California Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer

Child Sitting PoolsideUnfortunately, drownings and swimming pool accidents are common occurrences. What begins as a relaxing day in the pool with friends and family can turn into tragedy. Within seconds a memorable outing can turn into a nightmare.

If you or a family member have suffered a swimming pool injury or drowning in Southern California, contact us today for a free case evaluation. Let our proficient law firm determine if you have a premises liability case.

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Why Hire The Reeves Law Group for Your Accident Claim?

  • Over $250,000,000 Recovered for Our Clients
  • Newsweek’s 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys
  • No Fee Guarantee – No Fees Unless We Win

Featured in Newsweek’s 10 Best Trial Lawyers in the Country, The Reeves Law Group is a law firm that specializes in personal injury claims. We have recovered over $250,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We have represented thousands of injured individuals throughout Southern California for over 30 years.

Our law firm handles cases for clients who have suffered serious injuries due to an accident. We offer free case evaluations and will not charge you unless we win your case.

If you sustained serious swimming pool injuries in a public pool area, Call (213) 271-9318 or contact us for a free consultation. A swimming pool accident attorney can give you formal legal advice about your swimming accident and premises liability claim.

Why Hire An Experienced Swimming Pool Accident Attorney in California?

In the aftermath of a tragic accident, hiring an attorney may not seem like a top priority. Getting medical attention for yourself or an injured loved one is your main concern. But, with complex legal and safety issues, it may be best to consult with a California swimming pool injury attorney as soon as you can.

In the event of a drowning, it is difficult for a grieving family to think about legal issues. An experienced lawyer will be able to protect your legal rights during such a traumatic and emotional time.

Do Not Talk To An Insurance Company Without Your Plaintiff’s Attorney Present

Soon after a drowning, any negligent parties will have contacted their insurance company. Every insurance company has a team of adjusters, investigators, and lawyers whose primary responsibility is to limit liability and minimize the payout on a claim.

Often, victims or their families are bombarded with paperwork and questions. In the case of a near-drowning, once you’ve agreed to settle your case, you cannot ask for additional compensation. Many times a person or their loved one injured in a swimming pool accident will discover later that injuries were more extensive than first realized, which could mean more expenses than you first expected, like medical bills, and can extend the length of your disability.

Do not discuss the accident or your injuries without first consulting a swimming pool accident lawyer.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Recover for A Drowning Accident?

Damage awards in a swimming pool accident claim are intended to help restore the victim physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. But in the case of an accidental drowning, a wrongful death claim for damages can be filed by the surviving beneficiaries of the victim. An experienced trial lawyer will be able to help families of the deceased victim determine if a potential wrongful death lawsuit can be pursued.


California Swimming Pool Drowning Statistics

Swimming pools pose the greatest risk of drowning to children than adults. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 500 children under 5 years of age drown in pool accidents each year. Another 3,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries associated with near-drownings.

Swimming accidents cause the second most deaths in the United States for young children in that age group (after auto accidents).

California Child Drowning Statistics

In California, unintentional drowning surpasses all other causes of death to young children ages 14 and under. Of all preschoolers who are drowning victims, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.

Near-Drownings and Other Injuries in Swimming Pools

Near-drownings can result in devastating consequences for the victim. For children that survive drowning events, 5 percent to 20 percent suffer severe and permanent neurological disabilities since brain damage (hypoxia) generally occurs after four minutes of submersion. These life-altering injuries may require a variety of medical expenses, such as surgeries, medications, and visits to specialists. In many cases, the victim requires lifetime medical care and assisted living.

The same legal theories that apply to swimming pool drownings (negligence, premises, and products liability) also apply to near-drownings (see our general drowning practice area page). This type of personal injury case is often quite complex and may require the use of safety experts, accident re-constructionists, and medical experts. It is therefore critical to retain experienced lawyers who know how to handle swimming pool accidents.

Other common swimming pool injuries include diving board accidents, slip and falls, and injuries from chemicals. All three of the legal theories for liability discussed below apply to these types of injuries, depending on the circumstances.

Diving accidents account for over ten percent of the approximately 10,000 spinal cord injuries suffered in the United States every year. Nearly 13,000 people annually suffer diving-related injuries serious enough to require hospitalization. Defective products such as diving boards, lack of maintenance, negligent supervision, and lack of safety signs are common issues in determining liability.

Wet decks are slippery and many people are injured after a slip and fall in these areas. Lack of supervision and the lack of safety signs are frequent liability issues.

Pool chemicals are necessary for clean water, but they are also hazardous if improperly used and can severely injure a swimmer. Negligence of the pool owner or operator is the most common basis for liability.

What Should You Do After a Drowning Accident?

  • Preserve Evidence. If possible, write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses. Take photographs of the accident scene from different angles – the inside and the outside of the pool, the surrounding conditions, the signs, the fences and gates, and the specific location where the accident occurred. Take photographs of any related pool equipment that contributed (i.e., a faulty diving board, a defective drain grate, a ladder in disrepair, etc.). Make sure that any defective products are not disposed of and are kept in a secure place. If the product is in the possession of someone else, seek a lawyer’s help.
  • Document The Events And Your Injuries. As soon as it is practical after a swimming pool drowning, you should:
    1. Document all events surrounding the accident
    2. Obtain police reports concerning the incident and records from the hospital emergency room
    3. Keep notes of all conversations with police, witnesses, emergency medical personnel, and hospital doctors.
  • In the case of a near-drowning you should:
    1. Keep every record that relates to your doctor’s appointments, medical treatment, prescriptions, lost work time, pain and suffering, restriction of activities, and the expenses you’ve had because of the accident
    2. Keep medical records, and write down notes about conversations that you’ve had with your doctors and the medical staff
    3. If applicable, take photographs of any external injuries.

