During the sticky summer months, temperatures in Oklahoma City can soar into the triple digits. Trying to beat the heat, countless children and adults will flock to public and privately-owned pools for a refreshing dip in the water. However, when swimming pools are not adequately supervised or maintained, what should be a fun summer afternoon can turn into a tragedy. Fatal and nonfatal drowning accidents are common in the United States, and in many cases, result from carelessness and negligence on the part of the pool’s owner, maintenance crew, and/or lifeguard.
If you or one of your loved ones was injured while swimming in Oklahoma City, the attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook may be able to help you recover compensation for your lost income, your medical bills, and other costs and hardships. We handle cases involving a range of swim facilities, including public pools, private pools, hotel pools, gym pools, swim clubs, and water parks at amusement parks. Call our law offices today at (405) 698-3040 to set up a free and confidential assessment of your case.
Water-Related Injuries and Fatal Drowning: Risks and Statistics
Drowning accidents and water-related injuries are more common than anyone would ever like to imagine, particularly where children and teenagers are concerned. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 10 people die from accidental drowning every day, about one fifth of whom are children aged 14 or younger. Nonfatal accidents are even more common, with the CDC stating that “for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.”
Submersion injuries occur when a swimmer is submerged underwater for an extended period of time, which can happen if a swimmer is entangled in debris, pushed under by other swimmers, or trapped by a malfunctioning suction system. The longer the swimmer is underwater and unable to breathe, the longer his or her brain is deprived of oxygen, which can eventually lead to permanent damage. In severe cases, oxygen deprivation from submersion underwater can result in “long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.”
While drowning is the most obvious hazard associated with swimming pools, other serious or fatal injuries can also occur. For instance, if the bottom of a pool is littered with even two or three pieces of broken glass – which is virtually impossible to see underwater, even with goggles – a swimmer could cut their feet badly and require stitches. If the area around the pool is not well-maintained, a visitor could have a slip and fall accident, which can cause bone fractures, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other severe injuries. Injuries can also be caused by pool accessories that are broken or defective, like cracked diving boards or life vests which don’t inflate or clasp shut properly.
Negligence and Liability: Public Pool Safety Laws in OK
Some risk factors for drowning relate purely to demographics: for instance, males and children are more likely to drown than females and adults. However, several of the major risk factors identified by the CDC are significant to swimming injury victims because they often involve an element of negligence, which describes a failure to take adequate precautions in order to reduce the risk of foreseeable death or injury. These risk factors include:
- Inadequate pool barriers. According to CDC data, the risk of drowning decreases by 83% when a pool is completely enclosed by fencing. Open pools (and other potential hazards) which are likely to attract children are sometimes described as “attractive nuisances.” When determining liability for accidents involving an attractive nuisance, Oklahoma courts will generally consider factors like the likelihood of children spotting the pool, and whether the child was old enough to understand the nature of the hazard. Chapter 310:315 of the Oklahoma Administrative Code requires public pools to be surrounded by barriers which are at least six feet high, while indoor pools must be located in a room whose doors can be locked.
- Inadequate supervision of swimmers. When no lifeguards are on duty, pools must post a prominent, easy-to-read warning notice. Chapter 310:315 of the Oklahoma Administrative Code requires public pools to display warning signs indicating “no lifeguard or attendant on duty” where applicable. In order to become qualified in Oklahoma City, lifeguards must be at least 16 years old, and must receive training to confirm that they are able to complete certain tasks while swimming.
Speaking generally, businesses and property owners also have an obligation to maintain premises which are code-compliant and reasonably free of safety hazards to guests and patrons. If a person suffers a slip and fall injury at a pool in Oklahoma City due to negligent property maintenance, the owner may be liable depending on the circumstances of the accident.
We understand that nothing could be more painful than seeing your child or loved one become permanently disabled after a near-drowning accident, or coping with the wrongful drowning death of a family member. Our attorneys will do everything in our power to hold the guilty party accountable and help you obtain justice.
If you were injured while swimming at a public or private pool in Oklahoma City, or if one of your loved ones was a victim of wrongful death, you can turn to the compassionate and experienced injury lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook for support and representation. Call our law offices today at (405) 698-3040 for a free, completely confidential legal consultation.