The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year more than 3,000 children go to hospital emergency rooms due to non-fatal submersion injuries. According to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation, from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013, at least 202 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in swimming pools and spas in the United States alone. As shocking as these statistics are, they fail to account for the countless additional incidents involving children who are injured in jumping and diving accidents, which can result in injuries ranging from minor scrapes and bruises to debilitating neck and spinal fractures.
Neck and spine injuries have devastating consequences under the best circumstances, but when the victim of a pool or diving accident is a child, the difficulty of the situation is compounded and the stakes become exceedingly high. As a parent, one of the hardest phone calls that you’ll ever receive is one from a neighbor with whom you’ve entrusted with the care of your child, telling you that an accident took place at their home. Once the period of immediate medical danger and shock have passed, your next thoughts will inevitably turn to your child’s long-term quality of life, and whether you’ll be able to pay for their ongoing rehabilitation and care.
No one wants to be in the uncomfortable position of contemplating legal action against a friend or neighbor, but at the same time, a parent’s primary concern has to be how to insure that their child will have access to all the tools necessary to make the best recovery possible. To that end, knowing how personal injury laws apply to your case is vitally important for understanding what to do when your child’s injury occurred in the swimming pool of a friend or neighbor. In many circumstances, it may be possible to protect your child’s future interests and recover for their injuries without doing so at the expense of the friend or neighbor. Successful claims in these types of cases almost always target the friend’s or neighbor’s insurance carrier rather than the friend or neighbor.
In North Carolina, a parent may have grounds to bring a lawsuit for injuries suffered by their child in the swimming pool of a friend or neighbor based on several different theories of recovery. The first theory, Premises Liability, is based on a failure of the owner to exercise reasonable care in maintaining their property and/or their pool. The second theory, Negligent Supervision, is based on a failure of the owner to exercise reasonable care in supervising children who are lawfully using a pool at their invitation. Additionally, a third possible theory of recover, Products Liability, may be available against the swimming pool’s manufacturer. Recovery under Products Liability is based on The N.C. Products Liability Act, which creates a claim where injuries are caused by or result from the improper manufacture, construction, design, formulation, development of standards, preparation, processing, assembly, testing, listing, certifying, warning, instructing, marketing, selling, advertising, packaging, or labeling of any product.
The decision of which theory or theories to bring suit under is a strategic one that can have serious consequences for you and your family. Accordingly, you need to make sure that you’re basing your decision on a thoughtful consideration of the unique circumstances of your case. Doing so is vitally important to help avoid making one of the common mistakes that can have dangerous financial consequences for your family. Before you take any other action, I encourage you to take advantage of my offer to meet and speak with you about your claim FREE of charge.
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 Royal v. Armstrong, 163 N.C. App. 465 (2000).
 See 24 N.C. Index 4th Products Liability § 1; N.C. General Statutes §§ 99B(1) to 99B(11)