In the Water and Out of Danger
June 22, 2020
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain
Pool Drowning Lawsuit in New Jersey
They are sprouting up everywhere: hot tubs, pools, and all kinds of water activities to keep the kids sane this summer. Demand is so high that some orders won’t come in until it is time to get the kids ready for the next school year!
Of course, this will make it one of the most memorable summers for our kids. But it also will lead to more tragic headlines and stories of adults who drowned while intoxicated, children left unsupervised while struggling in the water, or toddlers who wandered into a neighbor’s pool that didn’t have a fence.
The Center for Disease Control
Consider some of these facts from the CDC:
- Approximately 10 people drown every day from non-boating accidents.
- 2 of those drownings are of children who are 14 years of age or younger.
- Of the children who are 4 years of age or younger, their drownings usually happen in home pools.
- Nearly 80% of drowning victims are male.
- Approximately 70% of the drownings of teenagers and adults involve alcohol.
While putting a pool in the backyard is a gift to family and friends, it automatically increases the risk of death or non-fatal drownings which can lead to severe brain damage. And with increased risk comes increased responsibility on the homeowner.
Pool Drowning Lawsuit in New Jersey or Pool Injury Lawsuit:
If the unthinkable happens, the victim or the family of a victim who passed away can consider filing a pool drowning lawsuit.
The first thing to consider is how the victim ended up in the pool of the homeowner. Most victims who are non-family members are people who were invited over to the home. Those victims are usually known in New Jersey law as ‘social guests’.
Under New Jersey law, the homeowner does not have to make the home any safer for a social guest than for himself/herself. However, what if the homeowner doesn’t tell the guest about some dangerous condition with the pool? An example might be a homeowner who builds a diving board or deck above the pool without telling the guest, who is using the pool for the first time, that the pool is only 3 feet deep. The guest then dives in, severely injured her neck, and lies in the water without anyone noticing.
Other victims might be children who are attracted to a neighbor’s pool where it is easy to get into the water. In New Jersey, homeowners are generally not responsible to keep the home safe for people who are trespassing. However, there are some exceptions, such as where the trespasser is a child who is drawn to something on the property. A lawsuit where a child wandered into a neighbor’s pool and drowned when the homeowner did little to reduce that risk could make this argument in a lawsuit. According to the American Red Cross, it is a higher risk than we might think because 69% of young children who drown are not expected to be in or near water.
What about a situation where the pool is built and kept safely, but the adult guests drink too much to supervise the kids, or there are too many kids in the pool dunking each other in the water? What if the kids are not good swimmers and are shorter than the fill line? That situation is different because instead of arguing about whether the pool itself was safe, the pool drowning lawsuit would allege the homeowner allowed dangerous activity on the property. The homeowner has a duty to exercise reasonable care in making sure that activities on the property are done safely without injuring other guests.
The lawsuit might also allege that other adults at the home were negligent in supervising or coming to the rescue of the victim.
The Center for Disease Control lists the following as some of the factors to consider when trying to reduce risks for drowning:
- Not able to swim or being a poor swimmer.
- Poor fencing or no fencing.
- Lack of close supervision.
- Alcohol usage.
Of course, all of these make sense, but they can be quickly forgotten on a warm summer’s day when the adults are drinking, and the kids are in the water. If that is the plan, consider the American Red Cross’ recommendation to designate a water-watcher, such as a lifeguard for the day.
New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers
If you have a close friend or family member who was a victim of drowning or pool injury in someone’s home, and you want to file a pool drowning lawsuit, please feel free to contact our New Jersey personal injury lawyers for a free consultation to discuss the legal options.