Drowning incidents caused by swimming pool or spa drains are not a new occurrence. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission was investigating such tragedies as early as the 1970s.
Regrettably, it would take the deaths of countless children in pools and spas, and until December 19, 2008, for specific legislation addressing these issues to be signed into law. That groundbreaking piece of legislation, one which the drowning lawyers of the Haggard Law Firm were proud to work on, would come to be known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA).
Virginia Graeme Baker was a bright 7-year-old who was recognized as a particularly proficient swimmer by her swim & dive team members. Appallingly, in June of 2002, a hot tub suction drain trapped Virginia underwater. Her mother's efforts, as well as those of two additional male rescuers, failed to free Virginia in time, resulting in her drowning.
After the loss of her young daughter, Nancy Baker became a fierce advocate of pool & spa safety and, more specifically, of pool drain-cover reform. With the sponsorship of State Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who herself had previously introduced and passed laws pertinent to pool safety, her daughter's death was not in vain.
However, before the VGBA was passed, another memorable instance of a young girl falling victim to a pool drain would arise. This time it was Abigail Rose Taylor who lost her life in June of 2007. With Baker's death in recent memory and the tragic nature of Taylor's passing, pool drain entrapments ("suction entrapments") were quickly identified as a critical issue to attack.
A pool drain entrapment is defined as any situation where an individual's hair, limb, clothing, or other becomes 'stuck' in a swimming pool or hot tub ("spa") drain.
For adults, it's easy to doubt the harm that could be done by a pool drain. However, as an investigation completed by the CPSC found, for children such incidents can be quite deadly. Just in the year 2007, 74 total entrapment accidents were reported; of these, 9 victims perished, and children under 10 were identified as the age group most at risk.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Safety Act went into effect in late 2008. Upon its signing, it established strict federal requirements intended to avoid the same pool drain entrapments that had caused the deaths of Baker and Taylor, among countless other victims.
The VGBA chartered specific requisites, more specifically known as ANSI/APSP–7 Standard, with the explicit goal of ending drain entrapment injuries and deaths.
Among the provisions were the need for drains to be "unblockable". If a drain did not fulfill this need, it must employ one of the following:
The entirety of the requirements can be reviewed here.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a pool drain entrapment accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages.
The nature of these incidents often entails substantial physical injuries which can lead to increases financial pressure. In fact, most families simply can't afford the expenses associated with such traumatic injuries. In these cases, victims and their families can leverage the civil justice system to help make them whole once more.
For a free case review, call our 24/7 helpline or fill out the form on this page. Our experienced attorneys will carefully explain your legal options and permit you to make the best choice for yourself and your family.