Swimming Pool Accidents
There are over 10 million swimming pools in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are around 3500 swimming pool-related deaths each and every year. When looking at the numbers it is a wonder that the unfortunate number is relatively low. Perhaps this is due to the safety and caution that is normally taken when people are swimming. Despite our best intentions accidents and even wrongful death can still occur. It is our job as swimming pool injury attorneys to help the families and victims recover during these trying times.
What Are The Common Causes Of Swimming Pool Accidents?
For most people, it does not take much effort to find a swimming pool for some family fun. The list goes on from private pools, public pools, water parks, recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools. If the swimming pool is open to the general public laws and regulations require that a certain number of lifeguards must be one duty depending on the size of the pool and the number of swimmers. Whether the pool is public or privately owned, people need to take proper safety precautions and follow Utah’s safety regulations.
Swimming pool accidents are quite common and can be seen in the following forms:
• Someone slips while walking outside or around the pool area on the collected water.
• A person can be injured while using the diving board.
• Someone may suffer from drowning or a near-drowning experience.
• Brain injuries that can be caused by hitting their head on a hard surface.
Legal Representation for Swimming Pool Injuries
It is a complicated issue to properly determine who is at fault when a swimming pool incident occurs. Our attorneys use their vast experience to break down the situations of a case to help our clients understand where they are in the eyes of the law. Many times injuries and accidents are the results of the unsafe or neglectful behavior of the pool owner. Examples include a pool that is not properly secured or maintained or if small children in a pool are not being supervised. Many pool accidents happen when a swimmer falls, dives, or jumps into the pool and hits another person. A final major cause of injury or even death can arise when a swimmer becomes entangled or trapped in suction drains or other defective pool materials.
Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents
• Horsing around: Pools are meant to be fun, and both kids and adults love to jump in, splash around, and play all kinds of pool games. But you still have to obey certain safety protocols. Kids need to be taught that water can be just as dangerous as it is fun. Far too many people suffer slip and fall injuries around pools because they are running around. And if a pool is too shallow for diving, it is important that there are clear signs warning people not to jump in.
• Improper security. To keep small children and others safe, swimming pools must be outfitted with proper fencing or some kind of latched gate or door to prevent anyone from falling in and drowning.
What Causes Pool Accidents?
Property owners with swimming pools are responsible for providing a safe swimming area for both children and adults. If the property owner of a swimming pool in a house, condo, apartment, hotel, or any other private or public entity fails to create a safe swimming environment, they can be held legally accountable for any injuries or deaths sustained in the swimming pool. Some of the most common causes of swimming pool accidents include diving board accidents, inadequate warning signs or fencing, a lack of supervision, a lack of lifeguards or improperly trained lifeguards, no swimming pool cover, a faulty valve, drain, or another swimming pool component and water that is too shallow.
Swimming pool accidents fall under an area of law called premises liability. In Utah, you may have an accident injury claim if the following can be proved:
• The property owner or a responsible party for the swimming pool owed you a duty of reasonable care,
• The property owner or responsible party for the swimming pool breached this duty through either careless action or careless inaction,
• There was an injury to you proximately caused by this breach, and
• You suffered damages (monetary and non-monetary) from this injury.
Essentially we are trying to determine if the property owner was negligent and if that negligence caused your injury. Negligence around swimming pools could include:
• Defective parts in the pool or around the pool
• Missing safety marks that denote shallow versus deep ends of the pool
• Malfunctioning or defective diving boards
• Inadequate pool maintenance
• Inadequate pool lighting
• Missing safety equipment
• Improperly trained pool staff (or absent pool staff)
• Damaged or absent pool ladders
How Can I Prevent Pool Accidents?
Each year we hear about more and more accidents involving children and pools. In addition to our blog post about preventing pool accidents, we have gathered the below resources for you to consider.
• The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has created PoolSafety.gov, which is a great resource for families. It provides information about pool standards and regulations in an easily accessible fashion. If you’re considering putting in a residential pool, hot tub, or spa, you may want to take a look at their tips and guidelines for improving safety for both adults and children.
Pool Drowning Laws
There are laws in place, at the federal and state level, that intend to prevent wrongful injuries or death and to serve justice when either of those do occur. Utah code provides the “minimum standards for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of public pools” which does not include:
• private pools
• public pools built in accordance with the law during the time it was built (unless the executive director or the local health officer deems the pool unsafe)
• any body of water larger than 30,000 square feet
• pools designed for activities other than swimming, wading, bathing, diving, a water slide splash pool, or children’s water play activities
• float tanks
While it’s true that Utah law only sets specific guidelines for public pools, caution should be taken with privately owned pools, especially for those with children. Private pool owners who are neglectful of maintaining safety may be found liable for the injuries or death of a child on their properties through the attractive nuisance doctrine. To brush up on the recommended safety standards for privately owned pools, read Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) or visit our “Pool Drowning Resources” page. The rest of this article will focus on how Utah regulations that relates to pool drowning. Pool Shell Giving Swimmers a way to approximate a pool’s depth is an important step to reducing the risk of drowning. Because of this, the pool shell (or body of the pool) of a public pool must either be white or a light pastel color.
