Tucson Drowning and Pool Accident Lawyers
With the hot temperatures in Tucson, many residents enjoy having swimming pools so that they can relax and socialize while they cool off. Unfortunately, some people are injured or die in swimming pool and drowning accidents every year in Pima County. Tragically, many of the victims of swimming pool accidents are children. If your loved one has fallen victim to a swimming pool accident on the premises of another person or business, the Tucson drowning lawyers at Lamber Goodnow might be able to help. We are a team of personal injury lawyers who aggressively fight for our clients and who have years of experience. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients.
Drowning accident statistics
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 81 Arizonans suffered accidental drownings in 2015. The agency reports that 29 of the 78 people who drowned in the state in 2014 were children. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an average of 3,536 people drown each year in accidents that are unrelated to boating. Twenty percent of the people who die from drowning each year are children who are under the age of 14. Of the victims who suffer nonfatal injuries and are treated in the emergency room, more than half are hospitalized or have to be transferred in order to receive additional care.
Causes of swimming pool and drowning accidents
Each year, people in Tucson and Pima County are devastated by the loss of their loved ones in swimming pool and drowning accidents. Some of the most common causes of these accidents include the following:
- Not being able to swim
- Slipping and falling on the pool deck
- Not using life jackets
- Panicking in the water
- Allowing children to be unattended at or near pools
- Allowing children to roughhouse in or near the water
- Not having an enclosure around the pool
- Consuming alcohol near or in water
Because of the drowning risks, the state has laws in place that swimming pool owners must follow in order to minimize the risks of drowning accidents.
Laws governing pool safety
The Arizona Legislature passed a law for pool enclosures to try to reduce the incidence of drowning in the state. Under A.R.S. § 36-1681, pool owners who own inground or above-ground pools that contain a depth of 18 inches of water or more must be completely enclosed by a fence that is at least five feet high. The fence or barrier cannot contain any openings through which a 4-inch object can be passed through. The fence or wall must have a self-latching and locking gate with the latch located at least 54 inches off of the ground or on the pool-side of the gate. The gate must open away from the pool, and the fence must be a minimum of 20 inches away from the edge of the water. The fence cannot contain any openings that can be used as handholds for climbing. These rules do not apply to public swimming pools.
While this law helps to prevent some drownings, it is important for people to understand that many of these tragic accidents happen when adults fail to adequately supervise children who are in or near the water. When children are swimming, the adults should supervise them at all times and should not leave them alone even for a few minutes such as to talk on the phone. Adults should take turns supervising the children so that they always under supervision when they are playing in the water. Adults also drown, and they should avoid drinking alcohol when they are in or near water. They should also have strict rules in place about not running on the pool decks or playing roughly in the water.
Understanding premises liability
In most swimming pool accidents, the Tucson drowning attorneys at Lamber Goodnow proceed with claims under the theory of premises liability. Landowners owe duties of care to people who are present to keep their premises reasonably safe and free from hazards. The duties that are owed differ depending on the status of the people who enter the property. For visitors who are customers of a business with a private pool such as a private club or a hotel, the owners owe duties of care to warn them of any dangers about which they know or should have known. They also must take proactive steps to correct dangerous situations that exist. For example, if there is a broken pool ladder at a hotel, the hotel owner should warn the guests and promptly replace it.
Both business and residential pool owners also owe duties of care to their guests and others who have permission to come onto their property for non-business purposes. They must warn their guests of any hazards that are not obvious such as loose tiles and other issues.
Generally, property owners owe very limited duties of care to trespassers on their property. They normally will not be liable to trespassers on their property for their injuries unless they cause them intentional injuries such as by setting traps for them. One important exception to this rule is for child trespassers who come onto the property because of an inability to resist an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool.
Attractive nuisance doctrine
Arizona follows the attractive nuisance doctrine for man-made items that are located in people’s yards such as pools. In Giacona v. Tapley, the Arizona Court of Appeals adopted the definition of an attractive nuisance that is found in Sect. 339 of the (Second) Restatement of Torts. That case involved a five-year-old boy who trespassed into a neighboring swimming pool while he was visiting Arizona with his family and drowned. The court held that the pool owners could be liable because of problems with their fence and adopted the attractive nuisance doctrine as it applies to residential swimming pools. Pool owners and possessors may be held to be liable under the attractive nuisance doctrine if the following elements can be proven:
- There is an artificial condition such as a swimming pool that the owner or possessor knows is likely to attract children;
- The owner or possessor knows or should know that the condition presents a substantial risk of serious injury or harm to trespassing children;
- Because of their immaturity and ages, the children do not understand the risks of coming onto the property to play with or around the attractive nuisance;
- The benefits from the attractive nuisance to the owner or possessor are substantially less than the dangers that are presented to trespassing children; and
- The owner or possessor did not take steps to protect the children or to eliminate the potential danger.
The Tucson drowning lawyers may prove the liability of pool owners by showing that their enclosures do not comply with the state’s law, that they left the gates unlocked or opened or that they failed to supervise visiting children who were swimming in the pool. They may also prove liability under other scenarios, depending on the individual facts of a case.
Contact the Tucson drowning law firm of Lamber Goodnow
Drownings and swimming pool accidents can be devastating to the families of the victims. If your loved one has been seriously injured or has been killed in a swimming pool accident, the Tucson drowning attorneys at Lamber Goodnow might be able to help. Call us today to learn more about your potential claim.