Drowning Accident Lawyers
Summer is the season where children and adults alike seek refuge from sweltering heat by taking a plunge in a pool or body of water. But a lazy afternoon at the lake or beach or a fun-filled summer evening at the neighbors’ house can turn disastrous in an instant. A drowning can happen suddenly and with little warning: it only takes about two minutes for a submerged child to lose consciousness and four minutes for a submerged child to sustain permanent brain damage. While most drowning incidents occur in pools and hot tubs, a drowning can technically occur in any amount of water that is sufficient to cover a person’s mouth and nose.
Anyone is capable of drowning, including both children who do not know how to swim as well as adults who are too inebriated or impaired. Statistics show that:
- According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in Arizona, California, and Florida, drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children ages 5 years old and younger.
- Sixty-five percent of pool drownings and near-drownings involving children happened in pools owned by immediate family members, and thirty-three percent happened at a pool owned by a relative or close friend.
- Most children who drown or suffer another pool-related accidents were being supervised by at least one parent when the incident happened.
- Very few pool accident incidents and drownings occur as a result of a child trespassing onto another’s property.
Would I Need Compensation After a Drowning?
If a loved one or child unexpectedly drowns, you and your family can be suddenly faced with expenses and losses that you may be ill-prepared to handle. Funeral and burial costs are just some of the more obvious losses:
- If the deceased was treated by emergency personnel or hospital staff before passing, you can be responsible for those expenses;
- If the deceased contributed income to the household, lost wages must be considered. In most every case, the expected future earnings of the deceased should also be considered;
- The mental pain and anguish you and the surviving family members suffered and the loss of the companionship of the deceased.
Is Someone Else at Fault for My Loved One’s Drowning?
Determining if someone else is at fault for a drowning requires a careful investigation into the facts and circumstances of your particular case. Whether another person is at fault for the drowning will depend on:
- The location of the drowning (at a residential pool, at a public location, or somewhere else);
- If the drowning happened on private property, whether the drowning victim was trespassing;
- If the drowning occurred on private property, what steps the property owner took to either deter children from coming onto his or her property or to protect children from accessing the pool without adult supervision;
- If the drowning victim was an adult, any negligent or careless acts the victim did that contributed to the drowning (for example, it may be relevant whether an adult was intoxicated before he or she drowned in a lake).
TYPES OF DROWNING ACCIDENTS
Fatal drownings and severe drowning-related accidents occur frequently occur in pools. Some of these accidents involve young children or toddlers falling in unintentionally. About 60% of drowning deaths among children occur in swimming pools. Other accidents may be the result of horseplay or inability to swim. Practice safe swimming habits by understanding your swimming competency and swimming with a friend or partner whenever possible.
Approximately 50-75% of drownings occur in open water such as oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds. These accidents can happen for numerous reasons. For instance, strong riptides may carry a person out into the water. Some accidents occurring in lakes and ponds also involve alcohol or drug use.
Surprisingly, a significant number of drowning-related accidents occur within a person’s own home. In fact, approximately one person each day drowns in a bathtub, hot tub, or spa in the United States. These accidents may occur as a result of alcohol or substance abuse. These accidents may also occur after slip-and-fall accidents, where the victim is left unconscious.
Read More: Hot Tub Accidents
COMMON CAUSES OF DROWNING
Many drowning-related accidents and fatalities occur as a direct result of the victim’s inexperience or inability to swim. These cases typically involve an inexperienced swimmer, such as a young child, swimming in the deep end of a pool or open waters, such as at a beach. These types of drowning-related accidents can be avoided by use of flotation devices, swimming in shallow waters, or by choosing to not swim when there is not a lifeguard or other trained professional supervising.
Horseplay is another common cause of drowning-related accidents. These types of injuries generally involve reckless activity in a pool or lake. For instance, playing “chicken fights” or having breath-holding competitions can lead to potentially serious drowning-related accidents.
Even experienced swimmers are at risk of being involved in a drowning-related accident. Swimming alone poses many risks. If an injury or accident were to occur, the victim would have nobody around to lend a helping hand or call for help. These accidents can be easily prevented by swimming with a friend or swimming only when there is a lifeguard on duty.
Flooding due to heavy rain is also a common and unfortunate cause of drowning-related accidents, especially in areas that are notorious for getting a lot of rain, such as Houston and Galveston. Be mindful of the weather and avoid going outdoors or traveling when there are flash flood warnings in effect.
WHAT MAY AN EXPERIENCED DROWNING ACCIDENT ATTORNEY DO FOR ME?
Handling a drowning accident claim by yourself can be an intimidating and frustrating task. These types of claims require a thorough understanding of the law and how the court system works. These claims also involve constant communication with insurance companies and other lawyers. An experienced drowning accident attorney may be able to help. With an experienced attorney in your corner, you can expect to receive:
A personal injury lawyer with experience handling drowning accident cases can be an invaluable asset. After an initial consultation, the lawyer may be able to provide advice regarding your best options moving forward. If necessary, a lawyer can file a claim on your behalf. From there, the attorney can act as your advocate, negotiating with insurance companies, opposing counsel, and third parties.
