Open bodies of water can lead to a child drowning in a matter of minutes. Children may suffer permanent injuries or death as a result of being submerged only in a few inches of water. Both Orlando swimming pool accidents and retention pond accidents are usually preventable when reasonable care is taken. In situations where property owners are negligent and children suffer harm as a result, children or their family members may be entitled to personal injury or wrongful death compensation.
Risk of Swimming Pool Accidents and Retention Pond Accidents
The laws regarding swimming pool fencing are extensive in order to protect children. Pool owners must have secure fencing around residential and commercial swimming pools so kids cannot access the pool areas.
Retention ponds, which also present a risk to children, are treated differently. Orlando mandates retention ponds must slope gradually, with at least 5 flat linear feet before the retention pond can drop a foot in elevation. Retention ponds only require a fence if these requirements are not met.
However, Orlando Sentinel reports some developers are able to get around the fencing mandate, even when retention ponds don't gradually slope, by describing the pond as an amenity. Homeowners often fight against fencing of retention ponds because they argue the fence destroys the aesthetic value of having a "waterfront" home.
Even gradual sloping may not be enough to stop drowning, especially when young children are near retention ponds. YMCA reports it only takes inches of water for a drowning to occur.
Whether a child drowns or nearly drowns in a swimming pool, a retention pond, or any body of water, the devastation can change the child and his or her family's life.
An estimated 2,700 children age 14 and under sought treatment in hospital facilities over a single year for unintentional drowning injuries. For each child who dies due to drowning, four children suffer injuries requiring hospitalization.
Children who survive are usually left with life-changing brain damage leading to cognitive impairments. As many as 20 percent of near-drowning survivors experience permanent neurological disabilities due to the incident. Nearly all victims of drowning incidents who require CPR due to submersion will either end up dying or will be left with severe brain injuries.
Swimming pools are the most likely place for drownings, even though rules on fencing of pools are stricter than rules related to retention ponds. More than half of all drowning incidents involving children under four occur in pools.
Pool owners who do not follow safety rules can be held accountable. Those who supervise children and who are negligent in making sure the children are safe can also be sued when a drowning occurs. When it comes to retention ponds, it can be more complicated to determine who to hold accountable and whether there is legal liability. If the retention pond presented an obvious risk to children and the owner of the property it was on failed to fulfill a duty to prevent drownings, the property owner could be sued and made to pay damages.