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A “near-drowning” is described as any drowning that is not fatal but instead ends with the victim being resuscitated. While most would certainly prefer a near-drowning to a drowning incident, this does not mean that near-drownings are not serious incidents. The severity of a near-drowning accident victim’s injuries will depend in large part on how long the victim is underwater and/or not breathing. Even just a few minutes is enough to cause permanent brain damage that results in lifelong disabilities and limitations for the near-drowning victim.
Private Property Owners Must Protect Others From Near-Drownings
A private property owner (such as a friend or relative with a pool or a motel or apartment complex owner) must take certain steps to protect individuals from near drowning. This includes taking such preventative measures as erecting a fence or other device to protect children and others from accidentally falling into the pool or hot tub.
This may be true even if a child is on private property without permission. Under a legal doctrine known as “attractive nuisance,” a property owner who has something on his or her land that is likely to catch the eye of children and tempt them to venture onto the property – such as a pool – must take reasonable steps to prevent even trespassing children from accessing the pool.
Private Individuals Must Act Reasonably to Prevent Near-Drownings
Private individuals who are not pool owners may nevertheless find themselves responsible for paying monetary damages to a near-drowning victim if those individuals acted carelessly or negligently and in doing so caused or contributed to a near-drowning accident. For example, a boater or jet-skier who is intoxicated or who is not properly trained on boating laws can cause nearby swimmers or others to be placed in danger. Or someone who picks up another person and throws that person into the pool or water as a joke can face liability if that person nearly drowns. It may not matter if the perpetrator of the “joke” knew the other person could not swim or was incapable of swimming due to intoxication or some other condition.
What Can I Do After a Near-Drowning?
A near-drowning incident is a terrifying ordeal that can leave you wondering what to do. Your first priority should be rescuing the victim and moving him or her to a safe place out of the water. Rescue breaths must be initiated if the victim is not breathing on his or her own. The longer you wait to rescue the victim and get him or her breathing again, the more severe the damage that will be done to his or her brain and other organs. You or another bystander should summon emergency help as soon as possible.
To protect your legal rights and preserve your ability to recover compensation from the person responsible for the near-drowning incident and resulting injuries, you or the near-drowning victim should:
- Identify witnesses who observed the incident, including those who observed the responsible party’s careless behavior. Obtain their name, contact information, and a description of what they saw, if possible.
- Keep all medical records relating to the near-drowning in a safe location and available for later use. This includes any bills or statements you receive and payment records. You should also keep any follow-up appointments the doctor may set and follow all treatment recommendations the doctor may make.
- Seek the assistance of an experienced near-drowning attorney. You have a limited time under the law to file a claim for compensation from the responsible party. By seeking legal counsel quickly from an attorney like one of the near-drowning attorneys at Zinda Law Group, you stand a greater chance of recovering compensation for your injuries and expenses quickly. Contact us at (800) 863-5312 to learn how we at Zinda Law Group can help you and your family.