Articles Posted in Swimming Pool & Aquatic Injuries

Summer-Pool-Time-150x150Summer is filled with fun, games, and outdoor activities.  Children get a break from school and the time to enjoy the outdoors.  While summer can be filled with wonderful activities and fun, it also is filled with risks and dangers.  This is especially true for any and all activities in or near water. Children, especially toddlers and infants, do not understand the risks / dangers associated with swimming pools and other aquatic areas.  While the risks of drowning are well known or should be well known to adults / child care providers, there are still reported drownings of children every year.

For children one to four years old, drowning is statistically the most likely cause of death, but there are ways in which it can be avoided. Unattended bodies of water such as bathtubs, ponds, and pools serve as the biggest threat to your child’s safety. According to KidsHealth.org it takes less than 2 inches of water for a young child to drown, meaning any small bodies of water whether it be in a sink or toilet could pose risks to a child’s safety. Unsupervised access to these bodies of water could quickly lead to a drowning case in which it only takes 90 seconds for your child to potentially pass away. The National Safety Council recommends that parents give their children swim lessons from an early age in order to teach them how to swim and further prevent a possible drowning incident.

From the perspective of a community center or any organization tasked with watching children near bodies of water, supervision is of the utmost importance. Having at least one designated “water watcher” lowers the chances of unexpected drowning instances. In cases pertaining to community pools there may be a lifeguard watching the water but it is always safe to assign at least one additional “water watcher” in order to account for moments in which the lifeguard may not be paying attention OR otherwise occupied with another situation. When a drowning or potential drowning incidnt occurs, there is very little time to react and potentially save a life. Ensure that employees and parents are aware of CPR techniques as this knowledge and skill may be the difference between life and death in these occurrences. Around larger bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, ensure that all children are fashioned with life jackets, even if they are adequate swimmers. Life jackets could also be used in smaller bodies of water for weaker swimmers. When at these natural bodies of water also be aware of local wildlife and foliage that could potentially cause a drowning incident. Large waves and undertows are also known causes of drowning so be sure to keep children away from these parts of the water. Teaching children to not stand with their back to waves can lower the odds of them being knocked over and into the water. Safety first should be top of mind in any situation where a child is in or near a water area.

Summer-150x150During the summer months, children get a break from school and and are able to the enjoy the outdoors, swimming, sports, summer camp, and other activities.  With these activities, there are risks. Children, especially toddlers and infants, lack basic safety awareness.  Elementary school aged children, pre-teens, and even teens do not always recognize the danger of certain activities and situation.  As such, it is important for adults, caregivers, counselors, teachers, and others responsible for the care and supervision of children to be mindful of the risks for many summer activities.  When a child is injured, the most important thing to do is to get the child out of harm’s way and then address the medical needs of a child.  When a child is injured due to the negligence of others, there may be a legal remedy and right to compensation for the injured child.  While the pursuit of justice and the enforcement of legal rights are important concepts, it is also important to exercise due care and supervision to begin with so that injuries are avoided. With summer activities, the safety of the child is paramount to other concerns and issues.

In the summer, children will often go swimming. Because of this, pool safety should be the priority for parents, caregivers, teachers, counselorse, and pool owners. More than 1,000 children each year die from drowning and countless others suffer life-altering injuries. The majority of drowning accidents happen in home swimming pools. Of these drownings, most of these could have been prevented had a gate been installed around the pool. Pool gates should be at least four feet tall and be out of the reach of a small child. If your child is swimming, you should be in the pool with them, or supervising from a close distance. Supervision should involve having your eyes on the phone and the child rather than your eyes on a mobile phone, TV, or tablet.

Another potential danger to children this summer is a treehouse. Almost 3,000 children are sent to the hospital every year for treehouse related injuries; anywhere from bumps and bruises to cuts from broken glass and strangulation from rope. Due to the number of risks, a parent should take special care when constructing and allowing a child to play in a treehouse. They should build it low to the ground, no higher than ten feet. The treehouse needs solid barrier walls. And, if children are playing in the treehouse, they should be supervised.

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In Jacksonville, Florida and other cites, swimming parties are quite common.  However, not every swimming party goes through the formality of assigning a “Lifeguard” and “Water Watchers”.  This does not mean that every swimming party should have a trained and certified Lifeguard; however, it would be ideal to have a trained Lifeguard is one is available.  For purposes of this article, let’s designate the Lifeguard as the manager of the water watchers or the person who makes sure that there are adult supervisors / water watchers in place at all times during the party. This can also include times in which no children are in the pool IF the children have access to the pool.  With far too many parties, there are many adults present but nobody is watching the water.  The adults are engaged in conversation and otherwise staring at their phones and tablets.  Just because an adult is close in proximity to a swimming pool – it does not mean that the adult is paying attention.

