Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Unsurprising Swimming Pool Accidents

It isn’t surprising to hear news about drowning accidents across California and in the US, this season.

Now, the threat common among children 1 to 4 years of age has added more venues of risk, that is, abandoned real properties or houses which have pool on it, in the suburbs and posh residential communities.

In the City of Rialto for instance, there are more than 800 abandoned or uninhabited properties. As of date, authorities have received about 155 calls for abandoned pools. Safety measures and information drive campaign are on their way to prevent future accidents and increase awareness of the danger that these abandoned swimming pools might create.

Even without this new threat, swimming pool accidents are bad enough. Drowning-related deaths in children has risen a staggering 89% percent only in the span of three months – from May to August of this year and cases after cases of swimming pool accidents are filed in court.

Pin pointing liability in swimming pool accidents in California is relatively harder than in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Utah, among others. This is primarily due to the fact that California, in effect, unsubscribe to the doctrine of attractive nuisance.

This is a doctrine in tort law which holds property owners and operators liable to children who drown or figured in near-drowning or any related accidents in pools that they own or operate – even if such children were trespassers to the property.

In lieu of the attractive nuisance doctrine, California replaced it with certain property condition standards and hold property owners or operators liable only by applying rules of foreseeable danger. Consequently, some may say that it is quite harder to prove swimming pool accidents liability in California than in other states.

But not quite, it is indicia of negligence if the pool is unguarded or does not contain necessary barriers, natural or artificial to prevent children from having easy access on the pool – once negligence is determined, liability follows.

On one hand, product liability can exist against the manufacturer for defective conditions of pool, or particular features of it, if such were the cause of the accident. It follows the principle of strict liability and it is without regard whether there was negligence on the part of the manufacturer or none – once the product was determined to be defective and caused the accident, liability follows.

Lastly, under premise liability, it would suffice to prove that the property owner was negligent in not keeping the property in a safe condition and that the accident took place therein. In sum, we can still prove liability in swimming pool accidents in California using the principles of negligence, product liability and premise liability.