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Avoiding drowning deaths

As many Georgia residents know, drowning deaths may be purely accidental without liability. Some are due to negligence on the part of swimming facility owners ranging from public pools to rural swimming areas. Laws mandate that owners or operators of such facilities take care to ensure pool safety, and authorities are able to close noncomplying pools.

Swimming pools are regulated by state and federal standards aimed at protecting the public. A federal law enacted in 2007 focuses on the number of childhood deaths associated with public pools and spas. Its aim is to decrease deaths linked to suction entrapment at a pool's drain. It requires that drain cover manufacturers adhere to the requirements listed in the act and also ensures that pool operators are compliant. By having the regulations in force, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the authority to close noncomplying public pools and spas.

Other accidents in the water occur when individuals lose control of water sporting equipment such as jet skis or fall while water skiing. Although the mishap may lead to drowning, it might also occur when a boat hits the individual. In this case, the boater might be forced to offer proof he or she was obeying proper boating etiquette or that drugs or alcohol was not involved. Lifeguards are one way a pool operator may safeguard against premises liability. If the lifeguard lacks appropriate training or provides inadequate coverage leading to a drowning death, the pool's operator may be held liable.

If an individual drowns due to faulty pool maintenance, inadequate supervisory personnel or noncomplying drain covers, the family may seek to recover pecuniary damages from the pool's operator or owner. An attorney may review the pool's use of safety precautions and assist the family in filing a wrongful death suit. Source: Pool Safety, 'Requirements for Public Pools" http://www.poolsafely.gov/industry-operators-professionals/public-pool-requirements/

Source: Findlaw, "Drowning", December 16, 2014

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