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Swimming & Diving Injury

Phoenix swimming & diving accidents personal injury law firm

In Arizona, it is estimated that there are approximately 600,000-750,000 swimming pools.  Owning a pool can be a really fun recreational activity for everyone, but where the details of safety are not followed, a swimming pool can be a recipe for disaster.

Suffering a serious injury from a pool accident, or an accident at a hotel or motel swimming pool or jacuzzi can be a traumatic experience.  You may have suffered serious injuries that have changed your life, including the possibility of becoming a quadriplegic or suffering a serious brain or spinal cord injury.  Our law firm can help you if you or a loved one was injured, or worse, suffered a wrongful death relating to any of the following:

Top 5 most common swimming pool accidents:

a.  Near-drownings (ex. brain damage damage attributable to partial drowning);

b.  Drowning / wrongful death (ex. negligent lifeguard or camp counselors, over-serving alcohol);

c.  Slip and fall (ex. broken bones, fractures, and other injuries due to unsafe surfaces);

d.  Diving injuries / brain damage / broken bones (ex. diving into dangerously shallow waters causing catastrophic spinal injuries);

e.  Child drowning (ex. due to inadequate fence, wall, barriers, and/or gate laches in violation of Arizona swimming pool codes).

There are other types of injuries that could occur in and around a swimming pool, but these are some of the most common accidents that can arise.  There may be times when a defective pool design can also be a triable issue of fact.

What types of companies might be liable for swimming pool accidents, or drowning injuries in Arizona?

Some companies and individuals that might be responsible for wrongful death drowning or serious injuries that occur in and around swimming pools are:

  • Private homeowners
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Sports & fitness clubs
  • Health clubs
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Professional or amateur sports facilities
  • Property managers
  • Apartment complex
  • Condominium complex
  • Country clubs
  • Cruise lines
  • Resorts
  • Manufacturer of the pool or pool accessories (ex. defective product design, defective testing of pool or inflatable products, or out-of-ground pool products)
  • Others

Does Arizona have swimming pool rules and requirements for residential homeowners?

Yes.  See A.R.S. §36-1681.

A.R.S. § 36-1681 requires Arizona swimming pools be protected by an enclosure (ex. a wall, fence, or barrier) that surrounds the pool area. Also, unless a local code provides otherwise, the enclosure of a belowground or aboveground pool must:

  • Entirely enclose the pool area;
  • Be at least 5 feet high;
  • Have no openings other then doors or gates, through which an object 4 inches in diameter can pass;
  • Have no openings, handholds, or footholds accessible from the exterior side that can be used to climb the barrier; and
  • Be at least 20 inches from the water’s edge.

If, however, a residence or living area makes up part of the enclosure required by A.R.S. § 36-1681(B), there must be:

  • A wall, fence, or barrier located between the swimming pool or other contained body of water and the residence or living area that:
    • Has a height of at least four feet;
    • Has no openings through which a spherical object four inches in diameter can pass;
    • Has a gate that opens outward from the pool and is self-closing and self-latching;
    • Has no openings, handholds, or footholds accessible from the exterior side of the enclosure that can be used to climb the wall, fence, or barrier; and
    • Is at a distance of at least twenty inches from the water’s edge;
  • A motorized safety pool cover that requires a key switch and meets the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards in F1346-91 (www.astm.org);
  • For each door or window in the residence or living area that has direct access to the pool:
    • A self-latching device that is located not less then fifty-four inches above the floor; and
    • Either a screwed in wire mesh screen covering a dwelling or guest room window or a keyed lock that prevents a dwelling or guest room window from opening more then four inches; or
  • For an aboveground swimming pool, non-climbable exterior sides which are a minimum height of four feet and access ladders or steps that are removable and able to be secured when the pool is not in use.

Gate Requirements

According to A.R.S. § 36-1681(B)(3), any gate in either the five-foot-tall wall, fence, or barrier enclosing a pool or the four-foot-tall wall, fence, or barrier between the residence or other living area and a pool must:

  • Open outward from the pool
  • Be self-closing and self-latching; and
  • Have a latch:
    • Located at least fifty-four inches above the underlying ground;
    • Located on the pool side of the gate with the latch’s release mechanism located at least five inches below the top of the gate and no opening greater than one-half inch with twenty-four inches of the release mechanism; or
    • Located at any height if secured by a padlock or similar device which requires a key, electric opening, or integral combination.

As the Arizona Department of Environmental Health Services notes on their website:

“the state requirements contained in A.R.S. § 36-1681 may be superseded by local requirements that are equal to or more restrictive than the state requirements. Check with your local city and county governments to see if they have adopted different pool barrier requirements.”

When might you hold a lifeguard liable for a swimming pool injury or wrongful death?

