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Can You Hold a Hotel Liable for a Swimming Pool Accident in Pennsylvania?

Posted September 14, 2016 | Drowning Accidents

Pools are a fun hotel feature that can make your stay a little more exciting.  Unfortunately, hotels don’t always follow the safety protocols or legal requirements that are designed to protect swimmers and guests.  If you, your spouse, or your child was injured while swimming at a hotel pool in Philadelphia or other parts of Pennsylvania, talk to a Philadelphia swimming pool injury lawyer about getting compensated for your medical expenses.

Hotel Swimming Pool Accident Statistics

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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which issues safety recalls and reports on defective products, almost 140 children tragically drowned in pools and spas during 2012 alone.  In a press release issued September 13, 2012, then-CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum referred to “indoor community pools, hotel pools and spas, indoor waterparks” as major sources of drowning accidents.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2006 sheds some light on the frequency of drowning accidents that occur specifically in hotel or motel settings.  According to the study, “The location of the pool was recorded for 77% of the drowning cases.  Of these, 37% occurred in public pools, 35% occurred in residential pools, and 21% occurred in neighborhood pools.  Hotel/motel pools accounted for 54% of the public pool drownings.”

The same study indicates that hotel and motel pools may carry a high risk of “double-drowning,” where two victims are killed in a single incident, likely due to the fact that many hotel guests are families on vacation.  “Overall,” the study found, “28 of the victims drowned in 14 double-drowning incidents…  At least six of these events occurred in hotel/motel pools.”

The study also pointed to a widespread lack of lifeguards on duty at hotel pools.  “It is reasonable to assume that lifeguards may be even more effective in a… controlled environment, such as a swimming pool,” the study stated.  “However, many hotel/motel pools do not have lifeguards.  When it is not possible for lifeguards to be present, guidelines for prevention of drowning in public pools should be followed, specifically a requirement for adult supervision.”

When Are Hotels, Spas, and Resorts Liable for Guest Injuries or Drowning Deaths?

SEPTA bus accident lawyer

There are many ways an injury or death can occur while swimming, or simply walking around the deck of a pool.  However, hotels and other businesses are not automatically liable in every instance of death or injury.

Liability exists when a hotel or other business entity, or individual employees thereof, engage in conduct that is negligent — in other words, conduct that fails to anticipate and avoid a foreseeable hazard, resulting in preventable death or injury.  Hotels owe their patrons a legal “duty of care,” and when a hotel guest is harmed or killed due to a breach of this duty, the hotel may be liable if the harm or death was caused by an employee’s actions.  In some cases, lawsuits are brought for harm or death that results not from an act, but a failure to act — for example, a lifeguard’s failure to assist a drowning person — which is sometimes described as an “omission.”

Negligence can take many forms, depending on the situation.  In the context of a hotel swimming pool accident, examples of negligence could include:

  • Improper use of pool cleaning solutions, which can lead to painful chemical burn injuries.
  • Allowing lifeguards on duty while they are intoxicated.
  • Failing to remove glass or other hazards from the bottom of the pool.
  • Failing to post warning signs when a lifeguard is not on duty.
  • Failure of a lifeguard to appear at their post when scheduled.
  • Failure to adequately train or screen hotel employees who are lifeguards.
  • Failing to mop or sweep the deck around the pool at reasonable intervals in order to remove hazards. This can result in a slip and fall accident, which you should discuss with an experienced premises liability lawyer.
  • Failing to repair hazardous pool defects, such as defective suction systems.

For more information, see our previous article on the role of negligence in swimming pool accidents.

In personal injury cases against hotels, resorts, or spas, the plaintiff (injured party) must establish negligence by presenting a “preponderance of the evidence.”  A preponderance of the evidence exists when there is more evidence than not that a person or business was negligent.  Evidence might include expert testimony, witness statements, pool maintenance records, insurance policies, security camera footage, pool specifications or measurements, and medical records.

Wrongful Death Lawyer Handling Drowning Lawsuits Against Philadelphia Hotels

Losing a loved one to a drowning accident is a devastating personal tragedy that leaves deep emotional and financial scars.  While legal action cannot take back an accident that has already happened, you should know that your family may be entitled to compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of benefits, and other losses resulting from the accident.

Philadelphia wrongful death attorney Brent Wieand always approaches these difficult, deeply personal cases with empathy and sensitivity for the family’s loss.  When you choose Brent to represent you and your loved ones, you can expect to be treated with dignity and compassion while Brent fights hard to recover the full compensation you are entitled to.

To arrange a free and confidential legal consultation with Brent, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (877) 654-3887.  Brent also handles drowning accidents in New Jersey.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*