Every year, hundreds of people are injured in hot tub related accidents, some of them fatally. If you or a loved one were hurt in a hot tub accident, you need a seasoned attorney on your side. Contact our Long Beach hot tub accident lawyer at Madison Law Group to see how we can help you obtain compensation.
Hot tubs are an incredible way to relax. The hot water and jets can work wonders on sore muscles, giving many people a way to wind down from the stress of life. Unfortunately, hot tubs do pose certain risks if they are defective or improperly maintained. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), from the year 2017 to 2021, more than 300 people died from hot tub related accidents, and nearly 13,000 were injured badly enough for an emergency room visit. When injuries occur during hot tub use, you may benefit from speaking to Long Beach hot tub accident lawyer, who can advise you on whether you should pursue compensation from the negligent party.
Property owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of those on their property, including ensuring hot tubs and spas are well maintained. Hotels and resorts sometimes avoid responding to issues with their hot tub and spas, which can lead to injured guests. When this happens, the hotel must be held responsible for the injuries sustained.
Many portable hot tubs installed in homes can also fall victim to poor maintenance or product defects, which greatly increases the risk of injury. Hot tubs can be a wonderful way to relax, but following all safety and maintenance recommendations is important to avoid a potentially fatal accident.
Types of Hot Tubs and Spas
There are three basic types of hot tubs and spas found in hotels, resorts, apartment complexes, and in private backyards. Each has its own benefits and risks.
Portable Hot Tubs
A portable spa is a very broad term that covers many types of hot tubs, some of which aren’t all that portable. The term just implies that the hot tub can be moved, though it might be difficult to do so. These are the types of spas we generally see in someone’s backyard. They range from small inflatable tubs that are truly portable to much larger tubs that weigh thousands of pounds and are made to fit 8-10 people.
Portable spas are self-contained, meaning everything they need to operate is contained within the spa. They are usually built using:
- polyethylene or other plastic
- inflated latex or vinyl
Most tubs today are built with an acrylic shell and a cabinet made of metal or wood.
In-Ground or Custom Hot Tubs
Custom hot tubs are usually made from a permanent material such as gunite or concrete and are designed to fit the need of the user. In-ground hot tubs are a type of custom spa, and as the name implies, they are placed in the ground with the top of the spa located at ground level. Some are even just portable tubs lowered into a vault below the ground.
Some of the more popular materials used are:
- stainless steel
In-ground hot tubs should always be built with a cover or a fence to keep children or other adults from accidentally falling into one.
Swim spas are relatively new and are basically hot tubs that are large enough to swim in. Some are equipped with a special jet that can mimic a current for athletes to swim against.
These can be very beneficial for exercise and relaxation, but they combine the risks of both swimming pools and hot tubs. The risk of drowning is much higher than in smaller spas, so these should always be kept covered or in a safe location that cannot easily be wandered into.
Hot Tub Components
Most hot tubs are made up of the same basic components, all which need to be installed correctly, well-maintained, and inspected frequently. These components include:
- The Base: A secure base holds the entire frame of a hot tub together, creating a sturdy backbone for the other components.
- The Shell: The shell is the “lining” of the spa, usually made of vinyl, acrylic, fiberglass, or a cement-like substance called gunite. The shell is the component that is exposed to water and should be regularly cleaned and inspected to reduce the chances of infection, leaks, and burns.
- The Cabinet: The exterior walls of the hot tub, usually made from wood, metal, plastic, or concrete for in-ground models.
- The Jets: This is what differentiates a hot tub from a pool or bathtub. The jets release water in streams through the entire spa. They must be cleaned and monitored often, as they hold onto bacteria and might also cause burns if they malfunction.
- The Pump: The pump is what moves the water through the plumbing system to the filter and eventually out of the jets.
What Causes Hot Tub Accidents?
Hot tub accidents can happen anywhere. At resorts or spas, the area around a hot tub is often wet and slippery, making slip and fall accidents incredibly common. A slip and fall into a hot tub can lead to head injuries and both fatal and nonfatal drownings, and children are especially susceptible to these dangers.
Some other common causes of hot tub accidents include:
- Defective components: Sometimes hot tubs have defective parts, such as improper insulation or frayed power cords. This can lead to electrocution.
- Poor maintenance: A poorly maintained hot tub can cause burns, electrocutionand infections. Burns typically happen if the jets are not properly cared for, leading to scalding water blowing from the jets.
