Search Site
Pool & Ocean Accidents

Experienced Honolulu Legal Team Assisting Those Hurt in Pool & Ocean Accidents

lifeguard sitting on chair with megaphone at poolsideFor more than 30 years, the Honolulu attorneys at Shim & Chang have helped victims of pool and ocean accidents. Unfortunately, the beautiful beaches and pools that make Hawaii special for both natives and visitors are also inherently dangerous, especially when those in charge of keeping a swimming area safe are irresponsible. We have successfully represented adults and children seriously injured in near drowning accidents, as well as families who have lost loved ones in various swimming pool and ocean accidents in Hawaii.

Understand Swimming Pool Accidents by a Looking at a Representative Case

In Hawaii, swimming pools are everywhere, in homes, hotels, condominiums, apartments, and community centers. Every child and adult is at risk whenever they jump, dive, or swim in a pool, particularly one that does not comply with swimming pool safety and design standards. In addition to drowning, people have also become quadriplegics after diving into and striking their head against the bottom of a pool.

The Gapero family came to Shim & Chang in need of help. Their daughter, “J,” was in a permanent coma after a near drowning accident at a condominium swimming pool. They had been to several other law firms, but were told they did not have a case because the condo had placed “No Lifeguard on Duty” signs around the pool, and people swim at their own risk. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Shim & Chang in Honolulu were not so dismissive or shortsighted, and looked into the matter further.

The Gaperos’ daughter, “J,” was invited to a pool party at a condo in Maui. They dropped “J” off at the party, but told the adults in attendance that “J” did not know how to swim so “please watch her.” The adults unfortunately got distracted during the party, and no one saw what happened to “J” until it was too late. She was found floating face down in the middle of the pool, seconds from death. The last time anyone saw her, she was sitting on the steps of the pool splashing her feet in the water.

Shim & Chang examined the swimming pool, and immediately identified several defects that contributed to this near drowning:

  • The step “J” was sitting on was paved with a very smooth and slippery glazed tile. We later had an expert test the tile with a piece of “J”‘s swimsuit and found that it was as slippery as ice. Research with several tile manufacturers revealed that the industry makes slip-resistant tiles for pools and spas. In this case, the condo used slip-resistant tile in its Jacuzzi, but not in its pool.
  • The steps were designed and placed in an unsafe location, bordering the shallow end and the drop-off to the deep water. These steps should have been placed completely in the shallow waters.
  • The steps did not have adequate railings to prevent someone from inadvertently slipping into the deep water.
  • The condo did not delineate the break between the shallow end and the drop-off to the deep end with a darker tile line or buoy line. The importance of this safety device is to warn non-swimmers and children where the deeper water begins.
  • The pool drop-off was too steep and violated industry standards. Anyone on the decline from the shallow to deep water would essentially be sucked down to the deep end due to the steepness of the slope, gravity, and the huge volume of water pushing against the person.

None of the other attorneys the Gapero’s contacted considered these defects, hazardous conditions, and inadequate safeguards. Shim & Chang’s personal injury experience, resourcefulness, and reputation for successfully handling swimming pool cases resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement for the Gapero family.

Ocean & Beach Accident Cases Handled by Shim & Chang

Shim & Chang has also handled many cases involving scuba diving accidents, snorkeling accidents, and drowning accidents that occurred at Hawaii beaches or in the open ocean, for example:

  • We successfully represented the wife of an attorney from Colorado whose husband drowned in a scuba diving accident at LaPerouse Bay, Maui. The scuba tour leader had taken him and several other divers into an underwater cave. The group became separated in the cave’s dark caverns, and our client’s husband was not able to find his way out before running out of air. He died on his honeymoon.
  • We also successfully represented the family of a movie executive who signed up for a scuba class at a resort hotel in Maui. The scuba instructors lost contact with him while on an open water dive, and he drowned. The hotel and the scuba tour operator were both held accountable.
  • The Tokuyama family hired our firm to bring a suit against the City and County of Honolulu for the negligence of the lifeguards at Makapu’u Beach. Please read more about this case, which went to trial, on our verdicts page.

Talk to an Attorney that Handles Pool & Ocean Accident Cases

If you have been injured or lost a loved one as the result of a pool or ocean accident, you need representation with the knowledge and dedication to effectively handle these potentially complex cases. Please contact the experienced Honolulu lawyers at Shim & Chang for a free initial consultation. We represent both locals and visitors to any of the Hawaiian Islands.

  • "Shim & Chang were committed to helping my son no matter how long it took. They got the settlement we needed to take care of him for the rest of his life."

Verdicts & Results

The Estate of Mark Tokuyama v. City and County of Honolulu Jury awarded $953,114.57, which at the time was the highest award ever for a drowning case.

  • Death of a mother due to a hospital error

    $7 Million medical malpractice settlement.

  • Brain injury suffered by a teenager in a motor vehicle crash

    $6.5 Million settlement.

Reviews and Ratings
See all reviews
Roy K. S. Chang Attorney Photo
Roy K. S. Chang

With more than 30 years of practical and trial experience handling all types of personal injury cases, Roy K. S. Chang has molded Shim & Chang into a highly creative and innovative law firm that honors the Hawaiian spirit of aloha. He has achieved an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the national directory of attorneys, indicating…

Harvey M. Demetrakopoulos Attorney Photo
Harvey M. Demetrakopoulos

With his unique name and background, Harvey M. Demetrakopoulos' character and experience have greatly added to the creative and innovative approach of Shim & Chang. He has been with the firm since 1996, exclusively handling personal injury cases. Raised in Honolulu, Harvey graduated from Kaimuki High School and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa…

 Attorney Photo

Alvin Tong Shim, Founder of Shim & Chang In Memoriam of Alvin Tong Shim, November 10, 1923 - June 24, 2006 The Spirit of Aloha Born in Wailuku, Maui on November 10, 1923, Alvin Tong Shim was the second child and first son of Henry and Helen Shim. As a young boy, he earned money…

Contact us

Quick Contact Form