As temperatures finally start to warm, more and more people will participate in water activities. Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in Illinois, and negligence causes many of these incidents. Just a few minutes under water is normally sufficient to cause death or permanent injury.
Swimming pool poisonings also affect many people, particularly young children. Some owners use too many cleaning chemicals, such as chlorine. These toxic chemicals often cause harmful or fatal reactions, especially if the victim has an allergic reaction. The opposite is also true. Some owners do not use enough cleaning agents. That neglect allows bacteria to flourish.
Medical bills alone can be staggering in these cases. An attorney can help you obtain fair compensation for these losses and other damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
Establishing Liability in Rockford Swimming Pool Injury Claims
Negligence is essentially the failure to meet the standard of care. Rockford has a number of construction ordinances which set the standard of care with regard to backyard swimming pools. Some items of note include:
- A fence at least 4’ high must completely surround the pool,
- Any opening must be 4” or smaller, so make sure there are no holes or gaps in chain link or lattice fences,
- All pedestrian access gates must swing outward,
- Each gate must have a self-latching mechanism on the pool side, and
- All diving boards must be less than 3’ high.
These rules generally apply to all private and semi-private pools, such as hotel or apartment complex pools. If the victim is injured in a pool that does not conform to all these specification, and that inadequacy substantially caused the injury, the property owner may be liable for damages. Note that these are the Rockford rules. Other cities may have different requirements.
In some states, violation of a statute is negligence per se, or negligence as a matter of law. But in Illinois, the negligence per se doctrine usually does not apply to municipal ordinances.
There is also a standard of care with regard to chlorine. The liquid chlorine in pools contains about five times more active ingredients than household bleach. The amount of chemicals needed varies, mostly according to water temperature. Rockford requires pool chlorine to be between 1.5 and 3.0 parts per million. Anything less is not enough to clean the water; anything more can cause chemical burns or other serious injury.
Insurance Company Defenses in Rockford Swimming Pool Claims
Lack of duty is one of the most common defenses. In Illinois, pool owners usually only have a legal duty to invitees. These are individuals who respond to the owner’s express or implied invitation and whose mere presence is a benefit for the owner. That benefit could be economic (a paying hotel guest) or noneconomic (a guest at a backyard pool party).
Many apartment and other pools in Rockford post signs which say things like “Swim At Your Own Risk” or “No Lifeguard On Duty.” These signs do not immunize owners, but they do make it easier for them to assert the assumption of the risk defense. This doctrine applies if the victim:
- Voluntarily assumed
- A known risk.
Some people cannot read these signs or cannot understand what they mean. If that’s the case, they did not voluntarily assume a known risk, in most cases.
Work with Experienced Attorneys
Unattended swimming pools are very dangerous, so owners have a duty to be very careful. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.