Swimming Pool Liability in West Virginia

Swimming pools present wonderful opportunities for both children and adults to have fun, particularly when the weather is warm. However, swimming pools also pose significant risks that most people do not think about when splashing into the cool water. Unfortunately, there are times when the careless or negligent actions of swimming pool owners or property managers lead to severe injuries for patrons. At Tiano O’Dell, we are here to help if you need a West Virginia swimming pool liability attorney. Our team understands these cases, and we have the resources necessary to conduct a full investigation to determine liability.

West Virginia Swimming Pool Liability Resources

To immediately access any section on this page, click the corresponding link below.

What is a Homeowner’s Duty of Care?
A Pool is an Attractive Nuisance
Common Injuries in Swimming Pool Accidents
Are Pools Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?
Why Hire a Swimming Pool Liability Attorney?
What is the West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act?
Safety Recommendations for Pool Owners
Potential Damages in a Swimming Accident Case
Can an Incidental Drowning Result in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Cost of a Swimming Pool Liability Attorney
What if You are Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

West Virginia Swimming Pool Liability

Homeowner’s Duty of Care

Homeowners in West Virginia have a responsibility to ensure that their property is safe. If a person owns a swimming pool, they must take various steps to meet certain safety obligations. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for any accident, injury, or drowning that occurs on their property. The homeowner’s duty of care in these situations refers to a person’s legal requirement to act in a reasonable manner to keep their premise is safe. Under premises liability law, the duty of care imposed on a person examines the actions that a reasonable person would exercise in the same or similar circumstances.

A Pool is an Attractive Nuisance

Swimming pools are what is known as an attractive nuisance. This is particularly important to understand, particularly when working to ensure the safety of children. An attractive nuisance is defined as a dangerous element on a person’s property that is enticing or attractive to others. Swimming pools are considered attractive nuisances because they tempt children and strangers to enter a property to use the pool (with or without the owner’s permission). Pool owners have a responsibility to ensure that they take steps to prevent anyone from getting to the attractive nuisance. This includes placing a fence with a locking gate around a pool. Failing to take these steps could result in the property owner being held liable in the event an injury or death occurs.

Common Injuries from Swimming Pool Accidents

Various types of injuries can occur in or near a swimming pool that range in severity. The most common include: 

Drowning

Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death for young children four years of age and younger in Charleston, WV. Tragically, these accidents are preventable and typically caused by a brief lack of supervision or, for example, if a victim’s hair, swimsuit, or limbs gets caught in an improperly covered drain. 

Brain and Head Injuries 

Drowning, diving into a shallow pool, or slip and fall accidents near a pool commonly result in traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures, or brain bleeds that can have life-changing effects. These injuries also may take time to present symptoms and may not be immediately apparent. 

Neck and Back Injuries  

A neck or spinal cord injury can happen from a fall near a pool or by diving into the shallow end. Neck and back injuries often cause excruciating pain, which can end up being chronic. Mobility is also typically affected, and victims may suffer numbness or paralysis.

Broken Bones

Severe fractures can take a great deal of time to heal and may require surgery. 

Burn Injuries

When jacuzzis are too hot, the water can cause painful burns that often lead to scarring. Chemical burns can also happen when there is too much chlorine in a swimming pool. 

Are Pools Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance?

Yes, pools are usually covered by homeowners insurance in West Virginia. If an accident takes place in a swimming pool on a person’s property, the homeowner’s insurance will usually pay for the related damages. However, it is crucial for any person who owns a pool to ensure that they have the minimum liability insurance requirements through their homeowners insurance policy. Experts who handle pools for homeowners recommend that a person purchase at least $500,000 minimum in liability insurance through their homeowners insurance policy. This coverage will help pay for various expenses in the event an accident occurs, including a victim’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering losses, and more.

Why Should You Consider Hiring a Charleston, WV Pool Accident Attorney?

A swimming pool accident can affect every aspect of your life. You may be unable to work, care for your family, or manage everyday tasks. All of which can be incredibly stressful, physically, emotionally, and financially. With so much on the line, getting help from an experienced and trusted Charleston, WV pool accident attorney is crucial. With their knowledge of West Virginia’s swimming pool laws and regulations, they can determine which parties are liable and ensure that you have the evidence you need to hold them accountable. Their experience and resources can also help you identify how much compensation you are entitled to and the amount that you must recover to remain financially secure now and in the future. 

West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act

The West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act is designed to enhance the safety of residential pools and spas, encourage the use of various layers of protection, prevent children from drowning in pools, and reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents. This law defined the types of safety standards that must be adhered to for any pool installed or remodeled after July 1, 2012.