- Unsafe behavior: Engaging in unsafe or risky behavior around a hot tub can lead to accidental injury or death. This can include roughhousing and alcohol consumption.
- Imbalanced or improper chemical usage: Many hot tubs and spas, especially in hotels or resorts, maintain hot tub cleanliness with toxic chemicals. This can cause allergic reactions and infections if the chemicals are inhaled or come in contact with a person’s skin.
Common Hot Tub Injuries
Most people assume they can relax in a spa or hot tub without worrying about getting hurt. However, a number of things can go wrong, leading to a myriad of possible injuries. Some of the more common are overheating or heat stroke, electrocution, and drowning.
Overheating and Heat Stroke
Obviously, hot tubs involve lots of hot water. And while this can be soothing, it also poses a risk of overheating and heat stroke if the water temperature gets too high or if someone exceeds the recommended time limit inside the hot tub.
Overheating presents a danger of heat stroke and drowning, especially in combination with alcohol. Alcohol can increase drowsiness and reduces the ability to listen to your body’s signals that something might be wrong. Many symptoms of heat stroke coincide with symptoms of alcohol consumption, so many don’t realize they’re overheating until it is too late.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It is a severe condition that happens when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly and the ability to sweat subsides, making it impossible for the body to cool down. During a heat stroke, body temperatures can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. This can result in permanent disability or even death if emergency treatment is not received.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness or coma
- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
- Very high body temperature
If you see someone experiencing these symptoms, take the following steps to ensure their safety:
- Call 911 and request emergency medical assistance
- Do not leave the victim alone
- Move the victim to a shaded, cool area and remove any clothing
- Cool the victim quickly using cold water or an ice bath
- Circulate the air around the victim to speed cooling
- Place cold, wet cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin or soak their clothing in cool water
Time is of the essence when someone is experiencing a heat stroke. It is imperative they receive emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.
To reduce the risk of heat stroke, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that hot tubs should never exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit. They also advise against the use of alcohol while in a hot tub and discourage pregnant women and children from entering a hot tub more than 100 degrees.
It is important to be mindful of the amount of time you spend soaking in a hot tub, and get out if you begin to feel drowsy, lightheaded, nauseous, or dizzy.
It’s fairly common knowledge that water and electricity don’t mix. That is why hot tubs manufactured after the 1970s are equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) that will interrupt the flow of electrical current if they detect signals indicating a risk of electrocution. While GFCIs have significantly decreased the risk of electrocution in hot tubs, there is still a risk in the following circumstances:
- If a hot tub was manufactured before 1980, it may not be equipped with GFCI
- If the wiring within the hot tub is defective or worn
- If there are electrical devices such as televisions and radios near a hot tub, they may be accidentally knocked or dragged into the water
These risks can be reduced by making sure that hot tubs are installed by licensed electricians and are periodically inspected for worn or defective wiring. Any electronics, including cords and outlets, should be kept at least ten feet from a hot tub.
Electrocutions are not always fatal, but can still lead to muscular cramping and paralysis that might leave a victim unable to climb out of the hot tub. If you feel any tingling, muscle cramping, or inability to move, it is an immediate warning sign of possible electrocution, and you should leave the hot tub immediately.
California is the leading state for residential hot tub ownership, and knowing this, it is not surprising that Californians are three times more likely to drown in a hot tub accident than residents of any other state. Long Beach is not immune to these statistics, unfortunately.
The CPSC released a report in 2019 indicating that between 1999 and 2013 there were 427 reported hot tub related deaths. This number is likely much higher in reality, as many drownings go unreported, especially if alcohol or other variables were involved.
Tragically, most of these drownings are children. Young children may fall into a hot tub and be unable to surface. There have also been reports of children’s hair being trapped in filters and pump intakes, holding them under the water.
Those over the age of 65 are also at a higher risk of drowning, as they are more sensitive to high temperatures, which may cause them to become drowsy and doze off while in the water. It can also be more difficult for them to climb in and out of a hot tub, and their risk of a slip and fall accident is much higher than in younger adults.
Drownings can also happen if someone becomes trapped under a hot tub’s lid, if they have consumed alcohol, or if they experience a fall or seizure near the hot tub, causing them to slip under the water’s surface.
Not all drownings are fatal. The CDC defines drowning as the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid. Fatal drownings occur when the drowning results in death. Nonfatal drownings occur when a person survives the incident, but it can still result is serious injuries such as brain damage or other permanent disabilities.
