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On warm Texas days, residents often find refuge and relaxation by taking a swim in a nearby pool. While pools, in general, offer a considerable risk to those who own them and those who swim within them, there is one hidden danger that is especially troubling: electrocution. A pleasant swim can quickly turn into a painful or even deadly experience if the swimmer encounters an electric current while in the water. Even if you’re not actually in the pool, the chance for a painful or fatal shock greatly increases when you are on a wet surface of any kind.
Signs of Electric Shock in a Swimming Pool
According to the CPSC, the most common symptoms of electric shock are tingling, muscle cramps, and difficulty moving. Commonly, people who have been shocked have reported feeling as if there is something holding them in place while in the pool. As an onlooker, you may notice that swimmers are becoming noticeably unsettled or panicking, while, simultaneously, others have become passive or motionless in the water.
Underwater lights can be a telltale sign: if they are flickering or have turned on/off without any human input, there is a strong chance that the lights’ wiring has been compromised and the electric current is flowing into the water.
What Should I do in the event of an electrical shock?
If you are in the pool
Remain calm and move away from where you felt the shock. Be wary that you are not moving towards the source. When exiting the pool, avoid using a metal ladder at all costs. Touching metal may greatly increase the risk of electric shock.
After sustaining an electric shock, you may want to visit the hospital. Even if you may feel fine, strong electric shocks have the potential to affect the rhythm of your heartbeat. An improper heart rhythm has the potential to be life-threatening.
If you are outside the pool
Do not attempt to rescue anyone from the pool before the power is shut off. Rescuers often turn into victims by jumping in or reaching out to grab them with a metallic object. The water is just as dangerous to you as it is to them. Shutting off all power flowing into the pool is vital. Call 911 as soon as possible. The American Red Cross recommends using a fiberglass rescue hook (a common safety feature at public pools) to bring the victim to the deck. When doing so, exercise extreme caution not to touch the water.
Document the Incident
When seeking recovery for a swimming pool electrocution, it is important to have evidence of the event. If you can, take pictures of the pool and the surrounding electrical equipment that may have been a contributing factor to the incident. Be sure to take photographs of any frayed cords or suspicious appliances. If you or a loved one goes to the hospital, keep records of the injuries that you sustained and the treatments that the doctors recommended.
What to do to Ensure a Pool is Safe
Unfortunately, if you do not own the pool, there is nothing you can control about the electric system. Your only options are to inquire about recent inspections to the pool’s wiring and to keep an eye out for any above-ground risks, like hanging lights or extension cords.
If you own a pool, it is advisable to have a certified electrician conduct an inspection. It is also wise to have a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GCFI) present. This interrupter will turn off the electricity and help prevent potential electric shocks in the pool.
What Causes Electrocution in the Pool?
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), electric shock is most commonly caused by old electrical wiring, electrical appliances coming into contact with pool water, and unground electric appliances.
Over time, moisture and exposure to the elements will deteriorate the protective coating around electric wiring. When this wiring is exposed to water, electricity can flow into the pool and shock swimmers—even if the individuals are not swimming near the wire itself. A faulty wire anywhere will make the entire pool dangerous.
Electrical Appliances or Extension Cords coming into contact with pool water
Any electrical appliance that makes contact with pool water poses a great threat to swimmers in the pool. Extension cords that run across the pool deck can easily be pulled into the water by accident, causing a great deal of harm to those within the pool. This also means that hanging string lights too low over a pool, while it may look nice, is extremely dangerous.
Ungrounded Electrical Appliances
For an appliance to be “ground,” there must be a wire attached to it that connects directly to the earth. An unground appliance may have electricity flowing out of it erratically. If that electricity comes into contact with pool water, disaster may follow.
Filing a Swimming Pool Electrocution Claim
Despite being aware of the dangers and knowing what actions to take to save yourself or a victim of electric shock in the swimming pool, an electric shock may be out of your control. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by electric shock in a swimming pool, you may be able to seek compensation. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the opposing party may differ.
If it was your own pool, and a certified electrician recently inspected the nearby electrical wiring or appliances, the electrician may be liable for a negligence suit. As a certified professional, the electricians are held to a high standard for their work. By failing to meet this standard and approving an unsafe electric situation near a pool as safe, the electrician or the company that employs them could be liable for injuries sustained by swimmers who got electrocuted.
If it was a public pool or one within an apartment complex, the owners might be liable. As the owner of the pool, they have a responsibility to ensure that it is regularly inspected and safe to swim in. By allowing visitors to enter the pool without stopping them or warning them of the present danger of the shock, they are failing to meet this responsibility.
You May be Eligible to Seek Compensation
If the electrocution that injured you or a loved one was the fault of someone else, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible party and/or negotiate a private settlement. The best strategy in many cases is to file a lawsuit in order to force the responsible party to negotiate a settlement. When calculating how much to ask for in damages, you need to think long-term. You are also entitled to damages for your pain, suffering, and other intangible losses. These may be far greater than your award for medical expenses and lost work time. Two main types of personal injury damages are generally available under Texas law:
- Economic: medical bills, time off work due to injury, and injury-related out-of-pocket expenses, etc.
- Non-economic: physical pain, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of daily activities due to your injury
TELL ZINDA LAW GROUP ABOUT YOUR CASE
If have you suffered an injury, you could easily feel overwhelmed. We can help you sort through the details of your case and identify what legal options you may have. Was the property owner at fault for not ensuring proper inspection of the pool? Was the electrician you hired ignoring obvious warning signs for electricity flowing into the pool? The answers to these questions are important in your personal injury case.
You need experienced representation in your pool electrocution case to ask the right questions. Zinda Law Group provides compassionate representation for a variety of injury cases, including pool electrocution. Our Personal Injury Attorneys proudly serve clients throughout Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
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