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Staying Safe in the Water This Summer

Staying Safe in the Water This Summer

July 14, 2022 | Personal Injury

Usually, swimming pool drownings are the primary issue in this area. That’s still the case. But as New Yorkers still struggle to recover from coronavirus, more people are paying attention to bacterial infections.

No one is sure how many such outbreaks occur during summer.

The reported numbers only make up “a fraction of what is actually happening out there,” noted Michele Hlavsa, chief of the C.D.C.’s Healthy Swimming Program.

Most people don’t immediately go to the doctor when they get sick, and the waterpark is usually far from home, she explained.

Resort pools are even dirtier than other swimming pools. Hot tubs are the worst.

These sources cause about 70 percent of all infections.

Dr. Allen Perkins, a family medicine doctor at the University of South Alabama, advised people to just use common sense in order to stay safe.

He recalled a patient that had a serious sinus infection. “Turns out he had made a bet that he could snort an oyster up his nose,” he said. “Don’t do that.”

Swimming Pool Drownings

Other than birth defects, unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death for children under four. Unintentional drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death for children between 5 and 14.

A few moments under the water causes hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain).

When the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it starts shutting down parts of the body.

The process begins with areas like fingers and toes. The shutdown quickly moves to more vital organs.

Ironically, swimming pool drownings are more common when pools are crowded.

All adults assume another adult is watching the children. Kiddie pools aren’t much safer than adult pools. A young child can drown in only a few inches of water.

Usually, landowners are financially responsible for drowning injuries, if they had a legal duty to protect people and they knew about the injury-causing issue.

The legal duty usually depends on the victim-owner relationship, as follows:

  • Invitee: People like waterpark patrons, social guests, and apartment tenants are invitees. These individuals have permission to be on the property. Their presence also benefits the owner, financially or non-financially. Therefore, the owner has a duty of reasonable care to ensure safety.
  • Licensee: Guests of apartment tenants are licensees. Such people have permission to be on the land, because the owner doesn’t care if they’re there or not. However, there’s no benefit to the owner. Therefore, owners have a lower legal responsibility.
  • Trespasser: Usually, if there’s no permission and no benefit, there’s no legal duty. Certain loopholes, like the attractive nuisance rule and the continuous trespasser rule, protect some victims in some cases.

The duty of care may vary, but knowledge of hazard is persistent in these cases. Drowning is always a danger.

Similar principles apply in informal swimming areas, like lakes and ponds.

The aforementioned continuous trespasser rule often comes up in these situations.

If Ben owns a lake and his neighbors often sneak over for a swim, he has a legal duty to protect them, although they’re technically trespassers.

Warning signs, like “No Lifeguard on Duty,” make it more difficult, but certainly not impossible, for a New York personal injury attorney to obtain compensation in these matters.

This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Swimming Pool Poisonings

The duty/knowledge analysis also applies to many swimming pool poisoning claims. A defective product could cause such issues as well.

To keep pools clean and bacteria-free, owners must use chlorine and other harsh chemicals.

If there are too many cleaning chemicals in the pool, swimmers could sustain chemical burns, especially to their ears, noses, and throats. These burns are very difficult to treat.

Conversely, if the chemical level is too low, dangerous bacteria grows and multiplies. The resulting infections are especially dangerous for people with certain pre-existing conditions.

Issues with the pool mechanism could also cause swimming pool poisonings.

For example, if the pump isn’t working properly, the chlorine and water mix to form clouds of poisonous gas.

Usually, manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries in such cases. There’s no need for a victim/plaintiff to establish duty and knowledge.

There’s some additional overlap in these two areas. A defective product could also cause drownings.

If a drain isn’t working right, it could cause a riptide that literally sucks people under the water.

In addition to the aforementioned compensatory damages, defective product injury victims usually receive additional punitive damages.

These damages punish companies that recklessly put profits before people.

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees and only recover a fee when we win your case.

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