Public and private swimming pools in South Carolina pose a risk of accidental drowning and other injuries, especially to children who do not understand their danger. Pool owners have a legal duty to protect the safety of guests and to safeguard their pools from unauthorized use. Individuals who are injured or the families of those killed in pool accidents due to the negligence of property owners may seek compensation for their losses through a civil claim.
The swimming pool accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm have helped people throughout South Carolina for more than 50 years. Our partners have both been named Super Lawyers and five Joye Law Firm attorneys were recently selected by their legal peers for inclusion among the Best Lawyers in America® in personal injury.
Call Joye Law Firm if you or a loved one has been injured in a swimming pool accident in South Carolina. We can file a swimming pool injury lawsuit on your behalf and help you seek full compensation to pay the costs of medical bills, lost wages and other losses caused by the accident.
Who is Liable for Swimming Pool Accidents and Injuries in South Carolina?
Claims arising from swimming pool accidents are included under premises liability law, which holds property owners responsible for accidents in their buildings and on their property. A property owner may be held liable for injuries suffered by people on their premises legally if the property owner allowed a hazard to exist and did not take steps to correct it or adequately warn visitors of its existence. A property owner is given a reasonable amount of time to repair a hazard before someone is hurt.
In most cases, premises liability obligations apply to guests who are expressly or implicitly invited to a property, such as to use a swimming pool. Trespassers typically do not have the basis to file a claim, but there is an exception.
South Carolina law recognizes that young children are naturally drawn to pools and children may not have the maturity or judgment to recognize the danger posed by an unguarded swimming pool. The law refers to public and private pools as presenting an “attractive nuisance.” This doctrine holds that property owners have a higher standard of duty to secure their pool to keep children out when not invited and supervised.
A South Carolina swimming pool owner must meet a variety of legal requirements, such as securing the pool behind a fence with a locking gate. Public pools must comply with additional regulations for the number of lifeguards on duty, warning signs, lifesaving equipment, and more.
When an accident occurs at a private or public pool and someone is significantly injured, the pool owner may be held liable if it can be shown that the owner neglected his or her legal obligations toward guest safety or securing the pool. This also applies to accidents not connected to swimming, such as slip-and-fall accidents on a swimming pool deck or grounds.
However, if visitors are injured because of their own negligence or recklessness, they may not have a claim. For example, at a smaller pool with water depth that does not exceed 6 feet, if there are multiple signs that say “No Diving,” the owners may be protected from diving accident claims.
Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents and Injuries
Certainly, we think of drowning when we think of a swimming pool accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 10 people die every day from accidental drownings not related to boating. About one in five people who die from drowning are children age 14 and younger.
For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency room care for nonfatal submersion injuries and half of them require hospitalization or transfer for further care. Loss of oxygen in near-drownings can cause severe brain damage that may cause long-term disabilities, such as memory problems, learning disabilities or permanent loss of basic functioning, the CDC says.
Other common swimming pool accidents include:
- Diving accidents. Diving into water that is too shallow can result in the diver hitting his or her head on the pool bottom or side and suffering a traumatic brain injury and/or spinal cord injury, which may include paralysis.
- Slip and fall accidents. Wet surfaces around pools and showers can be slippery, though they should be textured surfaces with proper drainage. Falls can cause sprains, strains, fractures and head and back (spine/spinal cord) injuries.
- Drain entrapment. Defective or improperly installed swimming pool drains can create a suction force that traps and drowns swimmers or causes bowel and other soft tissue injury to swimmers who manage to escape or are rescued.
- Electrocution. Electrical equipment can cause electrocution, shock or electrical burns if the electrical current and a person come into contact with water at the same time.
- Waterborne illness. Contaminated / improperly treated pool water can cause illness if ingested or through contact with skin, eyes or ears.
- Chemical burns. Caustic chemicals used to improve water quality, stop equipment corrosion, and protect against algae growth can cause burns if they come into contact with the skin or eyes. They should be properly secured and pool employees who use them should be equipped with appropriate protective gear.
- Inclement weather. Lightning strikes at a swimming pool can cause death and injury if pool and pool areas are not cleared upon the threat of inclement weather. Improperly supervised swimmers may also be threatened by potentially deadly hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to wetness and cold that causes body temperature to drop.
As we have investigated swimming pool accidents across South Carolina, we have found that injuries and drownings are caused by various types of negligence such as:
- Inadequate security, including unlocked gates, lack of warning signs, unlocked chemical storage areas
- Inadequate supervision by adults or staff, including allowing horseplay or other dangerous behavior
- Lack of qualified lifeguards on staff, lifesaving and/or first-aid equipment
- Improper installation or lack of maintenance of pool drains, decks, ladders, gates, diving boards
- Failure to properly treat pool water
- Poor lighting on steps, stairs and hallways, particularly in areas of transition between bright sunlight and indoors.
Compensation for Swimming Pool Accidents
The objective of a swimming pool injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim is to ensure that the injured individual or grieving family does not suffer a financial impact due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness. South Carolina law also says that the unjustly injured should be compensated for their pain and suffering and that, in cases of egregious conduct, the defendant should pay additional compensation as punishment.
To determine the amount of compensation you are due, a swimming pool accident attorney at Joye Law Firm would work to document your injuries and related financial expenses and losses, as well as the evidence necessary to convince a judge or jury that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness caused your injuries and losses.
In general, a legal claim in South Carolina may seek to recover compensation, or “damages,” for:
- Medical costs. This includes expenses from ambulance transportation to emergency room care, medication, hospitalization, and all medical expenses that you are likely to incur in the future, such as for rehabilitative therapy or assistive devices.
- Lost wages. Compensation is available for wages lost during recovery as well as for diminished earning power if you have been permanently disabled or partially disabled and must accept less demanding – and lower-paying – work.
- Mental pain and suffering. A serious injury can cause severe mental trauma that adversely impacts your quality of life for years, even after your physical injuries have healed.
- Punitive damages. Additional compensation may be available if the defendant deliberately caused your injury or acted with recklessness that caused your injuries. Punitive damages are awarded when the court feels the defendant needs to understand his or her behavior was unacceptable and/or that other individuals or entities need to be discouraged from engaging in similar behavior.
In a wrongful death claim, additional compensation may be sought for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s support, care and affection
- Mental anguish.
Statute of Limitations in South Carolina for Swimming Pool Accident Claims
Preparing a swimming pool accident lawsuit and developing a solid case for compensation can be complex and time-consuming. It is important to begin work as soon as possible because South Carolina has established statutes of limitations on personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
In most cases, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of injury or death. If the accident occurred at a public swimming pool owned by a local government, the statute of limitations provides a two-year deadline for a claim.
Contact Our Swimming Pool Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one has sustained catastrophic injuries in a swimming pool accident in South Carolina, do not wait to contact a swimming pool drowning lawyer at Joye Law Firm. Our compassionate attorneys and staff can provide trusted guidance about your legal options after reviewing the details of the swimming pool accident. We offer a free case review and we’ll discuss with you whether a swimming pool accident lawsuit is appropriate in your situation. If so, we will begin work to help you recover the compensation you are due for your expenses and for your pain and suffering.
Our attorneys at Joye Law Firm have been fighting for injured people in South Carolina since 1968. We have offices in Charleston, Columbia, Clinton, and Myrtle Beach and we represent clients throughout South Carolina. You can have our lawyers provide a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case by calling (877) 936-9707 or contacting us online.