Swimming pools are an American icon of summertime fun, giving young and old alike the chance to cool down and relax with friends and family. However, swimming pools are rife with hazards and can also be extremely dangerous. The CDC reports that accidental drownings claim ten lives every day, about 20% of whom are children under the age of 15. Issues like malfunctioning pool drains and defective pool equipment, poorly trained or under-staffed lifeguards, and slippery or broken decks can all lead to serious injuries and wrongful death.
If you or one of your loved ones was seriously injured in a swimming pool accident at a hotel, spa, resort, apartment complex, or other commercial or residential setting, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and other expenses. Personal injury lawyer Joseph Lombardo may be able to help. Joseph has over 20 years of experience handling injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of New Jersey residents, and is committed to providing his clients with compassionate and personal support at every stage of the legal process. Joseph handles claims throughout Atlantic City, Cherry Hill, Hammonton, Hamilton, Vineland, Mays Landing, and the surrounding areas.
Even if you aren’t quite sure whether you have a claim, please do not hesitate to call Joseph at (800) 930-3241 to set up a free and completely private legal consultation. Joseph will listen to your situation and guide you through some of the options that may be available to you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in New Jersey?
If you are an injury victim, it’s very important that you seek legal help right away. If you wait for too long, you could permanently lose your opportunity to seek compensation. This is due to a law called the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is a very important legal rule that applies to both civil and criminal cases. In the context of personal injury, the statute of limitations restricts the amount of time a plaintiff has in which to file a claim. If the statute runs out or “expires,” the case will be barred, and there is little more the plaintiff can do.
The New Jersey statute of limitations on wrongful death and personal injury claims is two years, beginning from the date of the injury or death. While two years sounds like plenty of time, the process of investigating evidence and consulting with industry experts can be very time-consuming. Therefore, injury victims are strongly urged to get legal help as soon as possible. At Lombardo Law, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.
Liability and Compensation for Swimming Pool Accidents
You may be able to recover compensation for your injuries if another person or a business entity was at fault for the accident which occurred. This legal concept is called “negligence.” In simple terms, negligence means that a person or business failed to take reasonable steps to repair or avoid an existing or foreseeable hazard which they should have known about.
For example, public pool owners have a duty to keep their pools reasonably safe for visitors and guests. This includes performing regular maintenance, posting warning and caution signs as necessary, and putting up appropriate barriers to minimize the risk of accidental child drownings. If a public pool owner does nothing to correct a current or developing safety issue of which the owner is aware or should be aware – for example, a dangerous crack or structural defect that creates a foreseeable slip and fall hazard – he or she could potentially be liable for any deaths or injuries which result from the negligent maintenance.
Chapter IX of the New Jersey State Sanitary Code (Public Recreational Bathing) imposes numerous laws and regulations governing pool safety throughout the state. For example, under N.J.A.C. § 8:26-5. 2 (Swimming Pool Supervision), “At least one lifeguard certified by an organization recognized by the Department of Health and Senior Services… shall be on duty for 60 or less swimmers at all times when the swimming pool is in use. Additional lifeguards shall be required depending on bather load, bather activities, size and configuration of the swimming pool, and amount of surface area for shallow and deep water areas, emergencies, and lifeguard’s ability to see bathers.”
The same statute also states that “at least one person trained and certified in standard first aid and professional level infant, child and adult CPR shall be on the premises and be readily accessible when the swimming pool is in use.” When pool owners violate these regulations, they should be held accountable for resulting accidents.
Water Injury and Death Statistics: Risk Factors for Drowning
Unfortunately, pool and water accidents are more common than most people initially realize. The CDC reports more than 3,500 accidental drownings occurred annually from 2005 to 2009, with another 347 yearly drowning deaths related to boating accidents. Approximately one in five victims were children and young teenagers, while children aged one to four years old were at the highest risk. Nearly 80% of all drowning victims were male.
The CDC also identifies several risk factors which increase the probability of drowning – many of which involve a component of negligence. For example, two of the risk factors identified by the CDC are “lack of close supervision” and “lack of barriers.” Dangerous objects which attract children – such as pools – are known as “attractive nuisances” and must be treated accordingly. The attractive nuisance doctrine often plays a major role in determining liability and compensation in cases where children are injured or killed.
However, fatal drownings are not the only hazard associated with swimming accidents. Even in cases where victims survive, submersion injuries (near-drowning accidents) can still lead to serious medical complications.
For example, victims who survive being submerged underwater for long periods of time frequently suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by prolonged oxygen deprivation. TBI survivors may require life-long medical care. Effects of TBI vary from person to person, but can include paralysis, intellectual disability, incontinence, difficulty learning and communicating, and reduced sensory perception. Injuries from defective pool drains and suction systems can involve catastrophic organ damage to the intestines, colon, and GI tract, and survivors may require a colostomy bag or intravenous feeding.
If you or someone you love suffered serious swimming pool injuries, you may be able to recover compensation to help ease your pain, suffering, and financial losses. To start talking about your accident in a free and completely confidential case evaluation, call attorney Joseph Lombardo at (800) 930-3241 today.