On average, in the United States, eleven people die by drowning every single day. Twenty-two more experience a non-fatal drowning accident. What’s more, drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged one through four. This makes drowning accidents a significant public health issue. This is also where the expertise of a drowning accident lawyer comes in. So, what causes drowning accidents? The lead cause is a lack of proper supervision, especially for younger children, who most often drown in swimming pools. Other issues include missing or ineffective fences around water, especially pools, consumption of alcohol or drugs, and defective products. The most common liability for drowning is that faced by a property owner who does not properly fence pools or secure pool gates. In these cases, you need a competent, experienced drowning accident lawyer. If you or a loved one was involved in a drowning accident that might be somebody else’s fault, contact Morrow & Sheppard for a free consultation.
Common Types of Drowning Accidents
There are a number of types of drowning accidents. People of different ages are at risk of different types of incidents, but all of them can result in fatalities or serious health issues.
Pool accidents happen when somebody drowns in a municipal, residential, or resort swimming pool. Younger children are most at risk, and some of these accidents occur even though the child was not supposed to be in or near the pool. In the case of a pool accident, the owner of the pool may be liable if they provide insufficient supervision or, most often, if they don’t take reasonable precautions to keep children and trespassers out of the pool. In both Texas and Louisiana, residential swimming pools are considered attractive nuisances. An attractive nuisance is any feature on a property that might attract children onto the land and pose a risk to their safety. Swimming pools are not attractive nuisances in all states (for example, they are not in Indiana). This requires landowners to take steps to keep children away from the feature, which with pools means suitable fencing and a closed gate whenever the pool is not in use. In municipal and resort pools, insufficient supervision can happen if the lifeguard is not doing their job, making them or the property responsible.
Yes, people do drown in spas. One issue that can happen is hair getting stuck in the pool vents. Drowning accidents have also happened when somebody spends extended time in a spa or hot tub and falls asleep or passes out. Securing long hair while using a spa and limiting the amount of time spent in the water can reduce the risk of an accident. Young children should be kept out of the spa and hot tub areas. Insufficient supervision can result in somebody who passes out or gets stuck and not being rescued in time.
People can also drown after falling out of a boat. In fact, people have drowned after falling overboard from cruise ships of all sizes. Alcohol is often involved in boating accidents, and getting drunk on a boat is not recommended. If you are in a small boat, always wear a life jacket. Larger boats must have life jackets available and they must be functional, sufficient for the number of passengers, and easy to access. Another common cause of accidents includes standing up in small boats before proper docking; only people who know what they are doing should dock boats.
Water Park Accidents
Poorly designed water slides may also cause severe accidents – many of these do not involve drownings (for example, the infamous Verrückt incident involved a child striking a metal pole). However, people can drown at the bottom of slides, which often have deep water. Water parks also involve the same risks as swimming pools and require the proper supervision of children in particular.
Tourists are the most at risk for accidental drownings off beaches because they don’t know the area and are trying to relax. Accidents can also happen when a guide gives incorrect information or when tourists ignore a safety flag and swim from an unattended beach. Rip currents are a particular hazard in some parts of the world. Never swim from a red-flagged beach and avoid swimming from beaches that do not have a lifeguard present. Always follow the lifeguard’s directions.
Bathtub drownings typically happen when infants under one year old are left unattended, and can also affect other children under five. Adult drownings are typically the result of alcohol, drug use, or a seizure disorder. Elderly people can also experience falls. It is important to use traction stickers in the tub and non-slip padded mats around the bathtub to reduce the risk of slips and falls. In some of these cases, liability may fall on the person or their parents. However, the property owner often faces some liability. A guide who gives incorrect safety instructions can also be liable.
Drowning Accident Injuries and Damages
Some drowning incidents are fatal, but even a non-fatal drowning can result in long-term issues. The following types of injuries and incidents can cause liability and make you eligible for damages.
- Wrongful death. If a family member drowns, you may have a wrongful death case against the property owner or another.
- Spinal cord injuries. These can happen if somebody dives into water that is too shallow or otherwise unsuitable. Improper signage can be a factor here.
- Organ damage. Drowning can cause damage to the brain and/or multiple organs from a lack of oxygen. These can result in long-term disability.
- Hypothermia. Falling into cold water can result in hypothermia, where the body temperature drops too low. Hypothermia can result in frostbite or gangrene, which can cause limb loss.
- Infection. Non-fatal drowning can cause aspiration pneumonia, resulting in lung infection and potential long-term damage.
- Psychological trauma. Non-fatal drowning can also result in mental health issues, such as PTSD or a long-term fear of water.
Drowning Accident Lawsuits and Settlements
Property owners are most likely to face liability after a drowning incident. However, pool operators or lifeguards, product manufacturers and distributors (for example, a defective life jacket), boat operators and owners, and, of course, their insurance companies may also face liability. Our law firm can investigate your personal injury case and gather evidence. A drowning accident lawyer can negotiate with insurers (who often agree to settle when lawyers become involved) and, if necessary, handle your case in court. We have experienced drowning accident lawyers who can help you hold people responsible.
Why Choose Us As Your Drowning Accident Lawyer
Our experienced drowning accident attorneys have gained numerous settlements for our clients including maritime workers and Jones Act seamen. While we can’t guarantee anything, we have the resources needed to get you the highest possible settlement and appropriate compensation for your injury or the loss of your loved ones. We provide each client with compassionate service, personal attention, and aggressive advocacy. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the details of your case.