Why Are Pools So Dangerous For Children?

Why Are Pools So Dangerous for Children?As the weather heats up, the approach of summer drawing ever nearer, we are beginning to think about getting our pools ready for summer parties and relief from hot summer days. However, while it is tempting to think only of the fun to be had, it is important to also seriously consider the safety measures that should be taken, whether that is setting up and monitoring your own pool or when you visit someone else’s pool.

Too many pool accidents and deaths happen every year, with those surviving often suffering from serious injuries that may cause lasting complications and conditions. If your child suffers injuries or tragically dies in a swimming pool-related accident, you and your family have legal options, and an experienced St. Louis attorney can help.

Who is at most risk for swimming pool accidents?

It will come as no surprise that children are the most at risk around pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.” Drowning is also the second-leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children ages one to 14, second only to automobile accidents.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report in June of 2021 called “Pool or Spa Submersion: Estimated Nonfatal Drowning Injuries and Reported Drownings.” It stated that between the years 2016 and2018, there were an estimated, on average, 397 pool-related fatalities every year. Of the fatal drownings reported in that period, 75 percent of those deaths were children under age five.

As we can see, children unfortunately suffer the most when it comes to pool accidents. They do not have the decision-making skills, the knowledge, or motor skills to properly conduct themselves around or in a pool.

Others who are at risk for pool accidents include males and people with certain medical conditions.

What injuries happen from St. Louis pool accidents?

A variety of serious injuries can happen when a child, or adult, suffers a pool- or water-related injury, including:

  • Drowning: Drowning occurs when your respiration is impaired by breathing water into the lungs. Not all drownings are fatal.
  • Non-fatal drowning: When someone survives a drowning, they may be left with no injuries, or severe injuries that can affect them the rest of their lives. Victims of non-fatal drownings often require hospitalization.
  • Fatal drowning: This is when the victim of a drowning does not survive their injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries: When the spine is injured, it often leads to paralysis. As the spine is the main path for the central nervous system, an injury can affect the other parts of the body. Complete spinal cord injuries result in the total lack of sensation and function of the body below the point of the injury. Incomplete spinal cord injuries leave the victim with some amount of sensation and function below the site of injury, but it is limited. These sorts of injuries happen often when a child slips while jumping into the pool or dives into a shallow pool.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: If your child slips and falls while running on the hard concrete ground surrounding a pool, they could likely suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from their accident. TBIs occur when the head is hit against a hard object or a hard object hits the head. The brain inside the skull is jostled, resulting in bruising and abrasions and leading to bleeding or swelling in the brain. Even a concussion should be monitored and treated by a medical professional as concussions are considered brain injuries. Symptoms of a TBI include confusion, dizziness, headaches, memory problems, periods of unconsciousness, vomiting, or amnesia.

Some injuries may heal with no problems, but serious injuries will have lasting effects. Brain injuries can leave the victim with limited functionality or emotional problems for the rest of their lives after their injury. Someone who suffers from a spinal cord injury may never walk again. These injuries can not only permanently affect the body, but the mind as well. The accident, the ensuing medical treatments, and the emotional toll of the lasting complications and conditions can scar a child emotionally, leaving them with post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?

Children are not held to the same standards of liability as adults, as they are unable to make decisions regarding their own safety. Even if they do not have children of their own, pool owners have a duty of responsibility to treat a trespassing child as an invitee to their property if the child has been drawn there by their pool. This is known as the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine.

While trespassing is illegal, when there is a feature on the property that is deemed attractive to children, it is the property owner’s duty to make their property as safe as possible, and provide proper warnings. If a child wanders into someone’s pool and drowns, that property owner can be liable for the child’s  injuries for not keeping their property safe and secure.

What is premises liability?

Related to the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine is premises liability. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure their property is safe for visitors and invitees, and those under the protection of the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. “Premises liability law goes into effect when a property owner is negligent in their duty to prevent an avoidable accident and, therefore, someone is harmed as a result.”

For example, if you and your family are visiting a friend’s or co-worker’s home for a barbeque, and your child slips and breaks their back on the slippery wood of the pool deck due to it being in disrepair, then you may be eligible to file a premises liability lawsuit against the homeowners.

Do I need a lawyer for my child’s St. Louis swimming pool accident?

If your child hurts themselves at someone’s house or at a public pool, our St. Louis attorneys can determine who or what was responsible. The experienced and compassionate team at The Hayden Law Firm is ready to advocate for you. Our clients are our number one priority. To schedule a consultation, call our offices at 314-480-3100 or fill out our contact form. We are based in St. Louis, Missouri, but our firm proudly serves clients throughout Missouri and Illinois.