The early North Texas winter prompted many families to seek solace in one of the area’s indoor swimming pools. That sudden attendance spike caught some local pools off guard, setting the stage for serious injury.
Indoor pools usually depend on a careful balance between drains and pumps. If the drain is too strong, young swimmers could get caught in a dangerous and unseen riptide. Likewise, if the pump is too strong, swimmers could literally be pushed under the water.
Bacteria is also a concern in warm water pools. These infections are usually not a problem unless the victim is vulnerable to infection, perhaps due to age or a pre-existing condition. In these situations, infection could be harmful or deadly.
A Fort Worth personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in commercial swimming pool drowning or injury cases, as outlined below.
In Texas, a pool owner’s legal responsibility usually depends on the relationship between the owner and the victim.
Invitee: If the victim had express or implied permission to be near the pool and benefited the owner in some way, perhaps by paying admission or gym membership dues, the owner had a duty of reasonable care. This duty includes a responsibility to check equipment and water frequently for signs of danger.
Licensee: These individuals have permission to be in the pool, but they do not benefit the owner. Guests of hotel guests are usually licensees. Because of the more distant relationship, the owner has a duty to warn about latent (hidden) defects. This duty probably includes the aforementioned drain/pump and bacteria issues. These issues are unseen until they cause injury.
Trespasser: If the victim had no permission and there was no benefit, there is generally no duty. Some exceptions, like the attractive nuisance doctrine, protect child victims in these situations.
Unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death for children under four. Additionally, if the victim had a pre-existing condition, the eggshell skull rule usually applies. These victims are usually entitled to full compensation.
Evidence of Negligence
Legal duty is not enough. The victim/plaintiff must also show that the owner knew, or should have known, about the indoor swimming pool hazard.
Direct evidence of actual knowledge, like a repair estimate, usually emerges during the discovery process.
In other situations, victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence to establish constructive knowledge (should have known). Such proof usually involves the time-notice rule. If the hazard existed for some time, there is a high probability that the owner should have known about it.
Victim/plaintiffs must establish knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Tarrant County.
Swimming pool excursions often lead to serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Home and hospital visits are available.