Articles Posted in Swimming Pool Accidents and Injuries

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After less than a day of deliberation, a Chicago jury awarded Tierney Darden $148 million for a shelter collapse outside O’Hare Airport that ripped her spinal cord in half, leaving her permanently paralyzed from the waist down and in constant pain.

In August 2015, Tierney, her mother, and sister had just returned to Chicago after traveling to Minneapolis to pick out a wedding dress for her sister. The three were waiting outside O’Hare under one of several pedestrian shelters found at the airport. A storm caused the shelter to suddenly collapse, trapping Tierney, now 26. After the accident, CBS 2 investigators found corroded parts and missing bolts and screws in not only the shelter that collapsed, but in nearly all others. The discovery and exposure forced O’Hare to remove all pedestrian shelters.

Tierney, a former dancer at Truman College, told CBS 2 of the accident “I hate it. I hate that I have to wake up every day and see it.”

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Summertime is the favorite time of year for many people throughout Illinois. This warm weather calls for leaving home and enjoying the great outdoors, whether on vacation or in the comfort of your own city. As you know, Illinois offers many outdoor activities for people of all ages to enjoy during the summer, from street festivals, to our beaches, outdoor dining, and sports leagues. With the hot weather, many people enjoy cooling off and heading to local pools. However, lack of safety, maintenance, and oversight in these facilities can easily change an enjoyable summer day into a family tragedy with a swimming pool accident.

A three-year old boy recently died after falling into an above-ground pool, according to news from The State Journal-Register. The child is one of eight Illinois children who drowned in the months of May and June alone. This number has startled local organizations and parents to address the need for safety. American Red Cross, the Illinois Associations of Park Districts, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services all recently met with their concerns and discussed with parents and caregivers the need to watch over their children near water. DCFS commented on how eight deaths in only two months is high and alarming because there have been years where 17 children drowned for an entire year, and here eight have drowned in only two months.

Our lawyers remind readers that it only takes mere seconds for a child to drown. Caregivers should always maintain vigilance over the children in their care and not incorrectly assume that someone else is watching the kids at play. It takes only a moment when an adult turns their back or becomes distracted that harm can come a child’s way. In addition to constant supervision, parents and caregivers can also help their children help protect themselves through swimming lessons and providing proper flotation devices.
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Everyone believes that they will be able to recognize when someone near them is drowning, or in seriously danger in the water, however most cases of drowning do not involve the person yelling out or waving their arms and kicking, like television has led many of us to believe. Actually, most people who are drowning are unable to make any distressed calls and are using their arms to attempt to reach the surface and therefore are not able to waive their arms outside of the water to let people know they are in serious danger.

This is a very surprising and scary thought, because we all want to believe if someone is in danger right next to us, that we would immediately notice and help that person out. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in kids ages fifteen and younger. In about half of the cases of children who die as a result of accidental drowning, a parent or other adult is twenty five yards or less away from the child.

The reason that this many water and pool accidents can occur so close to an adult, is because most adults have no idea what to look for and believe that what we see on television is what drowning actually looks like. According to Slate and On Scene Magazine, someone who is drowning is rarely able to call out for help because their body is focusing on using the respiratory to breath for any second it is above water and the person is rarely above water long even to take a breath in and also yell out. Similarly, a person who is drowning is unlikely to be able to wave out for help, because their natural instinct is to push their arms down against the water to try and create leverage to keep from going underwater.

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The combination of warm Chicago weather and Memorial Day weekend celebrations mean that many homeowners will be opening up their swimming pools soon. Although swimming pools are a wonderful source of enjoyment in Illinois during the warmer months, if pools are not operated, secured, or maintained properly, they can be very dangerous.

On the heels of a recent report by MSNBC detailing the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest study found that drowning remains the leading cause of death in children under age 4 (other than birth defects), our Chicago personal injury lawyers want to remind both swimming pool owners and parents alike to be careful around pools this summer.

The CDC’s study revealed that each year, in the United States alone, approximately 3,900 people die from drowning and another 5,700 received emergency care for near- drowning incidents, said MSNBC. Even scarier was the fact that death rates were highest for children between ages 1 and 4 years-old, and more than half of all people treated in emergency rooms for near-drowning incidents were younger than 4 years old.

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Our Chicago personal injury lawyers were so sad to read about the three year-old Illinois boy who is now hospitalized after being pulled from a swimming pool late last week. The Illinois pool accident happened near Collinsville, Illinois in the 1200 block of South Clinton Road in St. Clair County, Illinois. Illinois fire personnel indicated that the drowning victim was unconscious and unresponsive. No further information was available about the boy’s health and condition at the time.
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Illinois swimming accidents have the potential to cause severe injuries and death throughout this summer season. With the 4th of July holiday approaching it is likely that many area residents will celebrate the holiday in and around the water. Our Chicago injury lawyers felt it especially important to remind all swimmers, pool owners, and operators to re-familiarize themselves with the consequences of unsafe swimming pool conditions.

For example, last week The Daily Telegram reported on the end of a swimming accident lawsuit that was filed following a pool injury. The victim in that case was at a gathering at a friend’s home. Apparently the victim and another guest were horse-playing on the deck of the pool, when the other guest pushed the young woman into the pool. Then, for unknown reasons, a third guest pushed another into the pool and directly on top of the woman who was still in the water. The weight of the man being pushed onto her while in the water caused extensive damage.

