Public Pool Accidents Pose a Unique Threat to Children
Premises liability law also applies to public pools such as community centers, hotels, and resorts. The difference is that the owners of a commercial property owe patrons far greater protections. Not only can a public pool owner be held liable for a child’s injuries, but they can also be held responsible for failing to provide the proper emergency safety equipment if a child is hurt or killed. Public pools may also be found liable for having broken or malfunctioning equipment at their pool or for failing to provide adequate supervision. When there are hidden dangers or hazards present, public pool owners must post warnings for their guests.
If one of your children has been injured or suffered a wrongful death in a swimming pool accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Cobb, Boyd, White & Cobb can help your family pursue just compensation for your damages. Contact our office online or at (334)677-1000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.