Who is Responsible for a Swimming Pool Drowning?

The question of liability in a swimming pool drowning depends upon the nature of the accident itself.

There are three legal theories that could be involved: 1) premises liability, 2) negligence, and 3) products liability.

1. Premises Liability

A claim that says a property owner is liable for injuries caused by a dangerous or hazardous condition on the property that the owner knew about or should have known about. In the case of a public pool drowning, pool owners have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to make safety a priority for their users, or anyone else on the property.

In California law, the landowner must take steps to protect and prevent harm to anyone entering the property (even a trespasser).

The owner is negligent if he or she fails to take reasonable precautions to prevent a drowning.

The liability applies to:

  • Owners of residential and private pools.
  • Owners of property with private or commercial pools used for the benefit of guests, members, or tenants (such as motels, campgrounds, health clubs, or apartment complexes).
  • Owners of government property (discussed below), such as municipal swimming pools open to the community or school swimming pools.
  • Possessors or operators of the property. For example, someone who rents the property could also be liable for damages in a drowning where he or she failed to take reasonable precautions to protect guests from serious injury.

The negligent party can be at fault for the inadequacies in pool maintenance and the surrounding pool area by their owners, or the supervision of their pool users. Some of these pool safety inadequacies in a drowning case could include the following:

  • Lack of fencing. According to the CPSC, in-ground pools without complete fencing are 60 percent more likely to involve a drowning than fenced pools. A pool owner may be liable after a drowning if it can be shown that a reasonably prudent pool owner would have installed pool safety features such as fencing and locked gates.
  • Warning signs. Property owners may also be liable for a drowning if they failed to post warning signs. An owner must warn swimmers of possible dangers, such as posting signs indicating the depth of the water or a “swim at your own risk” sign in the absence of a lifeguard. However, if a drowning occurs and safety signs are hidden or unreadable, pool owners may be liable. Some dangers are “open and obvious” and a court may not find liability because a reasonable person would have common knowledge of the dangers of swimming without a lifeguard on duty or that shallow depths are not for diving.
  • Negligent supervision. The owner of a private residence can be liable for a drowning for failing to supervise guests, especially if they represented that they would be watching a child. A private commercial landowner that has a pool open to the public as part of their business has a greater degree of duty to protect swimmers and may face liability if no lifeguard is provided, or if warning signs are lacking, despite some dangers being open and obvious. If a lifeguard is negligent in his or her supervision, the employer and/or owner of the property can be held liable for drownings.
  • Lack of maintenance. Property owners can be liable if they failed to maintain the pool or safety equipment in a reasonably safe condition. For example, a pool that is only partially filled may give rise to liability if someone strikes their head on the bottom and is injured or drowns. If the water becomes murky and the bottom slippery from debris, a property owner could be liable for a drowning if someone under the water could not be seen, or if a victim could not get out of a pool due to slippery sides and bottom.

2. Negligence

Under the negligence basis for a drowning claim, a person is liable if they were negligent in causing the accident. Negligence is the failure to do what a normal person would do under the circumstances. A property owner’s negligence in failing to make the property safe establishes his or her liability. Other parties may also be liable if their negligence leads to a drowning. For example, if pool equipment was improperly installed, resulting in a drowning, there might be a cause of action in negligence against the installers. An employer might be liable if unqualified or improperly trained lifeguards were hired, or if the lifeguard’s supervision leads to a drowning.

Another form of negligence is called negligence per se, or strict liability. Under this theory of recovery, a party is liable if they have violated a law. California and many of its cities and towns have passed laws or ordinances that impose restrictions and requirements on the construction and maintenance of residential swimming pools in order to prevent accidents. These laws may require special pool covers, locked gates, and fencing that completely surrounds a pool. Failure to follow such ordinances will result in the property owner’s liability in the event of a death.

3. Products Liability

Products liability is a strict liability claim and is not dependent upon someone’s negligence. Under this basis for recovery, a manufacturer or seller of a defective pool or related equipment is responsible for releasing a defective product.

When a faulty pool or equipment is the cause of a drowning, many people could be responsible:

  • The pool manufacturer (or the manufacturer of a component part),
  • The wholesaler,
  • The retail store that sold the pool to the customer, and
  • The assemblers or installers

Additionally, there are three types of defects:

  • Design defects that are present in the design of the product before it is made,
  • Manufacturing defects that occur in the manufacturing process, and
  • Marketing defects, such as inadequate safety warnings.

As an example, suppose a child comes in contact with an underwater pool drain and the suction from the pump is so strong that the child either cannot pull free or is entrapped when a foot or hand becomes stuck in the drain grate. If the child is injured or drowns, a product liability action could be filed against the pool manufacturer, who may be liable for a design defect. Sometimes, the design of the entire pool itself may be faulty. For example, a dangerous condition might exist where the shallow and deep areas are not clearly marked or if it is difficult to see where the pool is deep enough for diving.

Products used in or around the pool can also be defective and extremely dangerous. Water slides could have weak spots from a manufacturing defect that results in falls. Flotation devices for children could be defective because of a lack of adequate instructions for safe use, clearly indicating a marketing defect.

Contact Our california Swimming Pool Accident LAW FIRM

Our pool accident attorney has won thousands of cases, including numerous swimming pool drowning cases, and have earned a reputation for professionalism and competence. We have the experience, skill, and resources to ensure that our clients will obtain optimum representation in their wrongful death or accident claim.

Call (213) 271-9318 or contact us for a free consultation. For your convenience, our pool accident attorney make home and hospital visits throughout California.

[Written by Derek Pakiz. Article updated on 02/20/2024]