Swimming Pool Slip & Fall
Floridians love their swimming pools.
Pools are also some of the most popular features at thousands of hotels, resorts, theme parks and vacation rentals. The Florida Health Department estimates there are approximately 1.1 million residential swimming pools. There are also a huge number of public swimming pools, spas, wading pools and water recreation attractions.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our swimming pool injury lawyers know this is the primary reason Florida has the No. 1 drowning rate in the country. It’s also the reason the number of slip-and-fall injuries is so high.
While it’s true that pools and the areas immediately surrounding them are inherently wet and potentially slippery, that does not free a property owner of obligation to use reasonable care in making the area safe – especially if it is open to the public or paying guests.Slip-and-Fall Hazards at the Pool
Whenever a walking surface is coated with slick or slippery substances, there is the potential for a fall. At a swimming pool, the surrounding area surrounding the pool is not only wet, but typically covered by hard concrete, making the impact of a fall all the more dangerous.
But pool water isn’t the only danger. There is the potential for spills of oily suntan lotion or concession stand products, like soda or ice cream. These can create sticky messes, but they can also pose a fall risk to those nearby.
Additionally, falls in pool-area bathrooms and dressing rooms are common, because concrete or tile surfaces tend to be wet from patrons running back and forth from the pool area.
If swimming pools or swimming pool equipment is not manufactured according to certain standards, that risk can be heightened significantly. For example, stairs or walkways in the pool or surrounding that are worn smooth or cracked could pose a risk of a slip or trip into the pool.
Diving boards or slides that aren’t appropriately constructed also pose a serious risk of a fall. A seemingly minor slip on a diving board could result in severe head, neck or spinal cord damage.
Chapter 64E-9 of the Florida Administrative Code regulates public swimming pools and bathing places. In addition to requiring approved engineering, inspection, permitting and monthly reports, the code also addresses public pool owners’ responsibilities in curbing slip-and-fall hazards. Among those:
- Keep the pool and area surrounding free of sediment, dirt that’s visible, algae and floating debris. If the pool surfaces can’t be kept in a safe and sanitary condition, it needs to be refinished.
- Food and drinks should be forbidden in the pool and on the wet deck area. Additionally, glass containers and animals should be barred within the fenced pool area, or else 50 feet from the edge of the pool if it isn’t fenced.
- All equipment has to be kept in good repair.
- Bathrooms, dressing rooms and other sanitary facilities on site have to be kept clean and well-stocked with supplies.
- Pools used at night or when natural lighting isn’t available must comply with lighting requirements set forth in Section 64E-9.006(2)(c).
All of these requirements address issues that frequently contribute to swimming pool slip-and-fall hazards. A violation of any one of these preceding an injury can serve to bolster your case. However, it won’t necessarily mean an automatic win.Proving Liability in a Florida Swimming Pool Slip-and-Fall
In order to prove liability for a slip-and-fall, our swimming pool injury lawyers must first establish a defendant’s actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard that caused the fall.
The good news is this is often easier to do than with falls that occur in areas that aren’t routinely covered in water.
Florida Statute 768.0755 requires victims of slip-and-fall accidents to prove the owner of the property was actually aware of the dangerous condition or should have known about it, given that it occurred with such frequency or existed for such a time that it should have been anticipated or discovered in the course of exercising routine care.
Because areas and facilities surrounding pools are routinely wet, property owners should anticipate and address the risk of patron falls by ensuring non-slip surfaces are present, placing mats or non-slip concrete strips in certain areas, clearly marking the perimeter of the pool, ensuring drainage is properly installed and functioning, and clearly posting warnings where dangers are most prevalent.
One of the most common defenses in swimming pool slip-and-fall cases is that the danger was “open and obvious,” such that a patron should know to use extra caution to protect herself from harm. However, in these cases, the distraction exception might reasonably apply. For example, a father watching his child in the water might be considered reasonably “distracted” so as not to be paying close attention to every step underfoot, therefore missing a hazard that would otherwise be considered “obvious.”
Each scenario is going to be different, and it’s important for persons injured in swimming pool slip-and-fall incidents to immediately contact a Southwest Florida injury attorney with extensive experience and proven success.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a nursing home slip-and-fall in Southwest Florida, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.