Whether developing an illness as a consequence of parasites in swimming pool water, or suffering an accident as a consequence of ill maintained facilities, there are many instances of negligence that swimming pool accident claims might be raised for. There is also a common misconception that incidents which occur overseas are somehow exempt from prosecution when this is not necessarily the case. So, whether swimming at your local pool, enjoying the many holiday water parks or relaxing in your hotel swimming pool, you may have a claim for compensation if you fall ill or have an accident.
Common Causes Of Swimming Pool Accident Claims
Badly maintained facilities are the most common cause of swimming pool accidents and illness that people might claim compensation for. Specific examples include:
- Defective pool drainage systems
- Defective water filtration systems
- Excessive chemical content
- Damaged tiles
- Badly signposted pool depths
This list is by no means inclusive but it does give you an idea of the issues many people face when using swimming pool facilities. There is always element of risk when using any swimming pool facility but that does not mean to say they should not be adequately maintained and supervised.
Common Injuries Occurring In Swimming Pools
Before we look at examples of common swimming pool related injuries it is worth noting that while swimming pool operators have a duty of care to users, individuals have a duty of care to themselves and other pool users. While in theory there may still be potential for partial negligence when an individual is injured as a consequence of their own activities, after taking into account the standard of facilities, it is unlikely full negligence would be granted in this situation. So, while swimming pool operators have a duty of care so do those using the facilities.
Some of the more common swimming pool injuries include:
Slips, Trips And Falls In Swimming Pools
It is not difficult to understand how these particular types of swimming pool accidents can occur especially on slippery pool sides. There are actions which can be taken to avoid instances of standing water but heavily used facilities will often attract standing water prompting the need for caution. In many cases simple warning signs should be suffice to fulfil duty of care obligations and make users aware of potential danger.
Cuts, Bruises And Lacerations
As far as actual injuries go there is no doubt that cuts, bruises and lacerations are the most common often as a consequence of loose poolside tiles or contaminated water. In the vast majority of cases these types of injury are fairly easy to treat but there is a risk of serious infection if treatment is delayed. We often underestimate the potential dangers of contaminated pool water with the presence of bacteria and parasites a major problem.
Head And Spinal Injuries
Where there is a swimming pool, water, and the opportunity to demonstrate your diving skills, this can prove to be too much of a temptation for many people. Unfortunately, head and spinal injuries are more commonplace than many of us imagine with dangerous manoeuvres often attempted in relatively shallow waters. This is one of the main occasions where pool depth warnings are essential and can negate any potential swimming pool accident claims in the event of an injury.
Contaminated Swimming Pool Water
Contaminated water in swimming pools can be a major problem because while there are various chemicals to counteract this issue, the constant introduction of new bodies and new substances can offer a potentially dangerous window of opportunity for contaminants to spread. Chlorine and other chemical disinfectants are used to combat this issue but bacteria and contaminants can reach dangerous levels on occasions.
Chemical Poisoning And Chemical Burns
Those operating swimming pool facilities should be well aware of the amount of chlorine (and other chemicals) required to ensure relatively clean water and the safety of swimmers. There may be occasions where a miscalculation or an unexpected spillage can introduce dangerously high levels of chemicals into a pool. This can result in chemical burns and chlorine poisoning which is generally fairly mild but will obviously depend upon the level of chemicals present.
Drain Suction Accidents
In order to ensure that a swimming pool is as clean as possible the water is drained, filtered and recycled. These relatively strong drain suction facilities are protected by an array of covers which when fitted correctly ensure swimmers can safely pass over them. However, we have seen instances of loose drain suction covers which have resulted in serious internal and rectal injuries. These sudden injuries can disorientate an individual and potentially lead to drowning.
The key to a safe and secure swimming pool revolves round informative warning signs, well-maintained facilities and regular checks on levels of chemicals and other substances in the water. Research shows that in some circumstances, for example unusually shaped swimming pools, it can be relatively difficult to gauge the depth without signs.
