Summertime in Texas means days full of sunshine, high temperatures, and any activity that provides relief from the heat. As Texans prepare to face another sweltering summer, they need to be prepared for the serious and unfortunately common accidents that come with the season. Sadly, Texas leads the country in fatal swimming pool accidents. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 221 children ages 15 and under drowned in a pool or spa accident in Texas in 2019 alone. While swimming pools are a great way to cool off, relax, and enjoy the summer vacation with loved ones, they can also be extremely dangerous to guests if not properly maintained and protected by the property owner.
When people think about swimming pool deaths, the first thing they think of is drowning, which is the most common cause of death in pools. In recent years, there has also been increased scrutiny of pool drains which sometimes create enough suction to pose an additional hazard, especially for small children. After a recent tragedy in which a young boy was electrocuted in a pool, pool lights have become a new focus for pool safety. The investigation after this tragedy revealed the electrical wiring on the pool light had not been properly grounded, which meant all 120 volts of electricity were directed into the light fixture. That’s roughly ten times the amount of power that should have been going into the light, which resulted in accelerated corrosion of the area. Once the corrosion reached a certain point, the waterproof seal around the light failed and water got in, sending the electricity throughout the entire pool. As soon as the boy touched the metal rail to get out of the pool, he was electrocuted.
Premises liability refers to the responsibility of a property owner to ensure its premises are safe, as well as the legal responsibility for any damages incurred by a visitor while on their property. Additionally, Texas law adheres to the attractive nuisance doctrine, which holds property owners responsible for any physical harm to a child drawn to a physical hazard accessible on the property that is especially attractive to minors.
This means that if a property has a hazard such as a swimming pool that is not properly supervised or safeguarded against with items such as a pool cover, railing, fence, or other adequate barriers at the time a child is injured, the property owner can be held liable for the child’s injuries – regardless of whether or not they were present at the time of the incident and regardless of whether the child was trespassing.
Texas Residential Swimming Pool Requirements
Because Texas operates under the attractive nuisance doctrine, it’s recommended that residential pool owners follow and strictly adhere to the Texas residential swimming pool requirements. These standards are in place to protect both property owners and their visitors from being injured or drowning. Safety requirements for non-residential pools vary from those for residential pools. Texas residential swimming pools are required to include:
- A fence at least 48 inches high with opening of no less than four inches surrounding the pool area
- A self-closing and self-latching gate
- A cover for the pool
- A reaching pool that does not conduct electricity
- Rope at least ¼ inch in diameter that can be used for throwing
In addition to these Texas state requirements, it’s important for pool owners to take their visitors’ safety seriously. While drownings are unfortunately all too common in Texas, other serious swimming pool injuries are possible if a pool is not being supervised correctly or is not properly secured, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones/fractures
- Deep cuts or lacerations
Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer and Drowning Accident Lawyer serving Texas
All Texans should be able to enjoy summer without the fear of suffering a debilitating injury or losing a loved one in a drowning accident. While some pool owners take safety seriously, others simply see it as an option. Unfortunately, irresponsible pool owners coupled with social activities like BBQs and backyard parties can put the lives of neighbors and loved ones directly in danger. If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a swimming pool accident due to the negligence of the property owner, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact the premises liability lawyers at Liggett Law Group today for a free and confidential new case consultation.