The hot Texas summers make community pools an attractive amenity for anyone interested in renting an apartment. However, these pools can pose a serious safety risk for young children.
Drowning Accidents Don’t Need to Be Fatal to Be Devastating
Losing a child in a drowning accident is undeniably heartbreaking, but an accident doesn’t need to be fatal to have devastating consequences. A child who survives a drowning accident may be left with injuries requiring months of specialized care and rehabilitation. In some cases, the child may never be able to live independently.
The most common brain injury type associated with a near-drowning is an anoxic brain injury (ABI). This is a brain injury characterized by oxygen deprivation. A few minutes of oxygen deprivation will cause symptoms that eventually disappear, but four to five minutes without oxygen can lead to moderate to severe brain damage. Victims can be left with persistent tremors, weakness in the arms and legs, balance difficulties, cognitive impairment, and severe mood swings. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help a young drowning victim learn to cope with their condition, but there is no cure for this type of brain injury.
Secondary drowning, also known as delayed drowning, can occur when a child inhales water into their lungs. This causes inflammation and irritation that makes it difficult to breathe—leading to possible cardiac arrest or death. Secondary drowning can happen up to three days after a child first falls into an apartment pool.
While drowning accidents affect children of all ages, it is important to note that younger children are most at risk. According to the CDC, approximately one in five people who die from drowning are children age 14 and younger—which makes drowning the second leading cause of death for this age group. Children ages one to four have the highest rate of accidental drowning deaths.
For every child who dies from drowning, another five require emergency medical attention for nonfatal submersion injuries. Males and African American children are most at risk.
How the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine Affects Your Claim
Obviously, children should have adult supervision whenever they are near water. However, it only takes a few minutes for a curious child to wander into an unsecured apartment pool. Texas law recognizes the unique danger posed by community pools and thus allows parents to seek compensation on behalf of their injured child from the owner of the apartment complex.
When an adult is injured, their compensation is limited if they are found to have contributed to the accident. The law does not expect the same level of care from young injury victims, so they are able to collect full compensation regardless of their conduct leading up to the accident.
The attractive nuisance doctrine allows property owners to be held liable for a child’s injury if the object causing the injury is likely to attract children. The basis of the doctrine is that young children are developmentally incapable of understanding the full consequences of their actions and thus deserve special protection from property owners.
The attractive nuisance doctrine often applies to cases involving swimming pools, as well as trampolines, unsecured construction sites, abandoned automobiles, and large sand piles. To apply to your case, you must be able to prove the following:
- The defendant had reason to believe children would try to access the property.
- The defendant knew the area had conditions that posed a danger to children.
- Children would be unable to appreciate the danger on the property.
- The defendant didn’t take reasonable steps to reduce the risk posed by unsafe elements on the property.
- The cost of addressing the danger was minimal compared to the risk it posed to children in the area.
Some of the steps a pool owner should take to avoid being subject to the attractive nuisance doctrine include:
- Hiring lifeguards or requiring children to be accompanied by adults.
- Fencing in the pool area.
- Using a hard pool cover when the pool is not in use.
- Removing ladders that allow for easy pool access when the pool is not in use.
- Installing security alarms.
Let Us Help You Protect Your Family’s Rights
After a child’s catastrophic injury or wrongful death, The Button Law Firm is here to help you access the resources you and your family need to move forward. We can investigate your case, gather evidence to support your claim for damages, explain your options in easy-to-understand terms, and help you maximize your available compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.