In warm weather, swimming pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans all offer amazing opportunities to cool off and engage in fun water-related activities. Unfortunately, those activities also present considerable hazards, particularly in poorly-maintained pool areas. Children, in particular, can quickly suffer severe injuries or death due to drowning, especially if left in the water with inadequate supervision.
In the United States, drowning is the number-one cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in children between the ages of one and four. For every fatal drowning victim, another five to ten victims receive care in the hospital for drowning-related injuries that did not result in death.
If you or your child suffered drowning-related injuries, or your child drowned because of the negligence of another party, our drowning accident lawyers can help you understand your right to compensation. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today for a free consultation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA: Your Drowning Accident Attorneys
After a drowning accident, victims and their families can feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do next. An attorney can help. At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA we have extensive experience managing a wide range of personal injury claims, including drowning accident cases. We have helped many of our clients recover the compensation they need after a horrific event like a drowning accident.
Our team of qualified attorneys brings personalized, compassionate service and communication to all our clients while offering the kind of aggressive negotiation and investigation you expect from a large, experienced firm. While we cannot guarantee any particular results in your case, we bring our best service to the table for every client.
Drowning Accident Claims: What You Need to Know
Drowning accident claims typically arise because,
- Someone died in a drowning accident; or
- Someone suffered serious injury and required hospitalization because of a near-drowning accident injury.
There is an average of 10 drowning deaths per day in the United States. Drowning numbers may increase during the warmer months and decrease during the cold winter months, but drowning can occur at any time of the year. Children can drown in hot tubs, swimming pools that the owners winterized and covered for the summer, or in backyard ponds and lakes.
Near-drowning accidents can also bear serious, long-term consequences for the victim and the victim’s family.
Victims who receive first aid and resume breathing can face a long road, including:
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain or organ damage
- Decrease in motor coordination
Near-drowning victims with brain damage may notice long-term cognitive defects. They may have more trouble with focusing on the task at hand or struggle with language retention. Sometimes, brain damage from near-drowning can lead to memory loss similar to traumatic brain injury. It can also cause poor judgment in the affected individual.
Unfortunately, these consequences can last long-term and may require the victim to go through substantial physical and occupational therapy, which may lead to high costs for the family. Children often recover fully from near-drowning accidents over time. But, for some children, the impacts can linger for the rest of their lives.
Who Is Responsible for Paying Compensation After a Drowning Accident?
To determine who you can look to for compensation following a drowning accident, an attorney will need to look over your case and the events that led to the drowning.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we may ask questions about the accident.
- What was the condition of the pool or water park? Drowning at water parks and in public or private swimming pools can occur due to a variety of situations and the fault of different actors. At a waterpark, for example, your child might get pulled under the water by a too-fast current or an unsafe slide or obstacle, resulting in your child’s inability to get back out of the water again. At a hotel swimming pool, your child might trip and fall on unsafe, cracked concrete. In either of these cases, it might be the pool owner or another actor, such as a maintenance company, whom you can hold liable for compensation. An attorney can evaluate the conditions that may have contributed to the drowning accident or made it impossible for you or your child to get out of the water. In some cases, uncovered drains or damage to the floor of a pool can also pose severe hazards, since they can cause a child to get stuck and make it difficult for the individual to get to the surface in time.
- Who owns the pool? Whoever owns a pool or waterpark has a duty to maintain it in a safe condition and monitor use for safety, especially if they are making it available for profit. An attorney will look at what steps a pool or waterpark owner took to keep the water safe. Suppose, for example, that a child slips into a neighbor’s pool during the winter months, when the pool should remain closed off and covered, and falls in and drowns. The neighbor may bear liability for failing to properly secure the pool against potential accidents. To provide a pool-for-profit scenario, a hotel that fails to offer adequate security to prevent unattended children from entering the pool area may bear liability for an accident that occurs on its grounds.