Many injuries happen due to slips and falls in or around the hot tub. These can range from minor scrapes and bruises to broken or fractured bones and serious head injuries. Even minor scrapes are susceptible to infection, especially given the amount of bacteria associated with hot tubs and spas. Even if you sustain a minor injury, you should seek first aid or medical care immediately.
Hot Tubs and Alcohol
While very few things sound better than pouring a glass of wine and relaxing in a hot tub, alcohol poses a number of risks that can lead to terrible hot tub accidents.
Alcohol is a depressant, so it slows the heart rate and blood pressure of the consumer. This, combined with the heat in a hot tub, can cause blood pressure to drop too quickly, which may lead to the consumer losing consciousness while in the water. Additionally, both heat and alcohol cause blood vessels to dilate, which can result in severe injuries such as stroke or heart attack.
Alcohol may also mask the symptoms of hot tub related illnesses. Alcohol can cause dizziness and drowsiness, so someone under the influence may not recognize that those same symptoms appear in those suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
All of these elements can lead to drowning accidents. To reduce the risk of serious injury, having someone else with you is recommended when you’re in a hot tub, especially if alcohol is involved. Having someone else around in case of an emergency could be the difference between life or death.
Children and Hot Tub Accidents
Most hot tub accidents involve children, sadly. The CDC reports that drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged 1-4 in the United States. Additionally, statistics tell us that one child dies every six days in a spa hot tub.
Many hot tub accidents happen because the temperature of the water exceeds the body’s ability to self-regulate. Children are smaller than adults, and therefore they are even more susceptible to heat-related illnesses as their bodies are too small to tolerate the excess warmth caused by hot tubs.
Children are also more likely to suffer burns from hot tubs, as their skin is more sensitive than an adult’s skin. Children may not be as aware of their surroundings and slip and fall into a hot tub, resulting in injuries or drowning. Very young children may enter a hot tub unattended and then not be able to get out due to the water level being over their heads even when standing.
It is imperative to never leave a child unattended around water. Leaving them unsupervised for even a short period of time can end in tragedy.
Seniors and Hot Tub Accidents
Healthcare providers have advised those over the age of 65 to take extra caution around water as they are at a higher risk of losing footing and slipping. Those over the age of 50 are also at risk of heart problems while immersed in hot water.
Those over the age of 65 should reduce the heat of hot tubs to no more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure the water stays below chest level to reduce the chances of overheating. Installing handrails can also help those with limited mobility or stability get in and out of hot tubs safely.
Preventing Accidental Drowning in Hot Tubs
If you have a hot tub on your property, there are a number of things you can do to prevent accidental drownings:
- Place a fence around the hot tub
- Invest in a cover with a lock for when the hot tub isn’t in use
- Consider placing your hot tub indoors, such as within a sunroom or screened-in porch where it can be locked when not in use
- Do not consume alcohol around a hot tub without another adult around
- Reduce the hot tub temperature to below 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- Closely supervise children in and around the hot tub
If you or a loved one were injured in a hot tub accident on someone else’s property, contact the Long Beach hot tub accident attorneys at Madison Law Group to learn more about your rights.
What Should I Do After a Hot Tub Accident?
Following a hot tub accident, you should immediately seek medical care. Even if you think you feel fine, injuries may present themselves hours later. Not only that, but if you wait too long to seek treatment, an insurance company may claim that your injuries were not due to your accident, which can hurt your ability to recover compensation.
Take pictures of your injuries if you can, and hold onto any receipts or bills you receive for your treatment. These will become valuable evidence later if you plan to file a claim. If there were any eyewitnesses, collect their contact information in case their story is needed later.
Finally, consult our Long Beach hot tub accident lawyer at Madison Law Group to learn about your rights and what compensation you may be entitled to.
There are several parties that could be at fault for accidents or injuries that occur in or around hot tubs and spas. These include:
- Property owners: Homeowners, hotels, country clubs, and apartment complexes have a duty to ensure the safety of those on their property, and that includes ensuring hot tubs are kept in a safe location, properly maintained and inspected, and kept at a reasonable temperature.
- Designers and manufacturers: If the accident was due to a design or manufacturing defect, they may be held responsible for any injuries sustained.
- Individual: In some cases, an individual may be responsible for the accident. This might be due to inappropriate behavior in or around a hot tub, or alcohol consumption.
More than one party can be found liable for your accident, so it is a good idea to consult an attorney at Madison Law Group to help determine who is at fault for your injuries.
