WATER INJURY LAWYERS: VIRGINIA GRAEME BAKER ACT
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While swimming pools and spas are fun places to visit, they can cause many injuries if swimmers fail to follow safety protocols while in or around the water. Whether a swimming pool accident is the fault of the swimmer or the pool owner matters little when lives are drastically changed as a result. Unfortunately, many swimming pool accident victims suffer from debilitating injuries or even death, and their families must deal with the consequences afterwards.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Act was passed to force pool and spa owners to install safety features that decrease swimmers’ risk of death or injury. Although the Act has been helpful in decreasing entrapment accidents, many swimmers still sustain water injuries every year.
what is the virginia graeme baker act?
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was enacted by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on December 19, 2007. The law was named after Virginia Graeme Baker, who died after sustaining a pool suction-drain injury in June 2002 when the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water.
The Act was designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas. It also aimed to reduce child drownings and to educate the public on the importance of constant supervision of children in and around water. After her death, the Consumer Product Safety Commission staff began investigating all reported incidents of suction entrapment incidents in the 1970’s. Such incidents included entrapments of hair, bodies, limbs, eviscerations, and disembowelments. The Commission found nearly 100 entrapments. Individuals below the age of five had the highest frequency of entrapment reports.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Act requires that spas and pools have certain features to reduce the risk of entrapment to swimmers. Drains are now required to be un-blockable. Pool owners can keep a drain un-blockable by using large aspect covers, long channels, large outlet grates, or circulation designs that do not include fully submerged suction outlets.
If a pool or spa does not have an un-blockable drain, it must have other safety features that minimize the likelihood of suction entrapment. These new requirements have proven to minimize drownings in pools and spas; in fact, throughout the past 10 years, the pool and spa industry has seen great improvements in water safety and drowning prevention. The most signficiant achievement is that from the time the Act went into effect, there have been very few drain entrapment-related deaths involving children in public pools and spas; overall, the Act contributed to a 17% decrease in fatal drownings among young children.
Despite these successes, water accidents still happen. If you or a loved one were injured in a pool or spa, you should contact a pool safety lawyer. An injury attorney may be able to help you evaluate the facts of your case and determine if your accident site’s owner is liable for failing to meet the proper standards of care under the Act.
WHO IS MOST AT RISK FOR WATER INJURIES?
Even though every swimmer is at risk of suction entrapment or drowning, there are some factors that may increase your chances of experiencing this kind of accident; for example, the Global Report on Drowning indicates that age is one of the major risk factors contributing to a drowning accident. Globally, the highest drowning rates are among children 1-4 years, followed by children 5-9. Unfortunately, many of these drownings are a result of poor supervision, lack of preparation, or reckless behavior.
Males are also especially at risk of drowning, with twice the overall mortality rate of females. Many experts claim that these higher rates among males are due to riskier and more dangerous behavior around bodies of water. Increased access to a swimming pool, like those in residential back yards, also raise a person’s likelihood of drowning.
State drowning numbers have continued to rise as more Americans flock to spas and pools to escape the summer heat; as more people install swimming pools and hot tubs in their backyards, increased risks of injury or death are sure to follow. Due to the seriousness of water injuries, it is imperative that individuals and families know the risks associated with swimming pools and take the appropriate safety measures to save lives.
Unfortunately, preventing all water accidents and injuries is likely impossible. If you or a loved one was injured in a swimming pool or spa, you should contact a pool accident lawyer to help you assess the facts and merits of your case.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON WATER INJURIES?
Even though the Virginia Graeme Baker Act has had a positive effect on swimmer safety, water accidents still happen every day in the United States. Too many of these water injuries are severe and debilitating for victims. These injuries not only affect the victims, but their families as well because many survivors require long-term care after an accident.
There are many different injuries that a water accident victim may sustain, ranging in severity and permanency. Knowing what injuries victims commonly sustain can help raise awareness about the importance of pool and spa safety. Water accident victims commonly suffer from the following water injuries:
- Memory loss
- Brain injury
- Bone fractures and breaks
- Cuts, lesions, and punctures
- Retinal dislocation
- Spinal injury
- Neck injuries
- Swimmer’s knee
- Swimmer’s shoulder
- Swimmer’s ear
The types of injuries that a victim sustains may vary depending on the specifics of their particular incident. However, health and safety organizations across the country recognize that many water accident victims exhibit similar injuries and symptoms after an accident. It is imperative that individuals and families alike know the risks of pools and spas in order to prevent disastrous accidents and consequences.
If you or a loved one was injured in a pool or spa, you should contact a pool injury lawyer as soon as possible. Once hired, a lawyer may be able to help you determine who and what caused your water-related injuries.
DO I HAVE A CLAIM IF I SUSTAINED WATER INJURIES?
If you or a loved one was injured in a swimming pool or spa accident, you may be able to file a legal claim against the responsible party. Depending on the specifics of your claim, you may have multiple avenues for redress; however, the most common legal theory in water accident claims is focused on the tort of negligence. In order to successfully assert a negligence claim, you must be able to prove four things:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The plaintiff suffered an injury.
- The defendant’s breach caused that injury.
Typically, courts will require you to present adequate evidence showing that all four of the aforementioned elements were met; many courts specifically request additional evidence to satisfy the fourth causation-based element. A plaintiff may assert a negligence suit against a pool owner, lifeguard company, parent, or any other individual that was tasked with supervising the pool or victim. If the pool’s owner failed to follow the guidelines required under the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, you may be able to assert a premises liability claim seeking damages for the failure; if the drain itself was defective and caused drowning or entrapment, you may be able to sue the drain’s manufacturer under a product liability claim.
Every jurisdiction has different laws that govern the requirements for personal injury cases that are heard within its borders. If you are seeking to file a claim for a drowning or entrapment accident, you should contact a pool and spa injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney may be able to help you file your claim within your jurisdiction’s statute of limitations and seek compensation from the responsible party.
GET HELP FROM ZINDA LAW GROUP’S POOL AND SPA INJURY LAWYERS
Swimming pool and spa water accidents can be frightening and devastating for victims, for they can cause severe and permanent injuries. Water injury claims regarding such accidents can involve complex issues that require extensive legal analysis. Some water injury cases can be brought under many different legal theories and, thus, can be difficult to litigate. I
if you were injured in a swimming pool or spa accident, you should contact a lawyer who handles personal injury cases as soon as possible. An experienced attorney may be able to help you assess liability, allocate fault, and seek compensation accordingly.
At Zinda Law Group, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible for your injury. Zinda Law Group can provide you with personalized and quality consultation about the specifics of your legal claim, starting with an initial, free case evaluation. Moreover, the sooner you contact our office, the better we may be able to serve you.
If you or a loved one was injured in a swimming pool or spa, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our pool safety lawyers. If we take your case, you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.