Every circumstance is different and the facts of your case must be closely examined by an experienced personal injury law firm.  Some of the legal theories that have been asserted against lifeguards for injuries that occur at the beach, or near a swimming pool, (and against the companies that employ lifeguards) as as follows:

1.  Inadequate training – (ex. a lifeguard who got his or her training from an online course and was hired based on such minimal training).

2.  Negligent hiring – (ex. hiring a person to be a lifeguard when they do not have the knowledge, training or experience to properly protect and police the swimming pool and perform critical rescue procedures).

3.  Inadequate ongoing training – (ex. in order to be a competent professional in any field ongoing training is required).  In regards to being a lifeguard, there should be periodic training for CPR, rescue, and spinal injury backboard procedure).  There should also be training in regard to what the signs of drowning are (for example, some people believe that a drowning victim will waiver their arms and scream out for help).  This is not the case.  Someone who is drowning may look like they are playing in the water, and training to spot the real signs of drowning are critical.  A drowning victim is technically not able to keep their mouth above water, as such, it is extremely doubtful that they would waiver their arms or scream out for help.  They are drowning.  This is a hollywood myth, and as some drowning experts have pointed out that a drowning victim will not cry out for help or waive their arms for help.  So proper ongoing scientific training is absolutely required to meet the standard of care for a lifeguard.

4. Negligent supervision – (ex. failure to properly supervise the activity of the employee-lifeguard).

Again, the only way to know for sure whether or not you have a personal injury case against a lifeguard for negligence is to have your case reviewed.  Please fill out the form below.

Is a property management company ever liable for swimming pool or jacuzzi injuries?

This is another serious issue that relates to who the potential defendants in your case might be and what insurance policies might cover the swimming pool accident or wrongful death by drowning.  Some things that may raise issues of liability of a property manager are:

1.  Failure to properly fix or repair the pool or jacuzzi;

2.  Failure to ensure surface areas are reasonably safe;

3.  Failure to ensure warning signs are in place that adequately explain the risks and rules in clear, conspicuous and plain language;

4.  Using cheap, shoddy, or defective parts in swimming pool repairs;

5.  Contractual failure to perform (ex. inadequate lighting) or failure to follow statutory requirements (ex. electric work that is not “up to code” and results in electrocuting a swimmer).

Can a school, college or university ever be responsible to pay monetary damages for accidents that occur at a swimming pool or diving facility?

Yes.  It is possible (ex. diving injuries caused by the negligence of others, for example not filling the pool with enough water causing a serious diving injury).  “Torts” that occur outside the normal rules of sports (ex. a water polo player punches another player in the face committing an assault and battery).

These are some of the main areas of personal injury that might arise in regard to recreational or possibly professional swimming activities.  There may be other scenarios such as swimming pool injuries at school, or in amateur or professional swim meets, so feel free to contact our law firm to discuss your case.

Can you recover for your personal injury damages caused by a Jacuzzi accidents or hot water that burns your skin?

Yes.  We need to examine the facts of the case but if a commercial establishment overheats the jacuzzi or hot tube causing serious burns, or rashes, this might be actionable.

What are some possible defenses that might be used to deny your claim in a swimming pool personal injury case?

There are always defenses available to the insurance company or other Defendants who may seek to deny you a recovery.  Some of the common defenses that might be asserted against you are:

  • Assumption of the risk
  • Comparative negligence
  • Waiver of rights
  • Intoxication by the swimmer or diver
  • Statute of limitations
  • Failure to follow warning signs
  • Others depending upon the case

What type of damages can be recovered in a swimming pool accident case?

Every personal injury case is different, but in general the following types of remedies might be available in your swimming pool accident or wrongful death case:

  • Medical bills paid
  • Physical therapist bills paid
  • Chiropractor bills paid
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out-of-pocket losses
  • Punitive damages
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Future medical care
  • Other consequential damages

Our goal is to fight for every last dime necessary in a personal injury case and to secure a fair and adequate award.

What are some sample verdicts in swimming pool injury cases nationwide?

1.  12.4 million swimming pool verdict  (inadequate water level in diving injury even though pool had a “non-diving” sign)

2.  8.1 million to victim of diving injury (quadriplegic)

3.  Defective inflatable swimming pool slide injury victim awarded 21 million

4.  3.75 million awarded in wrongful death lawsuit involving swimming pool

5.  Student drowning due to inattentive instructor 6 million damages verdict (swimming teacher left class before free swim period ended, and student was a novice swimmer who drowned).

These results are by other law firms in other swimming accident cases.  These results do not mean that you will get the same or similar result in your swimming accident, personal injury, or wrongful death case.

Swimming Pool Injury Resources

1.  ADHS Office of Environmental Health “Pool Rules”

2.  Pool safety tips in Phoenix

Contact our Phoenix swimming pool and diving accident personal injury lawyers

Contact us for a free consultation and to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers.  We charge no fees unless we are successful in your personal injury case.  Call (877) 276-5084 or please fill out the form below.

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