Now that summer is here, neighborhood swimming pools are filled and children and adults are flocking to the water to keep cool. This brings up the topic of water safety. In the U.S. statistics show that there are about ten non boat related drowning deaths every day. There are more than 300 boating related deaths every year as well. One in five drowning deaths are children age 14 and younger. And drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 4. More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or referral for additional care. Non-fatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning. It is therefore of paramount importance to be careful around bodies of water.
Most neighborhood pools have lifeguards and strict rules of water safety are usually enforced. Nevertheless, accidents happen. Backyard pools are sometimes the most dangerous because they seem safe but there is frequently no one to enforce water safety rules and no lifeguards are in position to save the swimmers if something happens. No one should be allowed to swim alone and all swimmers, especially children, should be supervised by someone with experience. Every pool should be have safety equipment easily available. And children should be supervised around pools. Backyard pools should be properly fenced in to prevent access by children. In addition, swimming pools should be maintained in a safe condition, both in terms of the surrounding structure and the water quality.
Most jurisdictions have strict laws governing swimming pools, both home and commercial. Swimming pool design and manufacture must also conform to safety rules. Recent injuries due to pool drain suction from improperly designed, installed or maintained pool drains have also been reported. When pool manufacturers, installers, management and owners, violate health or safety rules and illness or injuries occur, liability under the law may exist. Most pools are insured either through commercial policies or under homeowner’s policies so compensation may be available. However, proof of liability and damages will invariably require legal counsel. Partner Gene Miller has extensive experience with swimming pool health and safety. Before attending Law School, Mr. Miller was an NVSL, AAU and NCAA swimmer and spent a great deal of time in swimming pools. He was certified by the Red Cross as a Lifeguard and a Swimming Instructor, and then became a Water Safety Instructor and trained lifeguards. He was also a Certified Pool Operator and Swim Team Coach. He also worked for a swimming pool construction company and built and repaired swimming pools. Mr. Miller’s knowledge of swimming pool health and safety places him in a unique position to represent victims of negligence arising out of the use of swimming pools.