Accidental Drownings, Swimming Pools, & The Law

Premises liability dictates the legal responsibility for property owners and accidents that take place on their land. Alabama law stipulates property owners must keep their property reasonably safe and free of hazards for visitors.

Swimming pools are always a potential danger, especially to young children. According to statistics compiled by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), 88% of children were under some form of supervision when they drowned. Of all the child drownings reviewed by the ADPH, 39% occurred in pools, 37% occurred in open bodies of water and 18% occurred in an around the home. These statistics were not limited to unsupervised children. In fact, the ADPH reports that most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

There are swimming pool rules and regulations that govern both public and private pool owners and operators in Alabama. Owners are obligated to adequately maintain their pools and properly supervise guests. Those injured by a pool or families who lose a loved one in a drowning accident may have grounds for filing a premises liability suit if the property owner failed to comply with applicable swimming pool rules and regulations.

Hazardous conditions involving swimming pools can include:

  • Failure to provide adequate warning signs around the pool
  • Lack of pool supervision (in the absence of a parent or guardian on site)
  • Failure to clear debris from walkways
  • Lack of fencing or pool covering
  • Failure to provide life-saving equipment (such as heaving lines)
  • Failure to routinely maintain pool (i.e., cleaning the pool to allow visibility of the bottom surface).

You may be able to hold not only private home owners liable with a suit but also hotels, municipalities, and other owners of public pools once an injury has occurred.

If you believe you have grounds for a lawsuit, you need to be aware that the statute of limitations (i.e., the time limit for filing a claim) is two years from the date of the accident. Once that two-year limit has passed, you will likely be forever barred from filing a lawsuit, which is why it is important to contact a Birmingham personal injury attorney as soon as possible to investigate your case.