According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 3,308 unintentional drowning-related deaths in the United States in 2004 and as well as an estimated 5,000 unintentional drowning-related incidents each year.
These statistics are horrific and, in many cases, preventable. Kids are kids and will gravitate towards the cool blue water, where they see others playing, even if they know they cannot swim. Guards get distracted. Parents, assuming the lifeguards are doing their jobs, doze off or bury themselves in a book. All too often, we read in the paper about a child drowning at a public pool, while guards are on duty and there are literally hundreds of people around witnessing the event. And we wonder “how could this happen”?
Proving liability in a pool-related accident is similar to the way in which we prove liability in a motor vehicle or slip and fall case. The liability rests on acting reasonably. Was there a qualified lifeguard on duty? Were there enough lifeguards for the amount of swimmers? Were the lifeguards properly trained and certified? Was the pool safely and properly marked between deep and shallow ends? Were the parents themselves negligent? Are the homeowners at fault? Did the hosts even ascertain if the children could swim, or did they assume every kids wearing trunks could?
As summer comes to a close, I think back about the many cases I heard of this summer which could have been prevented. I hope next year will be different.