At Zinda Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing exemplary and unparalleled service to each one of our clients. Throughout the entire representation, from the initial consultation up to the disposition of the case, our attorneys may guide you through the claim filing process.
Zinda Law Group has access to numerous resources to help strengthen your claim. Our offices have handled large and complex cases, conducted thorough interviews with the necessary parties, hired expert witnesses, and used state-of-the-art technology.
WHAT LEGAL RIGHTS DO I HAVE AFTER A DROWNING OR NEAR-DROWNING?
Drowning accident victims and their family members are often shocked in the aftermath of an accident. Health and recovery should be the number one priority. However, it is important to remember that victims of drowning and near-drowning accidents have legal rights. In wrongful death cases, it is also important for surviving family members to understand that they also have rights.
In general, these rights include the ability to file a claim against the at-fault party or parties. Monetary compensation to cover a victim’s medical bills and pain and suffering may be available if it can be established that the at-fault party breached a duty of care owed to the victim. In other words, when someone acts carelessly, recklessly, or irresponsibly, and those actions result in life-threatening injuries or death, that person can be held liable.
Because there are many factors to consider before filing a personal injury claim, consider contacting an experienced drowning accident attorney before taking any formal action. An attorney may be able to gather the facts of your case and provide advice regarding possible routes to recovery. For many of these claims, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with the help of your attorney. If agreeing to a settlement is not in your best interests, an attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf.
WHO MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR A DROWNING ACCIDENT?
Drowning accident cases are governed by the rules of premises liability. Premises liability law imposes a duty of care on landowners. This duty applies to anyone who owns property, both commercial and residential. Under the theory of premises liability, a landowner’s action, or failure to act, may entitle a person who has been injured while on the property to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The precise duty of care owed by a landowner to another person depends primarily on the type of relationship between the landowner and the person. Individuals who come onto a landowner’s property can be separated into three broad categories: trespassers, licensees, and invitees.
A trespasser is a person who enters a landowner’s property without the landowner’s permission. The law imposes minimal duties to trespassers, particularly trespassers who are on the property without the landowner’s knowledge. In other words, a landowner typically does not have a duty to keep his land in a reasonably safe condition for the trespasser, nor is the landowner expected to inspect the land for potential hazards. Thus, a person who is trespassing onto another’s land and is injured in a drowning-related accident may not have any recourse against the property owner. In some cases involving children, however, the landowner may still be held responsible.
A licensee is a person to whom a license is granted by the landowner. In general, a licensee is on the property for his or her own amusement. This person is licensed to remain on the property only with the landowner’s consent. Typical examples of licensees include relatives, friends, and party guests. For licensees, a landowner has a duty to warn of or make safe dangerous conditions of which the licensee is unaware and which the licensee is unlikely to discover.
An invitee is an individual who has been offered an express or implicit invitation onto the property, either for a mutual benefit or for something that is being conducted on the property. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care by a landowner. This means that in addition to warning an invitee of non-obvious dangerous conditions, a landowner must also take the extra step of inspecting the premises and making sure the property is safe.
What Causes Drowning Deaths?
There are a variety of factors that can cause or contribute to a drowning death. These include:
A child or adult who is unable to swim can drown in a matter of minutes. A pool, lake, or beach staffed by lifeguards or a beach patrol is no guarantee of safety. If a lifeguard or similar professional is distracted from his or her duties, even momentarily, a drowning death can result. In such a case, the lifeguard or similar professional may be responsible for paying the deceased’s family compensation.
Alcohol and swimming or boating do not mix. Even if your loved one did not consume any alcohol, a careless boater may have consumed so much alcohol that he or she cannot operate a boat safely. Your loved one may be struck as a result, causing a drowning death. A person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and who contributes to a drowning death may be ordered to pay compensation to the deceased’s family.
Improper or inadequate first aid
Lifeguards and beach patrol members are supposed to be trained in first aid, including how to perform CPR. If a lifeguard or beach patrol member is inadequately trained or performs CPR in a careless and uniformed manner, it may contribute to your loved one’s passing. Compensation may be available in such a case.
What Compensation Can I Potentially Receive?
You may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your deceased loved one. This type of lawsuit seeks to obtain compensation the deceased person would have been entitled to based upon his or her injuries. This would include final medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses and burial expenses.
You may also be entitled to bring a survivorship action to recover compensation for your own losses. This would include compensation for your loved one’s lost future income, the loss of your loved one’s companionship and company, and your own mental anguish and suffering.
Call Zinda Law Group Now
The experienced drowning death lawyers of Zinda Law Group will work hard to help you potentially recover compensation following a drowning death. We thoroughly investigate our clients’ cases to ensure that all available evidence is located, preserved, and used to prove their cases. Call us at (800) 863-5312 and learn how we can use our knowledge and experience to help you and your family following your loved one’s tragic drowning death.