A dip in the pool is one of the best ways to cool down in the blaze of a Southern California summer. However, there is the potential for death or serious personal injury if the pool into which you dive or wade is electrified.
As our San Celemente personal injury lawyers well know, this in turn could spur an injury lawsuit, potentially predicated on the legal theories of premises liability or product liability. It will depend on whether the pool or its components were inherently dangerous as designed or manufactured, or whether it came down to a property owner maintenance issue.
Girl Dies in Pool Electrocution
Calls to improve pool safety have grown in the wake of a 17-year-old lifeguard death in North Carolina. The high school senior reportedly jumped in the pool to save a young girl who had gone limp after touching the metal rail and instantly becoming paralyzed. The lifeguard jumped in after the girl, but the lifeguard's body was shocked, her muscles contracted and unable to allow her the movement to fight her way back.
In that case, the teen's family has now filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming her death was the result of substandard pool repair work by two different companies. Plaintiffs allege the family failed to replace faulty wiring on the pool when it was first noted in 2011.
Plaintiff attorney says these repair firms knew there were dangerous conditions on that pool and failed to correct them.
Spotting a Problem
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports over the course of 13 years, 60 people have died and 50 others have suffered serious shocks in pool electrocution incidents. Frayed wires can be an indication that the water isn't safe. However, it's not always so obvious.
In 2014, a 7-year-old died in his family pool in Florida. In Silicon Valley, a 43-year-old father died after jumping into the family pool to save his 9-year-old daughter, who he saw not moving at the bottom of the pool. It was later discovered that a faulty light fixture, which was missing some screws, may have had a power surge, electrifying the water. The 9-year-old remains in critical condition, while others in the pool were treated at the scene.
Officials say if there is any suspicion the pool may be electrified, they need to shut off the electrical circuit breaker to the lighting and pump systems.
The CPSC says the issues most likely to cause pool electrocution problems include:
- Aging electrical wiring that has not been inspected in several years;
- Faulty underwater lights;
- The use of sump pumps, power washers and vacuums that are not grounded;
- Electrical appliances (i.e., radios, TVs) and extension cords falling or being pulled into the water.
An even greater risk exists when receptacles aren't protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters.
These same concerns apply also to hot tubs and spas. All pool owners and operators are encouraged to have their lights and wiring systems inspected every season, given that some components are known to degrade with age.
Pool owners who fail to do this may be liable for damages that result.