Another Reminder: Massachusetts Swimming Pool Accidents Too Common

As I write this post, I am on Cape Cod, in the early hours of July 4 2018, having spent a glorious, happy day on the Cape Cod National Seashore. I am, with thousands of other people, celebrating our nation’s Independence Day. Everyone seems happy.

Yet, hidden among the pleasure, happiness and enjoyment that bring so many people to Cape Cod in summer, tragedy can occur . It happened most recently within a subject matter that I have blogged about previously: The subject of swimming pool accidents, and of how dangerous swimming pools actually are. In fact, while they are nowhere near as common as other types of accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, or slip-and-fall accidents, Massachusetts swimming pool accidents are not exactly rare. Swimming pool injures are quite common, and when the reasons for this are examined, it’s not surprise why these types of injuries happen.

First, a swimming pool is a magnet for primarily kids. Yes, of course adults use them, but it’s kids that really love them. If the pool involved is above-ground, swimmers need to climb up a ladder, with dripping wet feet – an accident just waiting to happen, which can result in serious injuries which commonly involve broken bones. Also, above-ground pools are by the nature of their construction usually fairly shallow; maybe 4 to 5 feet deep – not deep enough to safely dive into. If it’s an in-ground pool, it’s surrounded by cement, with both kids and adults moving around it with bare feet on wet surfaces. If those surfaces are painted, as many are, they become even more slippery. Kids love to run and jump into a pool. They love to dive off diving boards, they love to jump on other kids in the water. In short, swimming pools may look like fun, and often can be fun to use, but they’re accidents waiting to happen. In legal terms, when it comes to swimming pool injuries involving kids, a swimming pool is known legally as an “attractive nuisance.”

Attraction almost became tragedy recently here on Cape Cod, with another Massachusetts swimming pool injury, this time at the Sea Crest Hotel in Falmouth. The Cape Cod Times reported yesterday that a 7 year-old boy, Jonah Maguire from Ireland, nearly drowned when he reportedly jumped into the pool, and didn’t surface. Someone in the pool saw the boy laying at the bottom of the pool and pulled him out, but according to initial accounts, he was unresponsive. He was transported to Falmouth Hospital, but was then airlifted to a Boston hospital. 

From reports issued so far, it seems that this new accident may have occurred, due to a lack of floating rope line demarcating the shallow end of the pool, from the deep end. If true (and I emphasize “if”), that lack of open and obvious visible warning might have contributed to this event. Also according to reports, there were no lifeguards on duty at the pool. Again, if true, I can assure you as a Massachusetts swimming pool accident attorney who has handled many of these cases, that this yet another example of how irresponsible and negligent many hotel and resort operators can be, when it comes to on-site swimming pools. So many of these hotels, motels and resorts, just don’t “get it” when it comes to swimming pool safety.  I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but too many hotels and resorts are too lax when it comes to staffing lifeguards at their swimming pools, at all times when the pool is open for guests’ use.

I pray that this young boy’s injuries are not severe. Swimming pool injuries are often severe, as drowning accidents very often involve traumatic brain injuries due to lack of oxygen ( medically known as hypoxia.) These types of accidents require very specialized legal experience when a lawsuit becomes necessary. Swimming pool accident lawyers who actually know this area of law to an expert level, are nowhere near as numerous as the internet may indicate. This area of law is a sub-specialty of Massachusetts tort law, and requires years of expertise demonstrated through years of successful results with these cases. General practice lawyers, or even lawyers who handle injury cases but who haven’t successfully handled Massachusetts swimming pool injury cases, are not the best choice to represent a client in such a case. These cases are known in the legal profession as “catastrophic injury cases,” and they demand highly specialized, expert-level experience.

I know that, because I’ve handled cases like this – and knowledge like this, only comes with experience, dtermination and grit (the type that I call “Grit that won’t quit.” What any swimming pool injury victim or his/her family members must keep first in their mind when considering whether to bring a legal action against a hotel or other owner/operator involved, is this: While the defendant in swimming pool accident cases is almost always the hotel or resort owner or operator, that is a legal technicality. On a logistical level, these cases are defended by the liability insurance company that insures the property or the business owner. Why is this fact so important? Because to “cut to the chase”, liability insurance companies fight like hell with these cases: They will stop at almost nothing to win, for two primary reasons: 1) It’s how they operate; and 2) The damages involved (financial liability exposure) are usually very high, and because the legal and financial stakes are so high, they don’t yield an inch of ground.

If you have any questions about swimming pool injuries, whether the owner of the pool is a business or a homeowner, we’d be glad to answer them in a complimentary phone call of free initial consult. I do hope and pray that this boy recovers. For whatever it may be worth, I will offer a prayer to his parents and family.

Stay safe. And let’s all count our blessings for whatever we have – good health, or whatever. Because in an instant, a fleeting, tragic instant, it can be lost.