- Who was supervising the child at the time of the accident? In the case of a minor child, a parent, guardian, or caregiver should keep an eye on the child at all times while the child enjoys the water. Often, children drown due to a lack of supervision: everyone at a party or event assumes that someone else will watch the children in the water, which means that children can suffer serious injury before anyone realizes that something has happened. However, if a drowning accident happens while a child remains under the care of a particular caregiver, that person or organization may bear liability. For example, if a swimming instructor loses track of a child in the class and the child drowns, the swimming instructor or their employer may bear liability. If a club or school group takes children to a water park or pool, and the teacher or adult in charge fails to offer adequate supervision, that caregiver may bear liability for the drowning accident.
What Compensation Can I Recover After a Drowning Accident?
If you or a minor child suffered near-drowning injuries. If you or a minor child almost drowned, you may suffer long-term health consequences, including the need for long-term hospitalization or ongoing care. You may find your bills adding up quickly.
In general, your claim may demand compensation for:
- Medical expenses. Immediately after nearly drowning, the victim should go straight to the hospital for emergency treatment and evaluation. Hospital care may become particularly important if the victim has trouble breathing or shows signs of having inhaled chemicals, such as chlorine, from a pool, which can have a long-term impact on the victim’s lungs. Those medical expenses rack up quickly, especially if the victim requires long-term care. A victim who suffers brain damage because of a drowning accident may need to go through substantial physical and/or occupational therapy to restore movement and function after the accident.
- Lost wages. If you suffered serious injuries in a drowning accident, it may take some time before you can return to work. On the other hand, if a minor child suffers serious injuries in a drowning accident, as the child’s parent, you may need to delay returning to work while caring for and supporting your child. The longer the recovery period takes, the more work hours you miss. This loss of income can lead to even more financial stress during a time that usually brings immensely greater expenses than normal.
- Pain and suffering. Most claims also include compensation for pain and suffering. Not only can drowning cause an immense amount of fear, the victim may show PTSD symptoms. Drowning victims who face long-term consequences from the drowning accident, including fatigue or brain damage, may also go through immense suffering as they try to recover from their injuries.
If you lost a loved one in a drowning accident. Losing a loved one, particularly a minor child, in a drowning accident due to the negligence of another party is a traumatic and terrible experience. Rightly, a drowning victim’s family may recover compensation for their loss.
Wrongful death claims related to drowning accidents usually include compensation for:
- Any medical bills your loved one faced before death. Often, emergency responders will try hard to bring a drowning victim back. In some cases, they may rush them to the hospital. Unfortunately, drowning victims may later succumb to their injuries, leaving a family with massive medical expenses to manage as you grieve.
- Funeral and burial expenses. Funerals tend to be expensive, at a time when you just want to remember your loved one and celebrate their life with family and other loved ones. You can recover compensation for some of those expenses as part of a wrongful death claim.
- Compensation for the loss of companionship and relationship. The loss of a child, in particular, causes immense pain in the lives of loved ones left behind. Losing any loved one can leave you grieving for a long time. As part of a wrongful death claim, you can include compensation for the loss of companionship of your loved one.
- Compensation for lost wages. If the deceased individual had a job and was a source of income for your family, losing them could be greatly detrimental to their family left behind. Many wrongful death claims include compensation for lost income due to the death of a loved one.
Insurance Policies and Drowning Accidents
In most cases, to recover compensation after a drowning accident, victims need to pursue compensation through the insurance policy that covers the liable party. The type of insurance coverage may depend on the entity that bears liability for your loved one’s injuries. For example, if your child drowns in a hotel pool, the hotel may carry premises liability insurance that can help provide compensation for those losses. If your child drowns in a friend’s pool due to lack of supervision, you may need to file with the friend’s homeowner’s insurance to seek compensation for your losses.
It is important to know from the start that insurance companies deal with countless claims each year, including drowning accident claims. Many victims of drowning accidents and their families receive settlement offers from insurance companies shortly after drowning accidents occur.
While these offers may seem to reflect a benevolent offer on the part of an insurance company that wants to get compensation in the hands of the family quickly, the offer often is lower than what you deserve, and the insurance company’s expediency in offering it reflects its desire to limit the compensation it has to pay out.