California Negligence Laws
In California, the plaintiff (the injured party) must be able to show the following elements in order to prove that the defendant (the liable party) was negligent:
- The defendant had a duty of care. In a hot tub accident case, this might be proven by establishing that the hot tub was on the defendant’s property; therefore, they were responsible for the safety of those on their property.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. For example, the property owner had no cover for the hot tub, leaving children or other people vulnerable to falling in. Or maybe they did not monitor the water’s temperature.
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries. For instance, a child falls into a hot tub that has been left uncovered, or maybe you suffered a burn due to the water temperature being too high.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages. You must be able to show that you were injured. This might mean providing evidence, such as photographs of injuries or medical receipts.
Pure Comparative Negligence
California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that you can still receive compensation for your injuries if you share fault for the accident. Even if you are 99% at fault for the accident, you can receive damages for the remaining 1%, but your compensation will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. If you are determined to have damages of $100,000 but are 99% at fault, you will only receive $1,000 for your injuries.
The compensation you receive for your Long Beach hot tub accident claim will vary depending on the type of injuries sustained, how severe they are, and how much they have affected your quality of life and career.
If you were injured in a hot tub accident, you may be entitled to the following damages:
- Medical bills: The cost of hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and treatments add up quickly. You have the right to get compensated for all of this if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.
- Lost wages: If you missed work due to your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for the wages you lost. Additionally, if the injuries will keep you from returning to work or moving forward in your career, you may receive compensation for your loss of earning potential.
- Wrongful death: If you lost a family member due to a hot tub accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to receive compensation for medical expenses, the cost of a funeral, and loss of quality of life.
- Pain and Suffering: You will likely need the help of an attorney to prove pain and suffering damages, as there is not a dollar amount or receipt that can easily be handed to a court or insurance company. This covers things like anxiety and depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other forms of mental and physical suffering.
Most personal injury claims are settled out of court, but there are instances where insurance companies offer low-ball settlements or even try to deny claims altogether. When this happens, you may need to take your claim to court. To ensure you receive the fairest settlement possible, enlist the help of one of Madison Law Group’s attorneys.
A Word About Insurance Companies
Insurance companies will always work for their own best interest. They will do whatever they can to protect their bottom line, including finding whatever loophole they can to get out of paying you a fair settlement. Speak to your attorney before speaking with any insurance company, as they may use your words to try to place fault on you as opposed to the liable party. If they do try to settle with you, never accept their first offer without first receiving legal advice.
The attorneys at Madison Law Group have decades of experience dealing with insurance companies. We will negotiate with them on your behalf to ensure your fair settlement.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on personal injury claims in the state of California is two years. This means that you have two years from the time of the accident to file your claim. After the two year mark, you will not be able to receive any compensation whatsoever for your injuries.
There are a few exceptions to this law, such as accidents involving injuries to a person under the age of 18. In those cases, a child has until they are 18 to file the claim, or two years, whichever comes later.
The statute may also be extended if the victim is incapacitated and unable to physically file a claim within that time frame. In that case, a victim can file a claim once they have returned to proper health.
If you are unsure how much time you have or if the statute of limitations is running out, call Madison Law Group. We will advise you on your options and make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to seek compensation.
Sundance Spas Recall
On December 15, 2022, Sundance Spas recalled several hot tub models after nearly 200 reports of inaccurate temperature readings. While no injuries were initially reported, you may be entitled to compensation if you suffered a burn injury or heat stroke while using a Sundance Spas hot tub.
According to the CPSC: This recall involves JacuzziJ-200, J-300, J-400 and J-500 collection hot tubs and Sundance Spas 680, 780, 880 and 980 Series spas. The model number and serial number are engraved into a silver plate in the equipment bay of the hot tub.
If you own or frequently use a Sundance Spas hot tub, check the model number and visit the link provided above for more information on the recall and how to receive a repair or replacement. If you were injured while using one of these models, contact Madison Law Group to learn about your legal options.
Contact a Long Beach Hot Tub Accident Attorney Today
The last thing anyone wants to worry about when relaxing in a hot tub is the risk of getting hurt. Still, it does happen. If you or a loved one were injured in a hot tub accident, know that the Long Beach hot tub accident attorneys at Madison Law Group are on your side. We have been advocating for victims harmed due to someone else’s negligence for decades, and we want to help you, too.
We can gather evidence, build your case, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. If you’ve been injured and don’t know what to do next, give us a call at (213) 632-5844 or fill out the contact information on our webpage for a free case evaluation.
We will fight for you every step of the way so that you receive the justice you deserve.