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Swimming: Popular But Dangerous Summer Fun

SWIMMING: POPULAR BUT DANGEROUS SUMMER FUN

Despite numerous public education and awareness campaigns, outreach efforts to offer swimming lessons and CPR courses, and federal legislation (see below), injuries and fatalities from swimming remain disturbingly high. Fatal drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-14, and the biggest cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 1-4. In addition, for every one child who dies from drowning, five receive emergency department care for non-fatal submersion injuries. The Centers for Disease Control found that from 2005-2009, an average of 3,533 unintentional drowning deaths occurred annually.

Some of the injuries sustained at pools are severe, life-altering events. Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can occur when a swimmer dives into an area that is too shallow and hits his or her head, or if a diver hits his or her head on a diving board while attempting a dive or flip. Spinal cord injuries can occur from similar accidents, from unsafe water slides, from pool-side flips gone horribly wrong, and from diving board mishaps. These kind of injuries can have life-long consequences, sometimes requiring constant medical care and supervision.

VIRGINIA GRAEME BAKER POOL AND SPA SAFETY ACT

The Act is a federal law that was signed by President Bush in 2007 and went into effect in 2008. It requires anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices for every drain cover manufactured, distributed or entered into commerce in the United States. The law is named after Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7 year old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. Virginia Graeme Baker drowned due to the suction entrapment of a faulty drain cover in a hot tub. Her mother worked tirelessly to lobby for legislation to mandate a change in the drain covers in pools and spas so that such a tragedy never occurred again.

The Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) launched the "Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives" campaign to help implement the requirements of the Act and to support industry compliance. To find out more about the "Pool Safely" campaign, go to poolsafely.gov.

POOL OWNER LIABILITY

The liability for both public and private pools is categorized as premises liability. Under this theory, people fall into three classes: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Visitors to public pools are typically considered invitees, and the owner must maintain the pool to ensure that it is reasonably safe. Guests of private pools can be considered licensees, to whom a pool owner owes a duty to warn of any hazards or dangers not readily apparent.

Although trespassers are not typically owed a duty of care, under the attractive nuisance doctrine, a pool owner must make reasonable efforts to prevent children from entering the pool. Such efforts have been held by courts to include erecting a fence--sometimes with a locked gate--around a pool.

RECOVERY

As mentioned above, swimming pool accidents can be life-altering tragedies. Recovery needs to encompass economic and non-economic damages, and the immediate and future needs of the person injured as well as those of his or her family. Typically, recovery for a swimming pool injury can include: compensation for current and future medical expenses, treatment, and rehabilitation; lost wages from work and any other out-of-pocket expenses; and damages for pain and suffering. If the accident resulted in drowning, recovery would seek wrongful death damages.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you or someone you know has been injured at a swimming pool, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free evaluation of your case.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

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