Drowning Accidents Liability

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2004, there were 3,308 unintentional drowning in the United States, an average of nine people per day. According to one safety foundation, a swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to contribute to the death of a child age four or under. It takes less than five minutes and fewer than two inches of water for a child to drown.

A very alarming fact, according to the Drowning Prevention Foundation, is that 19% of drowning deaths involve children in public pools with certified lifeguards present. Swimming pools can be dangerous places, and besides drowning, other injuries can take place such as slip and falls, diving board accidents, a head or brain injury and electrocution.

Who was responsible?

This poses the question- if you or a loved one had a near drowning experience (if a family member died, see wrongful death), could a lifeguard, swim instructor, private pool owner, public pool owner, gym, camp, resort, school, club or homeowner’s association be held liable?

There are certain guidelines that public facilities should enforce- such as having flotation devices nearby, building a fence and repairing broken tiles and concrete. If any of the following factors were present in the drowning incident, you can sue for negligence:

  • Poorly marked water depths
  • Overly slippery surfaces without warnings
  • No gate or fence
  • Defective drains resulting in suction drowning
  • Too few or no lifeguards
  • Poorly trained lifeguards- were the lifeguards first aid and CPR trained?
  • Uncovered vacuum outlets
  • Failure to maintain pool area- obstacles, clutter, debris around pool
  • Failure of flotation barriers
  • Failure to supply emergency tools at the pool site, such as a first aid kit or telephone

Lifeguards in particular are responsible for keeping children safe in the pool and for keeping a vigilant watch out for any dangers. In the recent drowning of a young boy at a camp, the report surrounding the supervising lifeguard said, “The lifeguard did not inform the students that they could not swim to the island. He did not instruct them that they needed a counselor/coach to go with them. He did not provide them with rescue tubes. He did not inform the students that only competent deep water swimmers could swim to the island…The lifeguard either ignored, forgot or made a conscious decision to disregard the rules of lifeguarding which he learned from both the American Red Cross and while at the Camp.” This example is the very definition of negligence- the lifeguard “ignored” or “forgot” or “made a conscious decision to disregard the rules…” The family of the deceased boy went on to sue the lifeguard and the camp for the terrible incident. Because the lifeguard did not respond to the drowning immediately, the boy died. Immediate resuscitation can often prevent injury or death.

Fight for damages today!

When drowning or a pool incident occurs, severe injuries can result- pulmonary edema, where the lungs lose their ability to exchange air, cardiac arrest, brain injuries, serious contusions, broken bones, paralysis, coma, mental or emotional trauma, nightmares, personality changes, anxiety, and other psychological injury.

When determining whether negligence can be reasonably attributed, a judge will look to see why you were on another’s property, how you were using that property, if the accident could have been foreseen and what the owner could have done to prevent that accident. If a lifeguard, swim instructor or public or private pool owner had a duty of care towards you and breached that duty- you could be eligible to receive compensation for the injuries and losses that were incurred. Contact Zinda Law Group today to consult with a Personal Injury Attorney about your circumstance.