Having your own backyard pool is a fabulous luxury on those hot summer days, but it is also a tremendous responsibility and a potential liability. The crystal blue water sparking in the sunlight is irresistibly enticing for small children. Under the principle of premises liability, homeowners who have pools in their yard may be held liable for injuries resulting from negligence in keeping the pool area safe. Backyard swimming pools are under the legal category of “attractive nuisances,” which typically means that the homeowner is liable for a child’s injuries in a swimming pool accident unless there was a fenced with a secure gate designed to keep people and children out of the pool area.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017, at least 163 children younger than age 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas, according to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation, a Pool Safely campaign partner. Of the 163 reports, 112 of the victims — nearly 70 percent — were children younger than age five.” On average, the USA Swimming Foundation reports, 10 people drown every single day.
If you or someone you care about has been injured or lost a loved one in a residential pool accident, you may be able to hold the homeowner financially liable for those losses.
Federal backyard pool safety requirements
The Virginia Graeme Baker Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act is a federal law which has guidelines that swimming pools must follow. This law, which was passed in 2008, is named for Virginia Graeme Baker, the seven-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. Ms. Baker got caught in the powerful suction in the hot tub and was held under water by the vacuum’s power. This law includes minimum standards to pool and spa drain covers, vents and drainage systems, and requires an automatic pump shut-off system.
Pool safety requirements in Tennessee and Georgia
Georgia has swimming pool fence laws designed to protect children from accessing a pool when people are not around. The fence around the pool must be at least four feet high and the entry gate must be installed so that it opens outward, away from the pool. The latches must be self-closing and mounted at least four feet from the ground. These are just some of the minimal safety requirements for private pools in Georgia. (International Swimming Pool and Spa Code)
In Tennessee, Katie Beth’s Law (TN Code § 68-14-804) requires pool alarms to be installed and used in private pools. Pool alarms are motion detecting devices equipped with an alarm that alerts the homeowner that someone is in the pool who should not be there. The law also requires that any time an inspection is required for the installation for a pool, the inspector may not approve the wiring unless it includes a pool alarm system. The law is named for Katie Beth, the 17-month-old granddaughter of state Senator Charlotte Burkes, D-Cookeville, who sponsored the bill. The toddler drowned when she slipped away from her mother’s view and got into the pool in the backyard of her home.
When homeowners factor in the cost of maintaining the pool, they should also factor in the cost of insurance. Unless the proper safety precautions such as pool alarms, fences with locked gates are taken to prevent people from accessing the pool who should not be there, homeowners can be held liable even when someone is injured who is swimming in the pool without permission.
The legal principles of premises liability are complicated, but an experienced Chattanooga premises liability attorney from Wagner & Wagner is prepared to represent you when you have sustained an injury on someone else’s property because of negligence.
At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, our skilled Chattanooga personal injury lawyers are her to fight for compensation for clients injured in accidents on other people’s property caused by the negligence of another person. If you have suffered a serious injury because of negligence, you may call our office today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all the surrounding counties. We are here for you.
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