How to Protect Your Family from Swimming Pool Injuries

For many of us, swimming pools are an essential part of summer and our family vacations. Unfortunately, they can also put swimmers — especially children — in serious danger.

Before you take your family to a pool at a park, hotel, country club, or friend’s home, it’s important to understand the risks. Keep reading to learn about those risks as well as several important steps you can take to protect your loved ones.

Roughly 4,000 Americans Drown Each Year

Drowning can happen to anyone, although children run the highest risk. The CDC’s statistics on drowning deaths are staggering:

  • After car crashes, drowning kills more children between ages one and four than any other cause
  • One in five people who die in swimming pools are under the age of 14
  • For every fatality, another five children need emergency medical services

Even when victims survive, drowning incidents often cause serious brain damage and other severe injuries, which can result in extensive medical treatment. Some victims even require regular medical care for life.

How to Keep Your Family Safe During Pool Season

As the temperatures warm, many of us flock to both public and residential swimming pools. These tips can keep your safe when you and your loved ones hit the water.

  • If you own a pool, make sure you comply with statewide and municipal safety rules, including rules for pool drains.
  • Swimmers with long hair should put their hair up or have it covered to avoid hair entrapment in submerged suction outlets.
  • Likewise, loose clothing and jewelry could become entrapped in a submerged suction outlet.
  • Remove pool floats and toys when the pool isn’t in use since these items can entice children.
  • Keep your pool gate closed and locked when you’re not using the pool.
  • Never let children use a pool unless a responsible adult supervises them.
  • People who don’t have strong swimming skills should wear a lifejacket or a Coast Guard-approved flotation device when near water.
  • Learn basic lifesaving skills and CPR.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while swimming and when supervising children who are swimming.

While these practices can’t prevent every swimming pool injury, they can help minimize the threat of drowning and might save someone’s life.

Swimming Pool Claims Require Skilled Legal Representation

After a serious swimming pool injury, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Your family might face significant medical bills associated with the victim’s emergency treatment and rehabilitation. If the injuries were fatal, you’ll likely struggle with grief and anger while planning an unexpected funeral. Rather than try to manage your legal claims amid all these stresses, it’s typically in your best interest to contact an experienced swimming pool injury lawyer for help.

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A swimming pool claim might involve multiple defendants: a negligent pool owner, the manufacturers and retailers of defective pool equipment, and other parties.

Pool Owners Have a Duty to Protect People from Harm

While different rules apply to public and residential swimming pools, most pool owners must at least construct a 48-inch fence around their pool and meet the requirements of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. Federal, state, and local laws and regulations also apply to swimming pools. If a pool owner violates these rules and someone gets hurt or dies as a result, the owner might be financially responsible.

RELATED ARTICLE: Firm Resolves Case for $3.25 Million for Brain Injured Child

Premises liability claims, which focus on a property owner’s failure to protect a victim, can be very complex. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the property owner, their obligation to keep you safe or warn you of hazards can vary.

For example, if you’re a guest at a hotel, the hotel must keep its swimming pool reasonably safe for your use and warn you of hidden dangers. However, if you hop a fence and take a dip in your neighbor’s pool, they might not owe you any duty to protect you or warn you about risk.

If you need help understanding your legal rights in a premises liability claim, contact the experienced attorneys at Phelan Petty right away.

Defective Drains and Other Pool Equipment Can Put Swimmers at Risk

You might be shocked to hear that pool drains can cause drownings. Pool drain and circulation systems use powerful suction to keep swimming pools clean. Unfortunately, pool drains that do not comply with applicable safety standards may pose hair, limb or clothing entrapment hazards. If a swimmer’s hair or body gets caught against the drain cover over a suction outlet, the swimmer is unlikely to be able to free himself or herself, resulting in drowning deaths or catastrophic near-drowning injuries.

In response, the federal government and other agencies passed anti-entrapment rules for swimming pool drains. While most public pools comply with these safety regulations, there are still some residential and commercial pools that contain dangerous, non-compliant drain covers. A safe “anti-vortex” drain cover is often dome-shaped so that hair and clothing cannot become entrapped behind it and so that it is not flush with the suction pipe.

Additionally, some pool drain systems are defective or poorly maintained. In 2011, the U.S. government recalled roughly 1 million pool drain covers due to entrapment risks. However, it’s very unlikely that all these unsafe drain covers got replaced. Furthermore, even modern drain systems that comply with safety rules can corrode and weaken over time, making them more hazardous.

In addition to claims against a negligent pool owner, drowning victims and their families might have product liability claims against the manufacturer or retailer of a dangerous or defective pool drain system. If your loved one died or suffered serious injuries because a pool drain trapped them, you should contact a product liability lawyer for help immediately.

Pool drain injury claims involve plenty of investigation and highly technical analysis. When we handle these types of cases at Phelan Petty, we carefully investigate the circumstances of the injury, consult with experts, and sort through the facility’s maintenance records and accident reports. Once we have a clear understanding of our clients’ liability claims, we aggressively pursue those claims and demand justice for the victim.

Phelan Petty: Experienced Swimming Pool Injury Lawyers

At Phelan Petty, we know that swimming pool injury claims require sophisticated analysis and dedicated representation. Unlike many Virginia personal injury law firms, we specialize in handling a small number of complex injury cases so we can devote our time and resources to helping the most seriously injured victims.

If someone you love suffered serious harm in a drowning incident, contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation. You can get in touch with us by either completing our online contact form or calling us at 866.249.3164.


Callahan, P. (2011, May 26). Drain-cover recall may close many pools. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from

Callahan, P. (2011, February 7). The danger that lurks underwater. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from

Unintentional drowning: Get the facts. (2016, April 28). U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.