If you live in the Sunshine State, there’s a good chance you spend time at a pool—either your own, a friend’s, or at a public facility. We’re lucky enough to have warm weather year-round, and swimming is a great way to cool off and stay active.  A visit to a pool should be relaxing, fun, and, most of all, safe. Sadly, pool accidents happen more often than you think.

According to the state’s Department of Health, Florida has the highest rate of drownings in the U.S. for children aged one to four, and the second-highest rate for children aged one to 14. While these statistics are unfortunate, they don’t tell the whole story of pool accidents in Florida. Adults and teenagers drown, too. And while devastating, drownings are not the only pool-related accidents that can have lifelong effects.

A Floridian involved in a motorcycle accident fills out their injury claim form.

The Cliff Notes: Key Takeaways From This Post

  • 1
    Florida has the highest rate of drownings in the US for children aged 1-4 and second-highest for those aged 1-14.
  • 2
    Types of pool accidents in Florida include near drownings, slip and falls, hair/body parts pulled into drains & suction outlets, waterborne diseases, head injuries due to pushing/falling.
  • 3
    Pool accident risks are higher for males, people 75+ and children under 4.
  • 4
    At fault parties can include homeowners (failure to meet safety requirements as per FL Statute Chapter 515), commercial pool owners/operators/caretakers (not meeting health standards) and pool part manufacturers (for producing defective products).
  • 5
    Tips to prevent pool accidents: learn how to swim; get certified in CPR/First Aid; no horseplay; use well-lit/supervised commercial pools; designate a lookout for home pools; have multiple safety features installed; clean off pool covers regularly; stay sober when around pools.
  • 6
    Knowing the law, speaking with an attorney re: settlement offer, & seeking compensation if appropriate after a pool accident is important.

Types of pool accidents in Florida

An accident can happen in a matter of seconds and change your life forever. In addition to drowning, some of the most common pool accidents are:

  • Near drownings
  • Slip and falls in the area around the pool due to improper maintenance or needed repairs
  • Hair and body parts being pulled into drains and suction outlets due to broken, missing, or malfunctioning covers
  • Acquiring a waterborne disease like E. coli or Cryptosporidium due to ineffective or inadequate chlorine maintenance
  • Hitting one’s head on the side or bottom of the pool after being accidentally or deliberately pushed in the pool

These accidents can result in spinal cord injuries, brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, broken bones, intestinal damage, and even loss of life.

Who is at risk for a pool accident?

Anyone, of any age, who is in or around a pool is at risk for an accident. However, some populations are more susceptible. In 2012, the Florida Department of Health reported that males accounted for 72% of drownings and near-drowning hospitalizations. And while children four or under account for many accidents, there is also an increased risk for adults aged 75 and older.

When pool accidents happen, who is at fault?

Pool accidents are often the result of someone’s — either an individual’s or a company’s — negligence or careless actions. This is called being “at fault.” To pursue a pool accident settlement, you must be able to prove another party was at fault. Who is found to be at fault depends on (1) where the accident took place; and (2) what factors attributed to the accident. In a pool accident in Florida, at-fault parties could be:

Homeowners

Even though it is private property, Florida homeowners are required to keep their pools safe and in good working order. These laws are found in Chapter 515 of the Florida Statutes, The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. According to these laws, at least one of the following safety features must be present at a private pool:

  • A barrier, such as a fence, that separates the house from the pool and meets the specific guidelines set forth in Chapter 515.29
  • An approved safety pool cover
  • All doors and windows that provide direct access to the pool must have exit alarms that have a “minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dB A at 10 feet”
  • Any doors that provide direct access to the pool must be self-closing, self-latching, and have a release mechanism (i.e., a handle) “no lower than 54 inches above the floor”
  • A swimming pool alarm that meets ASTM Standard F2208, Standard Safety Specification for Residential Pool Alarms

State law takes these safety measures seriously. Even in the absence of any pool accidents or injuries, failing to have one of these measures in place is a misdemeanor.

If an accident occurred and the homeowner failed to have one of these safety features in place, they could be at fault for a pool accident.

Commercial Pool Owners, Operators, And Caretakers

Commercial pools in places like spas, resorts, and hotels also have safety requirements.

  • The pool caretaker must maintain a daily log, as required by the FL Department of Health
  • Pool operators need to ensure the pool is never overcrowded
  • Public pools and spas must have anti-entrapment devices on drain covers
  • Pools that are open during nighttime hours must be adequately lit

These are just some of the requirements in place for public pools in Florida. The bottom line is, just as with private pools, public pools and the area surrounding them must be safe.

Pool, Pool Parts, And Safety Device Manufacturers

Manufacturers have a responsibility to produce safe and effective products. Incidents, where a manufacturer may be liable for a pool accident in Florida, include:

  • Malfunctioning door and window alarms that do not go off when activated
  • Drain covers that do not stay on or break under normal circumstances
  • A defective pool cover

Every pool accident, and any resulting injuries, are unique. After careful review, an experienced personal injury attorney in Florida can tell you if you have a legal case.