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Recreational Water Sports and Personal Injury - Zayouna Law Firm
Jul 22 2023 | Zayouna Admin

Recreational Water Sports and Personal Injury: What You Need to Know

Recreational water sports offer a fun and refreshing experience in the summer, but they also come with inherent risks. From swimming and surfing to boating and diving, these activities can sometimes lead to unexpected accidents and injuries. When such incidents occur, it’s important to understand how personal injury law comes into play. 

By understanding the legal implications and potential recourse, you can take proactive measures to protect your rights and seek appropriate compensation in the event of an injury during recreational water sports activities.

Most Common Injuries in Recreational Water Sports

By understanding the most common injuries associated with recreational water sports, you can take proactive measures to protect yourself and your loved ones. It is crucial to prioritize safety, follow guidelines, use proper equipment, and be aware of your abilities and limitations. Additionally, seeking professional training and guidance in your sport can enhance safety and reduce the risk of injuries.


Drowning is probably the largest concern in water sports and water-related activities. In Ontario, drowning incidents are unfortunately common. According to the Canadian Red Cross, there were 324 “immersion” deaths in Ontario between 2011 and 2015. Most of these immersion deaths (64%) occurred while participating in recreational activities. Drowning incidents are largely avoidable, highlighting the importance of proper life jacket usage and adequate supervision of young children.

Musculoskeletal Injuries

Water sports can result in various musculoskeletal injuries, including fractures, dislocations, sprains, and strains. These injuries often occur due to falls, collisions with other participants or objects, or improper use of equipment. Activities such as water skiing, surfing, and wakeboarding pose a higher risk of traumatic injuries, especially if safety guidelines and precautions are not followed.

Head and Spinal Injuries

Head and spinal injuries, like concussions, can have severe and long-lasting consequences. They can occur due to high-impact collisions, diving into shallow water, or hitting submerged objects. Engaging in activities like cliff diving or diving in unknown waters without proper assessment can significantly increase the risk of such injuries.

Hypothermia and Cold-Related Injuries

In colder climates or during extended water exposure, individuals may be susceptible to hypothermia and cold-related injuries. Prolonged exposure to cold water without appropriate protective gear can result in reduced body temperature, loss of coordination, and impaired judgment, increasing the risk of accidents, hypothermia, and death.

Preventing Recreational Water Sports Injuries

Many injuries that occur during recreational water sports are preventable with the proper precautions and safety measures. By understanding and implementing essential safety guidelines, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while engaging in water sports activities. 

Pool Safety

By number of cases, accidents at swimming pools are less common than in natural bodies of water, but pools are more closely regulated and have some straightforward avenues for accident prevention. Here are some key safety tips to help ensure a safe experience for everyone recreating around public or private pools:

  • Always ensure that there is proper adult supervision when using a pool, especially for children and inexperienced swimmers. 
  • For private pools, there must be a secure fence or enclosure surrounding the pool area. This helps restrict unauthorized access, particularly for young children. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements outlined in the Ontario regulations for pool enclosures.
  • Display clear and visible warning signs near the pool area to inform individuals about potential risks, depth markings, and any specific rules or regulations.
  • Have safety equipment readily available near the pool, including a reaching pole, lifebuoy, and a first aid kit.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the pool to ensure that it is free from hazards. This includes checking the water quality, keeping the pool clean, and ensuring that the pool’s mechanical systems are in good working condition.

Ontario has bills and legislation that govern how pools must be installed, fenced, and maintained. Ontario Regulation 565/90 outlines safety standards for public pools, while Ontario’s Bill 74 governs safety standards for private pools. Owners or managers of the pool are legally responsible for meeting these safety standards to provide a safe environment for all users.

Slip and Fall Prevention

Accidental falls into water are the leading cause of drowning incidents in Ontario. Part of slip and fall prevention falls on the owner or manager of pools, boats, or water-recreation facilities like water parks. These parties have a duty of care to all users to ensure areas are free of hazards that might cause an unexpected fall into the water.

Part of slip and fall prevention also involves taking necessary precautions like wearing proper footwear, using available handrails, minding your steps, and avoiding alcohol consumption while participating in recreational water sports. 

Boating and Jet Ski Safety 

Boating and jet skiing are popular recreational water activities, but they also come with inherent risks. You should always prioritize safety and follow proper guidelines to prevent accidents and injuries. Here are some essential safety tips for boating and jet skiing:

  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) 
  • Obtain proper training, licensing, and certifications
  • Adhere to speed limits and operate the boat or jet ski at a safe speed
  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings
  • Familiarize yourself with the established navigation rules and regulations for the specific waterway or body of water you are in
  • Yield to larger vessels, maintain proper distances, and signal your intentions
  • Never operate a boat or jet ski under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Before heading out, check the weather forecast and be aware of any impending storms or adverse conditions
  • Ensure that your boat or jet ski is equipped with the necessary safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, distress signals, navigation lights, and a functioning horn or whistle.

When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer 

If you have sustained an injury during a recreational water sports activity as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will want to seek legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will evaluate your case, handle insurance claims and advocate on your behalf.

The lawyers at Zayouna Law Firm will provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need. Our experienced team understands the complexities of personal injury cases and will work with you to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Don’t navigate the legal process alone. Contact Zayouna Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step towards securing the compensation you are entitled to.

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