Swimming Pool Accident Injuries and Legal Concerns

Web Admin - Thursday, April 24, 2014

illinois swimming pool injury attorneyNow that the warm weather is finally on the way, people across Illinois are starting to look forward to a nice summer swim. However, this relaxing summertime activity can quickly turn dangerous if people are careless. Hundreds of people each year die as a result of water related injuries, according to information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. Young children are at especially high risk for these injuries, accounting for approximately 20 percent of those deaths. Yet, people who suffer swimming injuries like this are not without recourse. There are a variety of legal claims available for the different injuries that may occur due to a swimming accident.

Types of Swimming Pool Injuries

Swimming pools can be responsible for a several different types of injuries. One of the most common is, of course, fatalities caused by drowning, but swimming pools can be dangerous in other ways as well. For instance, even if a person survives nearly drowning, the oxygen deprivation can cause permanent brain damage. Further, people diving into pools can often injure themselves by failing to check the depth of the water, which can cause them to strike their heads on the bottom of the pool. This can result in traumatic brain injuries like concussions, as well as damage to a person's spinal cord.

Types of Legal Claims for Swimming Pool Accidents

When a person sustains an injury in a swimming pool, they have two legal claims that they can pursue: premises liability and products liability. Premises liability, probably the more commonly used argument, takes effect when a person injures themselves on someone else's property. The law gives landowners a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that others do not injure themselves because of defects or hazards on their property. That means that pool owners may be liable for a person's injuries if they failed to properly maintain or secure their pool and someone was injured as a result. For example, if a pool owner failed to properly label the pool's shallow end, and a child dove in and injured their head or spine, the pool's owner may be liable for that injury.

Products liability claims do not attempt to hold the pool's owner liable, but are instead aimed against the poo's manufacturer. These claims occur when there is some inherent defect in the pool's manufacturing or design that made it unsafe for public use. Suppose the manufacturer improperly designed one of the pool's drains, and someone got their hand stuck in it, resulting in an injury. That injury might give rise to a products liability claim against the manufacturer since they should have made sure that their product was safe before bringing it to the market.

If you or your child has recently been injured in a swimming pool accident, seek help from a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney. Our firm lends its experience to clients across the northwestern suburbs, including Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Shopping Hazard: Icy Parking Lots in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Ken Apicella

With winter back in full force in Chicago, shoppers should take care when walking to from their cars through the parking lots full of ice and snow. In fact, tens of thousands of people every year suffer serious injuries sustained from severe falls, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control. The law surrounding such falls is somewhat complex, and who bears the responsibility of paying for the injuries depends on the precise circumstances of the case.

A lawsuit relating to slipping and falling in an icy parking lot would be brought under an area of law known as “premises liability.” Premises liability means that people who own land and allow people onto it have a duty to use reasonable care to ensure that people on their land do not come to harm. However, ice and snow pose something of a special case since Illinois has something known as the “natural accumulation” rule.

The natural accumulation rule states that property owners are not liable for those who slip and fall on the snow, provided they did not alter it in some way. For instance, suppose that it snows 11 inches and a person decides to go shopping. If the store chooses to do nothing about the snowfall and the patron slips, then the store would probably not owe them money, barring some sort of special circumstances. However, if the store plowed their parking lot, and the patron hurt themselves climbing over a mound of snow left by the snow plow, then the store would owe them for the injury. Incidentally, under Illinois law, laying down salt in an effort to prevent ice does not count as altering the snow enough to make a store liable for it.

Stores may also be liable for falls sustained in icy parking lots with “underlying defects.” An underlying defect is a problem with the premises that may exacerbate the issues of ice or snow. Improper lighting is a common type of underlying defect. If a store fails to light its parking lot well enough and a person suffers a fall in the treacherous, icy conditions because they could not see well, then they could have a case against the store.

Furthermore, parties who have agreed to remove snow may also potentially be liable for a shopper’s injuries in a fall. If the company that owns a mall promises the stores in the mall that it will clear the snow, and then fails to do so, the mall could be liable to a shopper who slips. This could even be true if the shopper falls in a natural accumulation of snow

Were you recently injured by slipping and falling in an icy parking lot? If so, contact a Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney today. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Barrington, Buffalo Grove, and Schaumburg.

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