In Florida, people can enjoy swimming pools pretty much all year round. Since many people visit Florida to get away from cold weather, the swimming pool at a hotel, motel, or resort can be the first attraction of a family vacation for kids and families. Unfortunately, children and teens are susceptible to drowning and other swimming pool related accidents. When your kid is hurt or worse at a swimming pool, a family vacation can quickly turn into a nightmare.
We all know water is dangerous. Hotels, motels, and resorts know water is dangerous too. So, who is liable when your child drowns at a hotel, motel, or resort pool? Is this something the hotel, motel, or resort should be responsible for?
Swimming Pool Drowning Statistics
According to the CDC, more children between the ages of 1 and 4 die from drowning than from any other cause of death. Additionally, for children between the ages of 5 and 14, drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths, just behind automobile accidents.
Every year in the United States, there are roughly 4,000 fatal drownings, which is around 11 drowning deaths each day. In addition to the fatal drownings, there are roughly 8,000 nonfatal drownings each year in the United States. This means there are around 22 nonfatal drownings per day.
Although many drowning accidents occur at private pools or at private locations, roughly a quarter of all drowning accidents occur at public places. Thus, a quarter of all drowning accidents occur at places like hotels, motels, resorts, and water parks.
Nonfatal Drowning Accidents Cause Serious Damage
The worst result of a drowning accident is death. Nothing could be worse than losing a child. However, even if your child does not die as a result of drowning, the damage caused by drowning can be severe. Namely, drowning can cause brain damage and other serious and permanent injuries related to oxygen deprivation. Drowning can even cause a child to suffer a long-term disability or brain damage.
For every child that dies as a result of drowning, 7 children require emergency care and medical treatment. Of the children that need emergency care for drowning-related injuries, roughly 40% of them require hospitalization. Thus, although many children die as a result of drowning accidents, many more children are seriously injured in drowning accidents.
Is a Hotel, Motel, or Resort Liable When a Child Drowns at the Pool?
Hotels, motels, and resorts are responsible for keeping the premises free from any unreasonable risks of harm or danger in Florida. Water that is deep enough to drown someone is the quintessential risk of danger for children. Thus, during those times when the hotel, motel, or resort allows folks to enter the pool and surrounding areas, that hotel, motel, or resort needs to make sure the premises is free from hazards. The best way to do this is to have a trained lifeguard on duty. However, not all pools must have a lifeguard on duty. We’ve all seen the signs that say, “No Lifeguard on Duty.” So how do we know if the hotel, motel, or resort is liable for a drowning at a swimming pool?
One of the most straightforward ways to hold a hotel, motel, or resort liable for swimming pool related deaths is to show that the hotel failed to comply with safety laws and safety rules. For example, a hotel may be held liable if its pool lacked the proper safety equipment, like a ladder, and someone drowned as a result. Similarly, someone might be able to hold a resort liable if it had a diving board that was improperly maintained or unreasonably dangerous and a child drowned as a result. Also, a person might hold a motel liable for a swimming pool accident if the child slipped and fell on a slippery surface and got knocked unconscious before falling into the pool.
Additionally, just because a hotel, motel, or resort posts a warning that there is no lifeguard on duty, they are not automatically off the hook. If conditions persist that warrant the hotel, motel, or resort hiring a lifeguard, a simple sign is likely not going to be sufficient. In other words, putting up a sign does not always absolve a hotel, motel, or resort of its responsibility to provide a safe premises to its guests.
Drowning Accident Lawsuit Against a Hotel, Motel, or Resort
A pool accident or drowning accident lawsuit is a type of premises liability claim. The premises liability claim is based on negligence. Specifically, the argument is that the hotel, motel, or resort acted negligently, and your child drowned as a result. Hence, to prove a case of premises liability against a hotel, motel, or resort for your child’s death or injuries that resulted from drowning at a pool, you would need to prove the following elements:
- The hotel, motel, or resort owed its guests (including your child) a duty;
- The hotel, motel, or resort breached that duty;
- Your child suffered damages, such as injury or death; and
- The breach was the cause of your child’s injury or death.
These elements of duty, breach, damages, and causation are a common theme in all accidents and injuries based on negligence, as well as wrongful death cases. Proving a premises liability case when a child is injured or killed in a pool accident will often boil down to the element of breach. In other words, we know the hotel, motel, or resort owes its guests a duty to provide a premises free from unreasonable risks of harm. Additionally, if a child drowns in a pool, the elements of damages and causation are clear. The child died or was hurt, and the drowning caused those damages. Thus, the real question is whether the hotel, motel, or resort did something it should not have done or didn’t do something it should have done.
Common Types of Negligence That Cause Pool Accident-Related Injuries or Death at Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
As we discussed above, the element of breach is going to be a critical piece of the puzzle when determining whether a hotel, motel, or resort is liable for a child drowning at a swimming pool. Although each case is unique, there are several common types of negligence that seem to occur more often than others in drowning accidents at hotels, motels, and resorts. Below are some of the types of negligence we see most often:
- Guests commonly using the pool outside of hours, and the hotel, motel, or resort knew about it and did not provide security or try to stop it;
- The pool lacked posted hours of operation;
- The pool did not have a lifeguard on duty;
- The pool had a faulty ladder;
- The pool lacked markings to show depth;
- The lifeguard on duty was improperly trained or absent in a time of need; or
- The pool was unreasonably slippery, which caused a guest to slip and get knocked unconscious.
There are so many things that can go wrong in or around a swimming pool that could cause a child to drown. The list above is by no means a complete list. Thus, if your child drowned at a pool at a hotel, motel, or resort and died or suffered injuries, you may have a viable premises liability claim, regardless of whether the specific act of negligence is listed above.
Schedule Your FREE Consultation with Our Drowning Accident Lawyers
If your child died or suffered injuries as a result of a drowning accident, you may be able to hold the hotel, motel, or resort liable. Regardless of whether you want to pursue a claim, we are happy to give you a free consultation and talk with you about what happened. A call with one of our drowning accident lawyers is risk free to you and could provide some much-needed clarity about your rights and potential options.
Here’s the next step in pursuing a claim: Call us today at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your free legal consultation, or you can contact us on our website to schedule your consultation via email. Once you have a chance to speak with one of our drowning accident lawyers, you can decide how to proceed. If you want to pursue a claim, we can send over the paperwork by email and get your signature, and then we can get to work on your case immediately. We’re here when you need us.