For nearly the past four months, our way if life in this state and country has been turned almost completely upside down. We’ve been forced in to “lockdown”, workplaces shut, schools closed for months on end, and everyone required to “practice social distancing”. Now it’s summer, with its glorious heat and long, lazy days, and people just want to get outside, play, and have a good time, with many opting for “staycations” instead of travel.
And having a good time in the summer while staying at home, often means backyard water sports of some kind – usually swimming pools, whether inground or above-ground.
Yet, hidden among the fun and enjoyment that so many people understandably seek in swimming pools and watersports during summer, tragedy can occur. Actually,while water sports injuries are not as common as other types of accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, nursing home injuries and other types of injuries, Massachusetts swimming pool accidents happen more than most people might think. The reasons for this make it no surprise why this is so.
First, a swimming pool is a magnet — for primarily kids. (In legal terms, it’s called an “attractive nuisance”). Adults obviously use pools too, but it’s kids and teenagers that really love them. Consider the hazards: If the pool is an above-ground, the users need to climb up a ladder (however short) with dripping wet feet. That’s called an ‘accident just waiting to happen’, which often results in serious injuries that can involve broken bones. Also, above-ground pools, by the nature of their construction, are usually fairly shallow; maybe 4 to 5 feet deep – not deep enough to safely dive into. Regardless, kids routinely dive into them – which can result in catastrophic neck and back injuries. As a Massachusetts pool injury lawyer, I’ve seen paralysis result from these injuries.
If the pool in in-ground, it’s made of cement and surrounded by a cement or tile apron, both of which can obviously become very slippery when wet. with both kids and adults moving around it with bare feet on wet surfaces. More so, if the walking surfaces are painted, as many are, they can become even more of a slip hazard. Most kids don’t lower themselves gently into a pool: They love to run and jump into them. They love to dive off diving boards, and “dive-bomb” other kids in the water. In short, swimming pools may look like fun, and often can be fun to use, but looked at from a legal perspective, they’re accidents waiting to happen.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these hazards exist only in backyard swimming pools: Hotel & motel swimming pools are just as, if not more, hazardous. While most hotels have a life ring and a rescue hook, there are rarely lifeguards stationed at hotel swimming pools. As you know, the floor of almost all such pools slop downward, toward the deep end. Without a floating rope line demarcating the shallow end of the pool, from the deep end, many people (especially Kids) dive headfirst thinking it’s deep enough, only to suffer serious neck & head injuries – as above, even paralysis.
The main problem with swimming pool accidents is that the injuries are commonly severe. Drowning accidents very often result in traumatic brain injuries due to lack of oxygen. These types of accidents require highly specialized legal talent when a lawsuit becomes necessary. Proficiency in this area of law requires years of expertise demonstrating proven, successful results with these cases. General practice lawyers aren’t the best choice to handle such cases, which are known in the legal profession as “catastrophic injury cases”.
While the defendant in swimming pool accident cases will either be property owner of hotel owner, 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 will stop at almost nothing to win these cases, for two primary reasons: 1) It’s how they operate; and 2) The damages involved 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.