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Swimming Pool Injuries: Who is Responsible?

Swimming pools can be a great source of fun for many families across America. What could be more satisfying than a relaxing swim in the water during the sweltering summer months? Whether it’s in their own backyard or in a beautiful resort, pools are the perfect way for families to cool off and enjoy each other’s company. However, even this favorite leisurely active can pose some serious risk of injury, particularly for small children.

Unfortunately, swimming pool injuries are a common occurrence. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that drowning is the number 1 cause of injuries and fatalities for children aged 1 to 4. In particular, the CPSC report found that an average of 390 drowning-related fatalities happened annually between the years 2007 and 2009 for children aged 14 and younger.

The CPSC also report that there have been about 5,200 pool-related injuries that required emergency medical attention for children aged 15 and younger during 2009 until 2011. In these cases, the most common injuries include disembowelment, evisceration and other near-drowning injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are also common in pool-related accidents. This usually happens when the child slips on water outside the pool and falls to the ground, or when the child dives into the pool and hits their head on the floor.

These accidents are obviously very alarming, especially when we consider the fact that swimming is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. Is there a way to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future? Is there a way to curb these alarming numbers?

Depending on which state you live, there are several policies that the government has imposed to make sure swimming pools are safe for use. Usually, these policies apply for the quality of equipment used by the pool’s manufacturer and installers. The property owner is also held responsible for maintaining the safety of their swimming pool. According to this personal injury website, these property owners can be held accountable for their premises. If they are proven to have been negligent in making sure that their swimming pool is safe, victims may have the option to seek out just compensation.

What Exactly Constitutes a Failure to Warn?

Product liability comes in many forms, including when a product has a defective design or was manufactured improperly such that it has the potential to cause harm to the consumer or user. In some cases, though product liability lawsuits claim that the manufacturer failed to warn adequately about the risks associated with the use of product even if there is no design or manufacturing defect. In such cases, the product warning is the one that is defective.

Not all products are required to have a warning label, although manufacturers do still include them just be on the safe side of civil litigation. A product which is safe when used in accordance with its intended purpose or circumstances does not usually require warning labels. A warning is required when:

  • The product is inherently dangerous i.e. run by electricity even when used properly
  • The manufacturer knows that the product presents a risk of harm
  • The risk of harm is not obvious (hidden dangers) to a reasonable person

There are many products that may qualify under these parameters, but perhaps the most common type is pharmaceutical preparations. The average person is typically not aware of the composition of even over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or cough syrup, and when taking them are contraindicated (not recommended). In one case, a child who was allergic to an ibuprofen product formulated for children suffered very severe reactions that resulted in brain damage, blindness, and loss of most of her skin. The product included the standard warning to discontinue use if there is an allergic reaction, but did not state how bad the side effects could get. The drug company was found liable for failing to adequately warn and the child’s family was awarded $63 million in damages.

If you suffered serious harm because you were not given adequate instructions on how to avoid it when using a product, you could have a defective warning case against the manufacturer. Consult with a product liability lawyer for an insight into your situation.