Children between the ages of 1 and 4 face significant risk of drowning in the state of Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, drowning is not only the leading cause of death for children in this age group, but more children between 1 and 4 drown in Florida than in any other state in the country.
Protecting children and preventing drowning deaths is the responsibility of parents and caregivers, but also of residential and commercial pool owners. Swimming pools are ubiquitous throughout Florida and pool owners must understand their obligations and act in a responsible way to reduce the chances that a young child will drown.
When a property owner is negligent and a child is harmed, an Orlando personal injury lawyer can help the child and family to pursue a claim for damages. Call the Law Offices of Richard B. Troutman, P.C. for assistance pursuing a premises liability claim after a swimming pool accident.
Preventing Drowning Accidents in Orlando
Chapter 515 of the Florida Code contains the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. The Act imposes certain requirements for safeguarding residential swimming pools and spas built after October 1, 2000.
According to the Act, all swimming pools constructed after that date must have certain safety features including:
- A fence and a wall that is either attached to or separate from the dwelling that completely surrounds the pool and prevents access to the area.
- An approved safety cover.
- Exit alarms on all doors and windows that provide direct access to the swimming pool area from the home.
- Self-closing and self-latching devices on all doors that provide access to the pool from the home. The devices must be at least 54 inches above the floor.
Failure to ensure that a swimming pool constructed after October 2000 has the required safety features is a criminal offense. Failure to prevent access to a swimming pool is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor, with the potential penalties including jail time and fines.
The laws are strict in an effort to prevent children from accessing the pool and losing their lives. It takes only one minute for a child to get into a yard with a pool and fall in, potentially suffering brain damage or death. Drowning can occur silently, and it can have a tremendous cost even when a child survives. Young children admitted to the hospital for near-drowning-related injuries stay an average of two days, and the median charge for care exceeds $10,000. For more serious and permanent injuries caused by near drowning, medical expenditures can total in the millions.
Unfortunately, since the laws apply only to new pools, more than 90 percent of homes with pools in Florida are not required to comply with these standards. Even in older pools, however, pool owners can still be held legally liable if they are negligent in preventing young children from getting into the pool and either drowning or suffering severe injuries.
Central Florida accident victims and families who lost loved ones can contact Winter Park, FL personal injury attorney Richard B. Troutman by calling 866-434-5770 or visit http://www.richardtroutman.com.