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Drowning accidents devastate thousands of families every year. Sadly, drowning cases often involve a life ending too soon. But drowning accidents also involve legal liability for personal injuries. This does not mean that anyone meant for a drowning to occur, but rather that a legal duty of care was not met, leading to someone drowning.

Someone's negligence or recklessness may cause another person to drown. In this case, the victim's family may receive compensation for the loss of their loved one through a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, private pool owners or property owners may have premises liability to young children and other swimmers in the pool area.

Drowning Lawsuits

Suppose a person passes in a drowning accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of someone else. The victim's family members may sue, alleging wrongful death. This can be because someone else physically caused the drowning. It can also be because whoever is responsible for the pool or waterway was negligent. They may have been careless in operating the pool, and their behavior (or lack of action) caused the drowning in question.

At-fault parties can be liable for legal claims in pool accidents involving:

  • Drowning victims of unintentional drowning
  • Drowning injuries and disabilities, including brain damage
  • Brain injury from prolonged submersion in near-drowning injury cases
  • Other serious injuries from nonfatal drownings

For example, a public pool or water park may offer lifeguards. If the negligent or reckless behavior of a lifeguard contributed to a drowning death, the operator of the pool or swimming hole may be liable for wrongful death. The same can be true if a lack of maintenance at a pool, spa, or swimming hole causes someone to drown.

A lack of supervision contributes to the risk of drowning when a pool may be an attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance legally refers to a harmful area or object that might attract young children. An unsafe water park that is not properly supervised can increase the chance of drowning incidents, especially for children at play. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children aged one to four pass away from drowning than any other cause of death.

Boating Accidents

Many drowning accidents involve water sports. Jet skis, wave runners, and water skiing at times cause injuries resulting in drowning accidents. This can be through accidents in which no one is at fault or due to someone's negligent or reckless behavior. For example, if a water skier is hit by a boat and drowns, the driver of the boat may be legally liable for causing the drowning. This can mean civil liability for wrongful death. In more extreme cases such as boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there may be criminal charges.

Manufacturers of boats or safety equipment such as life jackets may also be responsible. Under the law of product liability, a manufacturer may be liable for the injuries and medical expenses of someone harmed by product defects.

Swimming Pool Regulations

States and the federal government have enacted certain requirements for those operating swimming pools or spas. For example, federal law and most state laws impose certain requirements on anyone operating a public pool.

Federal law, and a growing number of state laws, now require special accommodations. Those operating public or semi-public pools or spas must install drain covers designed to prevent drain suction in pools and many hot tubs. Older-style drain covers have often proved inadequate to prevent people, most often children, from getting trapped by the suction around a pool's drain. A drain pulls water out of the pool for recirculation and can be dangerous, especially to smaller bodies. The newer drain covers aim to prevent the large number of drain suction drowning accidents experienced every year.

Many public pool operators (including hotels) have already upgraded their drain covers. Some have failed to make the upgrades either due to oversight or to avoid the cost. A drowning may occur in a pool that is out of compliance with the law. That violation can count as evidence against the pool operator in a wrongful death lawsuit.

A Drowning Accident Lawyer Can Help

An experienced drowning accident attorney can help determine legal responsibility. They can examine the facts regarding a drowning and help pursue recovery if possible.

Having a lawyer on your side can be helpful, even if you signed a disclaimer waiving your right to make injury claims. Just like with car accidents, pool activities are inherently dangerous. This can mean you may recover for your injuries even if you signed a safety waiver.

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