It is best if the host of the party designates a Lifeguard and Water Watchers.  It may be helpful to have a sign up sheet and times set up for the Lifeguard and the Water Watchers.  The simple act of setting up the sign up sheet and then having the right people in place to serve as a Lifeguard and Water Watchers can save a life of a child and otherwise make the activity of swimming that much safer for the children.

Jacksonville, Florida had 6 drowning deaths to date.  Certainly, it is a terrible headline for the community and a worse one for the families who have suffered the loss of a child due to a drowning incident.  If a child dies from a drowning event or incident that could have been prevented by the acts of other persons, parties, business entities, or government entities, then an insurance claim or lawsuit may be pursued on behalf of the parents of the child.  This is called a Wrongful Death case which is governed in part by Chapter 768. Florida Statutes.  The most recent child to die as a result of a drowning incident was reported as Nyziah Clark who was attending a pool party with classmates at a pool for a gated townhome community.  See 6th Drowning Death Reported in Jacksonville, Florida.

Swimming-Pool-Liability-150x150Throughout the year, Florida has the distinction of being a state in which warm weather allows for swimming even through the Fall and Winter months. When a child dies as a result of a drowning incident, the death of a child has a ripple effect through the family and community.  According to statistics collated the Florida Department of Children and Families, 82 drowned in 2017 with another 56 who have drowned in 2018 as of this time. Children and adults, who happened to be strong swimmers, can still encounter trouble while swimming.  As such, it is important to have supervision and assistance nearby any time that a child or adult enters a pool. This is especially true for young children, toddlers, and infants who may lack these strong swimming skills or safety awareness.
We live in a world of constant and ongoing distractions in the form of our smart phones and tablets. In a way, our smart phones are making us a bit dumber and less aware of our surroundings. This often is the case when an adult is supposedly supervising a child.  With eyes fixated on the small screen of an iPhone or iPad, a small child may encounter trouble or danger in the form of any body of water including swimming pools, lakes, oceans, rivers, hot tubs, and even bath tubs.
A swimming pool related legal action requires the showing of four elements as follows:

Water-Safety-150x150Florida is a state that allows for swimming virtually year round.  There are swimming pools in just about every neighborhood from small backyard pools to community swimming pools.  While swimming is a great activity for children, it also poses a real risk for children, especially toddlers and smaller children who lack strong swimming, survival skills, and judgment.  Certainly, a child is at risk when there is no adult supervision in the area of the water way / swimming pool.  Even when adults are present, there are also risks to children if their the “supervision” is distracted by conversation, mobile phone use, a television, or just simple inattention.  When a child dies or is seriously injured from a drowning incident, there is a ripple effect through the family and the community.

A recent event that occurred in Jacksonville, Florida exemplifies this. According to a news report, a toddler  drowned in a backyard pool when family members briefly lost track of him. Events like these occur all too frequently. According to the Center for Disease Control, an average of over 700 children under age fourteen die annually from drowning. The Center for Disease Control also indicates that, for every child that dies from drowning, five others go to the hospital for almost drowning. Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in number of child deaths from drowning in 2017, as revealed by the Miami Herald. Thus, staying vigilant with children around water is especially pertinent in Florida.  See Water Injuries – Fact Sheet- Center for Disease Control. 

Most drowning and near drowning incidents are completely preventable.  Water safety / swimming precautions can include: installation of fencing around water, designation of an adult to provide constant supervision of children in water or around water, pool alarm systems for doors leading out to water access, adornment of lifejackets when children play near or in the water, and swim lessons at a young age. CPR training may also save a child’s life in the event that a child drowns.

Drowning-Prevention-Tips-150x150In the summer throughout the United States, there is a common risk in just about every neighborhood – the risk of drowning.  It is important that all child care providers including babysitters, day care centers, child care centers, schools, and summer camps have a plan in place for the proper supervision of children any time that there is a swimming pool accessible to the child and anytime that there are aquatic or boating related activities.

David Wolf is a personal injury attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida who handles child injury cases throughout the State of Florida.  David Wolf is an attorney, author, and advocate for the safety of children.  It is important that the safety of a child be a top of the mind priority for a child care provider any time a child is near a swimming pool or some how may gain access to a swimming pool.  David Wolf is the author of 11 books including the book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child. This book covers a variety of topics including the following:  Swimming Pools, Water Parks and Other Bodies of Water, Sports and Recreational Injuries, Automobile Accidents, Playground Injuries, and other topics.  You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

Drowning is more common than we would like to admit, in fact, for children between the ages of one and fourteen it is the second leading cause of death. Because of the increased risk these children face, it is important for parents, neighbors, friends, relatives, schools, summer camps, day care centers and all others in charge of supervising a child in or near a swimming pool or other water way to keep the certain tips and concepts in mind.