The woman’s neck was broken in the accident. Fortunately she was not paralyzed, but she still suffered permanent debilitating injuries that have had severe consequences on her life. She is self-employed and did not have medical insurance at the time of the injury, racking up over $100,000 in hospital bills. The victim’s business suffered significantly following the accident and she is unable to work as much as she has in the past.

The judge in the case recently entered a default judgment on behalf of the victim, because the defendant failed to respond in any way since being sued. The judge entered an order for $1.2 million, but it is unclear what assets the defendant has to satisfy that judgment.
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Last week brought news of a tragic Illinois swimming accident that claimed the life of a 16-month old area child. According to Chicago Breaking News the victim was found unresponsive at the bottom of a family pool. Those who found her quickly called local emergency responders, and she was taken to a nearby hospital. While it is unclear exactly how long the girl was under the water, she had suffered severe injuries by the time she was located. The toddler survived the first night at the facility but passed away the next morning. The girl lived in Wheaton, but the accident occurred at a pool in an unincorporated part of Kendall County.

Local authorities investigated the incident to confirm that no foul play was involved. They have now officially ruled the pool drowning an accident.

The tragic Chicago swimming accident is a sad reminder of the danger that these pools pose to all swimmers, particularly young children. From the perspective of a Chicago personal injury attorney, it is important to consistently remind our readers that supervision remains an essential part of the safety process, yet, owners and operators must still ensure that other safety measures are followed. Drains need to be properly covered, lifesaving rings and hooks need to be near the water, protective fencing must be installed, gates must have locks, and other common-sense measures must be taken.

The rules are particularly stringent when it comes to pools in apartment complexes, hotels, water parks, and community centers. The law requires that those locations take many steps to ensure the safety of those who use the water. There is no excuse for one of these larger pools to lack basic features intended to promote safe and facilitate rescue.
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Many Illinois residents use portable (and affordable) swimming pools to beat the summer heat if do not have access to in-ground pools or nearby natural water. Many companies have capitalized on the popularity of summer swimming to more aggressively market these cheaper pools. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have seen the myriad of versions of these pieces of recreational equipment, from one foot deep plastic tubs to larger, air-filled models. However, new research lends credence to the fact that many Illinois drowning accidents strike in these devices.

Efforts to make theses pool as cheap as possible often comes with safety sacrifices. For example, much national attention has been drawn to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics that explored the prevalence of swimming pool accidents caused by these portable devices. Shockingly, the investigation found that roughly one child dies every five days in the summer in a portable pool drowning. The actual danger of the pools is likely much higher because that statistic only includes submersion statistics, not other forms of pool accidents.

The ease with which accidents can strike in these pools may shock many local observers. For example, one accident mentioned in the study involved a parent who fell asleep in a wading pool while holding a child. The infant eventually drowned in only two inches of water. Another case involves nine-year old twins who became entangled in a portable pool cover and drowned.

Some researchers believe those in charge of making these devices need to take some responsibility for the deaths. One advocated explained that “many of the protection methods and devices for in-ground pools are too expensive or not available for portable pools. Manufacturers need to step up and try to help consumers by coming up with affordable and effective prevention devices.”
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Federal regulators recently announced a product recall that may hit close to Illinois homes this Memorial Day weekend. Many pools across the country will need to replace faulty safety equipment that can lead to swimmers getting trapped underwater and drowning. The product recall of pool drains involves 1 million covers. The timing of the product recall by the United States Product Safety Commission (CSPC) made many pool owners and operators frustrated. Our Illinois product liability lawyers hope that such action will prevent injuries or deaths. Pool owners and operators have, in the recent years, installed safety equipment; unfortunately, this has failed to make these drains safe. Hiring a pool professional to replace drains can cost hundreds of dollars, which frustrates the homeowners and operators. The CPSC noted that larger pools with multiple drains or gravity draining systems will not need to close, but those with a single main drain will need to close if their drain is one of those recalled.

The danger of pool drains, which may seem harmless, occurs when the drains do not have proper covers. Then, the drains can act like supercharged vacuum cleaners, which are capable of trapping people under water with hundreds of pounds of suction force. Earlier this year, a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed how pool drain covers failed safety tests. The investigation revealed a confidential report where witnesses to tests concluded that some pool drain covers certified that the drains could result in “serious injuries and/or death.” The CPSC had also fielded safety complaints about the drain covers for more than two years, but did not launch any investigation until last year.
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A Naperville wrongful death lawsuit has been filed following a pool death in Crete, Illinois. The mother of the Naperville victim filed an wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the Crete property. The 23 year-old wrongful death victim was killed when he dove into a 4-foot-deep pool in June at a home in Crete. The Naperville wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court. The 23 year-old Illinois man was pronounced dead on July 1 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. An autopsy revealed that the 23 year-old died of ischemic bowel, which means inadequate flow of oxygenated blood to the large intestine and cervical injuries from the Illinois diving accident. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the Crete homeowner invited the victim to his home and allowed people to dive into the pool without warning them that it was only four feet deep. Additionally, the Cook County wrongful death lawsuit claims that the homeowner failed to monitor pool activities. The Cook County lawsuit seeks more than $100,000.

Unfortunately, wrongful death accidents like the one described above are not entirely uncommon. In 2009, a jury awarded a family $3.8 million in a pool drowning lawsuit against a hotel for the death of a 19 year-old football player. The football player suffered severe personal injuries that resulted in wrongful death while swimming in a hotel pool. Cook County wrongful death lawsuits are filed on behalf of victims who die due to the negligence of another individual.

Visit Suburban Chicago News to read more about the Naperville wrongful death lawsuit.