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The Rohrstaff Law Firm

The Rohrstaff Law Firm

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Swimming Pools

We often think of summer as a carefree time when children spend hours each day playing with friends at the pool. While that is true for many, it is also true that every year, many children are injured or drown in swimming pools.

A child can get lost in a crowd when lifeguards are inattentive or when the owner of a pool has not staffed the pool with enough lifeguards or with lifeguards who are poorly trained. If a lifeguard is provided, it is the responsibility of the pool's owner and operator to provide enough lifeguards with the proper training to tend to the swimmers.

If a child is injured or drowns at a swimming pool that provides lifeguards, who is responsible? Is it the lifeguard herself, who should have been watching the swimmers? Is it the owner or operator of the pool, who should have provided better-trained lifeguards? Is it the on-site supervisor of the pool, who should have made sure the lifeguards were not chatting with each other instead of watching the swimmers? What if the swimming pool is owned by the county or city? Does that change who can be held responsible?

Children can also be injured or drown because of improper grates over drains at the bottom of a pool, even in the shallow wading-pool area where young children play. And the children who are injured or who drown are not just the very young or those who are not strong swimmers. Swimsuits of older children-even teens-can get caught in the grates at the bottom of a swimming pool. In Virginia, a young child who is injured or who drowns in a swimming pool is never at fault.

A federal law was passed in 2007 requiring swimming pools and spas to have proper safety grates by December 2008. Of course, the law by itself is not the whole answer when a child is injured or drowns because of a faulty or missing safety grate.

If a child is injured by a faulty or missing grate at the bottom of a swimming pool, who is responsible? The manufacturer of the drain? The installer of the drain? The lifeguard who was not paying attention? The owner of the pool who did not fix the malfunctioning drain? The parent who allowed the child to swim in the pool? All of them? None of them?

If you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been injured or who drowned in a swimming pool.

Sandra Rohrstaff
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Virginia Child Injury and Elder Abuse Attorney