Swimming-Pool-Drowning-150x150In the State of Florida, warm weather allows for swimming and water related activities during most of the year. Of course, summer time is the most popular and populated swim period.  With hot weather in the summer, swimming can be a great way for children to play, relax, and have fun.  However, swimming related activities and locations can also be the site of a tragedy when a child dies as a result of a drowning.  Children are naturally curious. Furthermore, young children especially toddlers have very poor safety awareness.  Because of this, it is important that small children are properly supervised at all times and that swimming pools have proper barriers to the protection of toddlers and young children.
David Wolf, a partner with the law firm of Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A. is a child injury attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida who handles cases throughout the State of Florida. He is the author of 11 books including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know.  The book covers a number of topics including Homeowner’s Insurance, Swimming Pools, Water Parks, and Other Bodies of Water, Sports and Recreational Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
It is reported that drowning deaths among all age groups is the sixth leading cause of unintentional deaths.  For children 14 and under, drowning is reported as the second leading cause of unintentional deaths.  Despite the known dangers of swimming pools for children, there are still a number of deaths reported over the summer and other times of years of a small child wandering into a pool area and drowning.

Swimming-Pool-Safety-150x150During the spring and summer months, there is an increase in the number of reported drownings and near drownings throughout the United States.  For many warm weather States like California, Texas, and Florida, there are risks of drowning just about year round due to the climate and the abundance of swimming pools, water parks, canals, rivers, and other water ways. Tragically, Texas holds the distinction for being the number one State for child pool drownings.  Children can be especially at risk for drowning when there is a lack of adult supervision.  Certainly, adult supervision should be provided any time that a child is in or near a swimming pool or other accessible swimming area or water way.
While it is difficult to believe or understand, many child drownings and near drownings take place when there are a number of adults in or near the swimming pool area.  How can this happen? How can a child drown with adults just feet away from the swimming pool area?  A drowning can take place in a swimming pool when the adults in the area are otherwise occupied in the acts of talking, eating, drinking, sleeping, surfing (the internet), texting, web browsing, watching a sporting event, or simply talking on a mobile phone.  The presence of adults in or near a swimming pool area is not the same as watchful and attention adult supervision.  As such, it is important to make sure that adult supervision is in place any time that a child is in or near a swimming pool.
Certainly, if a school, summer camp, or day care center is in session and swimming is a current activity – there should be designated and trained staff members in place to watch over the children and to place safety above all other concerns and distractions.  A swimming pool or swimming area is not a good place for multi-tasking.  As such, a person should not have a mobile device in hand and in use while assigned or engaged in the act of supervising children in or near a swimming pool area.

Florida Pool.001In Florida, it is common to see swimming pools in most neighborhood.  It is somewhat of a luxury to have a swimming pool right there in the back yard.  Swimming pools can add to the aesthetics of the house and surrounding.  Swimming pools can also provide for a great deal of fun and relaxation for adults and children alike.  Unfortunate and tragically, swimming pools are also the site of horrible tragedies that despite laws, common sense, and the general knowledge of other similar tragedies continue to take place.  It has been reported that Florida leads the nations in drowning for children under the age of 5 years old.  Florida has ranked second in drownings the age group of 1 to 14 years old.  Florida’s weather allows for swimming almost year round.  During Spring and Summer months, it is tragically predictable that additional drownings of small children will take place.
Florida has adopted a swimming pool act that applies to all homeowners with a swimming pool.  There must be a barrier that is at least 4 feet high on the outside.  There should not be any gaps, openings, or structural components that would allow a child to crawl or squeeze through the barrier or enclosure.  You can read more about these regulations at Section 515.29, Florida Statutes – Residential Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements.
Can a homeowner be held liable or responsible with a child neighbor or child visitor drowns in the swimming pool in Florida?  The answer to this question like most legal question is “It depends.”  If the homeowner failed to follow the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Act and these violations were the proximate cause of the drowning – then the homeowner may be held liable or responsible for the drowning.

blue and vibrant swimming poolside

In the State of Florida and across the nation, one of the leading causes of death for small children, and especially toddlers, is drowning. In Florida, there are private residential swimming pools, public swimming pools, and hotel/motel/resort swimming pools in just about every community. It is important for property owners, business owners, home owners, and government entity to properly safeguard the swimming pool and aquatic area for the protection of children. It is well known and expected that a child, especially one of tender years, under the age of 5 years old, to be curious and inquisitive about interesting areas and what is deemed under Florida Law to be an “attractive nuisance.”

Unfortunately and tragically, there are reports of drowning incidents every summer, spring and the rest of the year in Florida. Many such incidents are preventable with the proper implementation and maintenance of swimming pool fences and barriers, swimming pool alarms, proper adult supervision, proper lifesaving equipment, and the posting of trained and attentive life guards when appropriate. When a child suffers personal injury or dies as a result of a drowning incident there may be a case or claim to pursue on behalf of the child and the family. To establish a legal claim r case, there must be proof and evidence of the following four elements:

1. Duty;