It is ironic that many people view swimming pool lifeguards as non-essential when in reality they have a major role to play in the safety of all swimming pool users. It is vital that lifeguards are trained to quickly notice and rescue individuals in difficulty and undertake potentially life-saving medical actions while the emergency services are called. When holidaying abroad the liability for negligence relating to swimming pool facilities will fall upon your tour operator as they have a legal obligation to ensure the facilities they are recommending to their customers are safe and secure.
Package Travel Regulations 1992
Under the terms of the Package Travel Regulations 1992 act it is the obligation of packaged holiday tour operators to ensure levels of health and safety abide by legal guidelines in holiday facilities used by their customers. The act takes into account not only swimming pool facilities but also the overall package, ensuring that life-saving equipment is to hand as and when required. As a consequence, holidaymakers who are injured because of negligence or ill maintained swimming pool facilities are able to pursue swimming pool accident claims through their tour operator.
This legal obligation to ensure that all facilities are safe and secure has led to less choice for many holidaymakers but safer facilities.
Proving Negligence In A Swimming Pool Accident Claim
When using swimming pool facilities, or visiting waterpark attractions, abroad, there may still be an opportunity to pursue compensation in the event that you suffer injury/illness. The same level of proven negligence will be required to pursue a swimming pool accident claim although it can be made a little more difficult if the facilities were not recommended by your tour operator and are based overseas. That is not to say it is impossible to pursue overseas claims of an independent nature but regulations may differ from those in the UK.
Obviously, where you have suffered an injury/illness as a consequence of either sub-standard swimming pool facilities or a dangerous waterpark attraction, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible. It is also imperative, especially in overseas situations, that you gather as much information and evidence as possible to support your claim. Many personal injury solicitors will advise you to inform those managing the facilities of your injury/illness at the time of the incident. It is also advisable to inform your tour operator of any such incidents and ensure that they have the relevant evidence and details for their records.
Legal Advice On Swimming Pool Accidents
If you have suffered a swimming pool accident and been injured you should get legal advice from a personal injury solicitor straight away providing them with details of your injury/illness and supporting medical evidence. If you contact us a solicitor will be able to advise you of the strength of your claim straight away, and if they believe you have a high chance of success in claiming compensation they can offer you a No Win No Fee arrangement. This effectively removes the liability to pay the legal costs of your solicitor whether or not your claim is successful. They will however request a “success fee” and will be an agreed a percentage of any subsequent damages awarded.
In cases where a tour operator is being pursued for compensation it should be relatively straightforward where negligence is proven. However, in instances where injury/illness occurred when using swimming pool facilities not recommended by the tour operator it can take a little more time to pursue a swimming pool accident claim. As far as the liability for tour operators, if it is proven that those operating the facilities were negligent in some shape or form then they will simply counter sue those parties for any compensation they are forced to pay out.
Compensation For Swimming Pool Accidents
It will depend upon the individual circumstances of each swimming pool accident claim but where negligence is proven beyond all reasonable doubt the claimant will likely be offered an out-of-court settlement. This will ensure that compensation is received in a timely manner and a defendant is able to minimise their legal costs and expenses. There will be instances where negligence is contested, or it may involve a more complex overseas situation/more than one potentially negligent party, at which point the case will go before a judge. They will make an informed ruling after taking into account evidence from both the claimant and defendant.
Types Of Compensation
When claiming compensation it is commonplace to make a claim for general damages as well as special damages. A soicitor can advise on what these are specifically but in brief general damages relate specifically to compensation for:
- Pain and suffering due to the swimming pool accident
- Life changing injuries
- Mental trauma
This type of compensation is open-ended in theory but the courts and insurance companies tend to base their rulings on Judicial College guidance. This guidance takes into account compensation awards for similar injuries in the past although there is scope for discretion/variation to reflect the individual circumstances of each swimming pool accident compensation claim.
The second type of damages is known as special damages and is purely and simply financial recompense for:
- Loss of earnings due to the swimming pool accident
- Future loss of earnings
- Medical expenses for injuries
- Future medical expenses
- Adaptions to living quarters
- Additional transport expenses
There is no degree of discretion or variation when it comes to special damages and any future funding requirements will be calculated using the experience of appropriate professionals.
Contact us today if you’ve suffered injury and require expert advice on swimming pool accident claims and what injury compensation you might be entitled to claim for.