Think before you jump | Bolt Burdon Kemp Think before you jump | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Think before you jump

As the summer gets hotter we all yearn to cool off in the water and have some fun by jumping into the pool or the sea or spending a day at a water park.  Unfortunately amongst the fun there can be devastating consequences and the recent accident that happened to British holidaymaker David Briffault, has brought these risks to people’s attention in recent weeks.

David Briffault was on holiday in Spain when he was injured in an accident at the Aqualandia Water Park in Benidorm, Spain.  He was sliding head-first down a water slide into shallow water causing him to break his neck.  Similar injuries can be sustained when diving into shallow water or diving into water where there is a submerged hazard.  In recent years ‘tombstoning’ (the act of jumping in a straight, upright vertical posture into the sea or other body of water from a high jumping platform, such as a cliff, bridge or harbour edge) has become a popular activity, especially in coastal regions such as Cornwall.  But sometimes this has potentially tragic consequences..

One of the risks that these types of activities carry is that when the water is unexpectedly shallow, or there are submerged hazards people can hit their head on the seabed, bottom of the pool, or hidden objects with such force that it may fracture their neck.  This can damage their spinal cord paralysing them from the neck down.

As specialist spinal injury solicitors we understand the devastating consequences a spinal cord injury can have on people’s lives.  Currently 11.6% of spinal cord injuries are caused by sport and recreational activities which includes accidents caused by diving into shallow water and in water parks.  Mr Davies, a consultant spinal surgeon, from University Hospital Southampton has recently commented on the dangers of these sorts of activities.  In his experience, rarely a year goes by when he has not treated the consequences of shallow diving. He said: “I have just recently operated on my first patient of the summer who fell foul of this.”

Holidays, water parks and pools are designed to provide excitement and fun, but try to make sure you are following any guidance provided.  Of course, undertaking these activities will always carry an element of risk.  However it is important to remember that places such as water parks have a duty to make sure that they are safe for the people who use them by undertaking risk assessments and implementing reasonable steps to minimise these risks.

We would always encourage anyone who has been involved in an accident who has suffered a spinal injury to seek specialist legal advice in order to investigate whether there is a potential claim.  Often people assume that they can’t claim because the activity they were taking part in carried an element of ‘risk’ however this is not the case.  Just because you accept an activity is risky does not mean that you accept someone else’s negligence.

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