California continues to push owners of older swimming pools toward compliance with modern safety laws aimed at keeping children safe by preventing tragic drowning accidents.
Swimming pool injuries are best handled by an Orange County attorney with significant experience in both premises liability cases and real estate law.
In some cases, such injuries occur at a hotel or resort. However, in many cases, such tragedies happen at a private residence.
While older pools have historically gotten away with not installing safety features required of new pools, recent updates now require reporting of safety features whenever a single-family home is sold with a swimming pool, spa, or hot tub.
Pool Safety Requirements in Orange County
Senate Bill 442 requires home inspections to identify which of seven specific drowning safety features are present for all single-family homes with swimming pools or spas, according to the California Real Estate Inspection Association.
The report must also note cases in which fewer than two of the specific safety features are present. While older pools will not be required by law to have two or more safety features in place, all new and remodeled pools are required to comply.
Compliant safety features include:
- Enclosure: Pool enclosure must isolate pool and spa from single-family residence and be a minimum height of 60 inches.
- Mesh fencing: These enclosures are acceptable but must follow specific rules.
- Pool cover: Must also meet specific safety standards.
- Exit alarms: Should be installed on all doors leading to the pool and spa area.
- Self-closing/latching devices: Should be used on all doors with direct access to the pool area.
- Alarms: Alarms that alert homeowners to unauthorized entry into the pool. Alarms that do not meet required standards include individual alarms placed on a child.
- Other protections: Other protections may meet standards if they afford protections equal to or greater than those listed above.
Liability for California Swimming Pool Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 3,500 people drown each year - about 10 accidents per day.
Swimming pool accidents are the leading cause of accidental death for children younger than four. In fact, three-quarters of drowning deaths in the United States involve children under the age of five. Most drowning deaths involving children under the age of 15 occur at a private swimming pool.
In most cases, victims will look to a homeowner's insurance policy. However, these are complex cases from both a legal and medical standpoint. Many who survive face life-long impairment due to lack of oxygen, which can result in permanent brain damage. In such cases, medical treatment can cost anywhere from $250,000 to more than $5 million in cases where long-term care is necessary.
The most common causes of swimming pool accidents involve lack of proper supervision, lack of barriers to the pool area, and alcohol use by adult caregivers.
Another risk is "circulation entrapment," which results when a swimmer becomes trapped by suction against a pool or spa drain. The majority of these cases occur at public swimming facilities.
Whether dealing with a private swimming pool accident, or an accident or injury at a hotel, resort or public facility, contacting a personal injury law firm experienced in handling serious and fatal pool injuries in Orange County is the best bet for protecting your rights and the rights of your family.