A hotel is a place we want to feel safe. They become our home away from home when we are on the road; our cozy retreat after a long day of traveling. That’s why it’s almost impossible to think about the possibility that a loved one could pass away in a drowning accident while staying at a hotel. If this does ever happen, the good news is that you may be able to take legal action and hold the hotel responsible.
How Can Someone Drown in a Hotel Pool?
Most of us rightfully feel safe staying at hotels, and this feeling of safety can often create a false sense of security. Parents often will let their children go swimming unsupervised, assuming the hotel pools will be safe.
This is why we go on vacation, of course, so it is only natural to feel this way. As such, the responsibility is usually on the business (in this case, the hotel) to ensure a safe environment for guests.
Why Are Hotel Pools Sometimes Dangerous?
Usually, safety hazards at hotel pools are caused by poor maintenance and poor safety measures taken by the hotel management.
Unfortunately, many hotels see their swimming pools as low-priority resources and put little time and money into ensuring their safety. Oftentimes, hotels do not hire lifeguards, pool grounds are not well maintained, and steps and ladders are poorly built. Combined with the relaxed and secure mindset that many travelers have while on a vacation, this can create a dangerous environment.
How Often Do Hotel Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents Occur?
According to the CDC, drowning is among the leading causes of death for young children. Between 350 and 400 people drown every year in swimming pools, hot tubs, and related facilities, most of whom are children.
While the number might seem small, it is nonetheless a very real risk and one that anyone traveling should be aware of, especially parents of little ones.
Can Adults Also Drown in Hotel Swimming Pools?
Although the majority of hotel pool drowning accident victims are children, adults are victims of drowning deaths each year.
Alcohol is often at play in adult drowning accidents. Hotels often have bars located near their pool area, and staff oftentimes take little to no action to prevent guests from drinking too much and venturing into the hotel swimming pool while intoxicated.
How Can I Hold a Hotel Liable for a Drowning Accident?
Both federal and state law requires that all private places open to guests provide everyone with a safe and secure environment, whether the guests are paying or non-paying.
Are Swimming Pools Subject to Regulations?
Public swimming pools (including those in hotels) are subject to even stricter liability laws due to the number of state and federal regulations that their operators must abide by. In many cases, hotels can be held responsible for swimming pool incidents even if there are no obvious hazards.
What Hazards Is a Hotel Liable For?
If the accident occurred due to a hazard in the hotel pool, such as a broken ladder or unmarked deep section, you may likely have grounds to hold the hotel liable.
Further, if the hotel did not provide adequate safety measures at the swimming pool area, such as a lifeguard on duty and easily-reachable first aid supplies, you can also use this as the basis for a premises liability case. As the law is often interpreted, the lack of adequate safety measures is usually considered to be a hazard.
Can a Hotel Owner Claim Ignorance?
Hotel owners might be very quick to try a defense on the grounds of ignorance. They will often simply claim that they were unaware of the hazard or inadequate safety measures and will often try to pass the blame onto someone else, such as the child’s guardian, if the drowning victim was a minor.
When Can’t Ignorance Be Used as a Defense?
Fortunately, the law here generally favors the victim. Even if the hotel’s owner had no knowledge of the hazard, liability can still be implied if it could be reasonably shown that he or she should have known there was a safety hazard and had taken no action to warn guests.
With the strict liability applied to public swimming pools, ignorance can rarely be used as a defense if safety measures taken were inadequate.
What Should I Do If a Loved One Drowns in a Hotel Pool?
If the worst has happened and a loved one has drowned in a hotel pool, before leaving the scene of the incident, you want to record as much evidence as possible.
If you wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit, accident lawyers will need as much as possible on your side to argue the case. A drowning accident law firm can argue your case, but only with the right evidence.
What Evidence Can Ensure the Hotel is Held Responsible?
The more evidence that you can gather, the better, but at minimum, here are a few things you’ll want to keep records of after a drowning accident.
Take photos of the area showing the hazard or lack of safety features that lead to the drowning accident. Do this quickly, as hotel owners may try to hide issues!
Written Reports and Statements
Collect police and medical reports from first responders documenting the incident.
In addition to reports from authorities, you could also take written or recorded statements from hotel staff and other guests present at the time of the incident.
Proof of Guest Status
If the victim was a guest at the hotel, get proof of this, such as a booking confirmation, receipt, or room keycard. This adds to the level of responsibility owed by the hotel to the guest’s safety.
If the victim wasn’t staying at the hotel and was only visiting, you need proof that they were permitted to visit and be in the hotel swimming pool at the time of the incident.
How Soon Should I Contact a Drowning Accident Attorney?
Whether or not you think you have grounds to prove the hotel liable, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible and contact an experienced drowning accident attorney right away.
Try not to spend too much time contemplating whether or not you have a valid case or how much compensation you can claim. An experienced attorney can do that for you. Spend time with your family and loved ones and let drowning accident lawyers do their job.
How Long Do I Have to File a Drowning Incident Lawsuit?
In Texas, the statute of limitations on all personal injury cases (including drowning cases) is two years. This is the same, or very similar, in most states.
This means that you have two years from the date of the pool accident to file a claim for compensation. In certain situations, this can be extended.
How Much Restitution and Compensation Can I Claim from a Hotel Drowning Accident?
If the hotel can be held liable, you may be able to claim a large sum of money in compensation and restitution from the hotel. A wrongful death claim is usually one of the highest-valued personal injury claims in court. It isn’t uncommon at all for such a claim to be worth millions of dollars.
What Losses Can I Claim Compensation For?
In addition to general medical expenses that can be claimed as a result of the serious injury that likely led to the victim’s death, numerous other expenses related to the suffering that you and other surviving family members may experience can be compensated for by an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you had to miss work and lose income caring for family members, this can be claimed. If you or another surviving family member was expected to be supported by the victim’s future income, savings, or personal care, these finances can be claimed as restitution.
Attempting to file a liability claim on your own after drowning accidents alone is not recommended, as the hotel will likely enlist the help of an experienced legal professional. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC today at 936-251-5246 to find out how experienced Texas drowning accident attorneys can help you.