In addition, pool shells must be made of materials that are “non-toxic to humans, impervious, and enduring over time.” Finally, the interior surface of a pool must be crack free and must be made of material that is easily cleaned, non-abrasive, slip resistant, and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).Bather Load The bather load is legally defined as “the number of persons using a pool at any one time or specified period of time”. The limitation on a public pool is determined as follows:
• Spa pool: ten square feet per bather
• Indoor swimming pool: twenty-four square feet per bather
• Outdoor swimming pool: twenty square feet per bather
• Slide plunge pool: fifty square feet per bather
Floor Slope, Walls, and Diving In water that is less than 5 feet, the horizontal slope may not be steeper than 1 to 10 (horizontal to vertical feet). In water that is greater than 5 feet the horizontal slope may not exceed a ratio of 1 to 3. Scuba diving training pools are an exception to both of these requirements. Walls must be vertical and may not have ledges unless approved by the local health officer for a special purpose pool. Seats and benches are allowed, but must not be more than 20 inches below the water line. For diving, the depth of the pool area is determined by the height of the diving platform. When the Platform is not in use, it must be locked, covered or otherwise barred from use. Areas of the pool that do not allow diving must have a sign with “no diving” or the international no diving icon in four inch lettering every 25 feet. Ladders, Recessed Steps, and Stairs Utah code states that “steps or ladders must be provided, and be located in the area of shallowest depth.” If a pool is over 30 feet wide it must have steps or ladders on both of the side walls of the pool. Steps and ladders must be located within 15 feet of the diving-area-end wall. All pools must have two means of entry and exit and, if any of the entries are steps, they must also have handrails. Recessed steps must also have handrails that reach over the edge of the deck.
Decks and Walkways Utah code specifies that “A continuous, unobstructed deck at least 5 feet wide must extend completely around the pool.” The deck must be elevated from the water level at a maximum of 19 inches and a minimum of 4 inches. The deck is required to slope away from the pool towards drains that do not return to the pool water. Wooden decks are prohibited (R392-302-13).
Fencing all pools must have a fence of at least 6 feet surrounding the complete perimeter of the pool. Utah law specifies that this fence “may not permit a sphere greater than 4 inches” through any part of the fence. The door for the gate must be self-closing, self-latching, and require a key, electronic sensor, or combination to be opened.
Lighting, Ventilation, and Electrical Requirements A public pool may not be used during the night unless the local health officer grants an exemption. Swimming is permitted where the parts of the pool—including the deepest parts—and the deck are lit. All electric wiring “must conform with Article 680 of the National Fire Protection Association 70: National Electrical Code 2005 edition” (R392-302-23). To read more about pool drowning accidents,
Swimming pools provide an attractive way of enhancing your home and garden. They provide fun for all the family and friends, not to mention health benefits. They also provide a great focal point for garden parties, barbecues and other social gatherings.
Do I Need Planning Permission?
Planning Permission is not required subject to the following limits and conditions:
• No building, enclosure, pool or container forward of the principal elevation fronting a highway.
• Buildings are to be single story with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 feet and maximum overall height of 4 feet with a dual pitched roof or 3 feet for any other roof.
• Maximum height 2.5 feet within 2 feet of a boundary.
• No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
• Maximum 50% coverage of land (i.e. garden) around the original house can be covered by additions or other buildings.
• In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers or pools more than 20 feet from the house to be limited to 10 square feet.
• On designated land (includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites), buildings, enclosures, containers or pools at the side of properties will require planning permission.
• Within the surroundings of listed buildings any outbuilding will require planning permission.
It is recommended that you contact the local authorities to ascertain whether you require consent. The rules governing swimming pools apply equally to outbuildings, sheds, greenhouses and garages as well as ponds, sauna cabins, kennels and many other structures incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house. Outdoor swimming pools do not generally require planning permission unless you are in an area of outstanding natural beauty, green belt, listed building or a conservation area. If you do come under one of these categories then contact your planning office for advice. Indoor swimming pools will be subject to planning and building control applications. This includes new builds and change of use etc. It is advisable for all indoor or commercial pools to commission an architect to prepare a basic set of drawings for an outline planning application. This will not only facilitate the planning and building control applications process but will allow the main contractor and/or the swimming pool contractor to provide estimates and a specification for the enclosure, the swimming pool and the plant equipment required in the pool hall.
Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need legal help with a swimming pool accident in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506