Particularly, the Act defines that enclosures around pools meet the following characteristics:

  • Any access gates must open away from the pool and be self-closing with a latch placed no lower than 60 inches above the ground.
  • Be a minimum height of 60 inches.
  • Have a maximum vertical clearance from the ground to the enclosure of two inches.
  • Have gaps (if there are any) that do not allow the passage of a sphere equal to or greater than 4 inches in diameter.
  • Have an outside surface free from protrusions, cavities, or any other characteristic that could serve as foot or handholds that would enable a child under the age of five to climb.

Safety Recommendations for Pool Owners

If you have a swimming pool on your property, or if you are considering installing one, there are various steps that you can take to ensure that the area is as safe as possible for your family and for any guests. This includes the following:

  • Thoroughly review and obey all aspects of the West Virginia Swimming Pool Safety Act.
  • Ensure that all access doors and gates to a swimming pool or locked.
  • Install an alarm that creates an alert anytime someone enters the pool.
  • Keep the pool area clear from any obstacles or hazards.
  • Check the pool for defects regularly, including broken drain covers.
  • Never allow a child to swim alone.
  • Teach all children in the household how to swim at an early age.
  • Ensure that there are members of the household trained in CPR in case of a drowning incident.

Unfortunately, one of the most common things that people say after a swimming pool injury or death occurs is, “We didn’t think it could happen to us.”

The reality is that swimming pool accidents can happen to anybody. Even though these incidents are “accidents,” the reality is that most swimming pool accidents are completely preventable. If swimming pool owners take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of their families and any person who comes onto their property, they can save lives.

Potential Damages in a Swimming Accident Case

After a swimming pool accident, victims are entitled to recover compensation from the at-fault party for any resulting damages in a Charleston personal injury lawsuit. The types of compensation available may include the following.

Economic Damages

Reimbursement for actual financial losses, such as: 

  • Medical Bills & Expenses: Including current and future costs for emergency transportation and care, surgeries, hospitalizations, physical and occupational therapy, prescription medications, medical equipment, in-home care, and any other treatment required. 
  • Lost Income: Both past and future lost wages while recovering and possibly lost earning capacity if there is a difference in income that can be made now compared to before the accident.  
  • Property Damage: Compensation for the repair or replacement of any personal items damaged in the accident (e.g., cell phone, swimsuit, clothing, shoes, etc.). 

Non-Economic Damages

Compensation for non-monetary losses, for example:

  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain caused by the accident. 
  • Emotional Distress: If the pool accident resulted in emotional distress, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, etc. 
  • Loss of Consortium: If the victim’s spouse or family suffered a loss of love, affection, companionship, comfort, society, etc., due to the injuries, they can recover this type of compensation. 

Punitive Damages 

When an at-fault party’s behavior was extremely reckless or intentional, the court may also award punitive damages as a form of punishment and to deter others from similar conduct.  

Can an Incidental Drowning Result in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When a victim drowns in a swimming pool accident caused by another party’s negligence, it is possible for surviving loved ones to pursue a Charleston, WV wrongful death lawsuit. Those who own pools or are responsible for public pools have a duty to protect against known and foreseeable dangers. As a result, it is their responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent unauthorized or unsupervised use of pools. Since drowning is a preventable accident, there is often a party that can be held liable for negligent actions contributing to the death.  

West Virginia law allows the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members. As a result, the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, and any other family members financially dependent on the deceased can recover compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of expected income, loss of consortium, any medical bills related to treating the injuries which led to the victim’s death, compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering, and more. 

How Much Does a Charleston, WV Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Charge?

Most personal injury lawyers in Charleston, WV handle swimming pool accident cases on a contingency fee basis rather than charging an hourly rate. This means you have no out-of-pocket risk, as your attorney will advance all costs related to pursuing your case. There are no upfront fees required to retain their services, and you only owe legal fees if you win. If you do not recover compensation, you will not owe any fees for their representation. 

Most attorneys deduct between 33 to 40 percent of your settlement or award, plus court costs. However, the percentage can vary and may increase or decrease depending on the amount of work involved in your case. For example, an attorney may require a fee of 25% of your compensation if your case settles relatively quickly, 33.3% (one-third) if they must file a lawsuit, and 40% if they must represent you at trial. This type of arrangement is highly beneficial to swimming pool accident victims who can secure skilled and trusted legal representation without worrying about having the financial means to pay them. 

What if You are Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

If you or a loved one sustained an injury on another party’s property in West Virginia, please seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Tiano O’Dell, we have the resources necessary to fully investigate your claim and help you secure the compensation you are entitled to. This can include coverage of your medical bills, lost income, general household out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering damages, and more. These cases can become incredibly complicated, but a skilled attorney will stand up to aggressive insurance carriers and property owners in an effort to ensure victims are properly cared for. If you need a premises liability attorney in West Virginia, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling us at (304) 720-6700.

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