A severe injury to your neck or spine can be amongst the worst injuries a human can withstand. If you did it at a swimming hole, hotel pool or at the pier on vacation, you might play it down as minor and look to continue your summer fun.

Meanwhile, you could have damaged crucial vertebrae, slipped a disc or suffered partial or complete paralysis. This can lead to time off work, therapy, and possibly even invasive surgery and expensive medical bills. At worst, it means loss of limb control and long-lasting effects for the rest of your life.

Some tips for avoiding this trouble when diving and swimming this summer:

  • Always put your feet in first to test the depth and slowly enter, checking for submerged obstacles every time – objects may have moved or shifted since you last swam.
  • Never dive without checking what lies beneath the surface — “sports” and “falls” make up about 40 percent of all causes of serious spinal injuries.
  • Stay away from drugs, alcohol or other intoxicants as these can make risky behavior more likely and slow your ability to respond in an emergency.
  • Watch out for trips, slips, running around the edge or on diving boards. Some injuries occur around the pool, not in it.
  • Make an informed decision on safety. Are there pool depth indicators, other swimmers, lifeguards, first aid kits or fencing?

In the event of injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, and not to move yourself or the injured person after the incident. The speed of a human diving into the water from above is about 15 feet per second – so if the water depth was only a few feet deep, then the impact could happen before you have time to correct yourself. Being overly cautious after the collision is encouraged if it means early detection and lessening any potential further injury.

It could be that a hotel owner, landowner, local council or water authority were delinquent in managing the risk of injury. Those responsible for the waterway might be liable for your pain and suffering through a personal injury lawsuit. Collecting evidence from a medical professional will be an essential first step to making any claim for compensation.