After a drowning accident, things can get hectic. Fighting with an insurance company to get the compensation you deserve shouldn’t be an added burden. Contact an experienced drowning accident attorney like the attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for an assessment of your case and to see how we can help you recover the compensation you need to move on.
Drowning Accident FAQs
Did you or a loved one suffer serious injuries or death in a drowning accident? You may have a lot of questions about your legal rights. Take a look at the FAQ below and get in touch with Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers to learn more about your specific rights following a serious drowning incident.
1. Can I file a drowning accident claim on behalf of my minor child?
If your minor child suffers serious injuries from a drowning accident or dies in a drowning accident, you may have the right to file a claim on behalf of your child. A drowning accident claim can help you recover the funds you need for your child’s medical care, which can make it easier for you to navigate the days following the accident or take care of bills.
If you file a drowning accident claim on behalf of your child, some state laws may require you to use those funds to directly pay for your child’s care, or to set aside the funds in a trust account for your child’s later use. Talk to an attorney to learn more about your legal rights after a child’s drowning accident.
2. Will my minor child have to testify in a drowning accident claim? Will it further traumatize my child?
Drowning is an incredibly traumatic experience, and can be even more so for children. Some children leave a drowning incident with a life-long fear of the water. Others may have a fear of hospitals or doctors related to the incident. No parent wants to do anything that would exacerbate their child’s struggle after a drowning accident, and may put off filing a claim to avoid traumatizing the child.
Minor children, however, will not experience additional trauma in managing a claim. In many cases, the claim will not involve the child directly at all, but will instead rely on witness testimony from others, concrete evidence from the scene of the accident, and your child’s medical records to establish the health consequences of the drowning accident and the compensation your family deserves.
3. How long do I have to file a drowning accident claim?
There is a deadline to file a claim after a drowning accident that is important to keep in mind. The time within which you have to file is referred to as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for bringing a drowning accident claim will vary by state. In the case of accidents involving minor children, the law will often allow more time to file a claim.
Regardless of whether it is a child or adult victim, if you believe you have grounds for a drowning accident claim, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you did not have a deadline to file, you need to gather evidence to build up your case.
Often, the evidence from a drowning accident will disappear soon after the accident: the pool owner will fix that loose latch or lock, clean up the concrete around the pool, or fix a drain problem that led to serious consequences. You may lose track of witnesses.
The sooner your attorney begins seeking evidence, the greater the likelihood that your attorney can build a strong case to secure a fair settlement or court award.
4. What legal responsibilities do pool owners have to protect the users of that pool and others in the area?
Pool owners, including both corporate and private owners, must take some steps to protect both the invited users of a pool and others who might stumble upon it; for example, a minor child might be tempted to hop in a pool when it is not fenced-in, even if they are not invited by the owner. Still, if a pool owner has failed to keep the pool safe, the owner could bear liability for any incident that occurs due to that lack of care.
Generally, pool owners must:
- Maintain the safety of the pool; this may include using chemicals to avoid bacterial growth, but also conducting regular testing to make sure chemicals do not reach unsafe levels
- Clearly warn guests about any hidden or hard-to-notice hazards, such as a section of the pool too shallow for diving
- Completely enclose the pool and put up guards to prevent entrance when not being monitored
- Provide a safe experience for invited users
What specific duties a pool owner has to specific persons will vary not just by state but also by the status of the other person. Generally, a person may be considered an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. The difference between these statuses can be complex to sort out, so it is a good idea to consult with an attorney if you are a pool owner wanting to know your obligations, or if you have suffered a water injury and want to know whether or not and from whom you can recover compensation.
5. If my child snuck into the neighbor’s pool and drowned, do I have grounds for a claim?
Entering someone else’s property without permission gets classified as trespassing, regardless of the age of the person trespassing on that property. However, while the owner of a pool bears a higher duty of care to invited guests and would not, for example, bear liability for the drunken shenanigans of an adult trespasser, a pool owner who fails to secure the pool against minor trespassers may bear liability for injury suffered to those minors due to a lack of care.
In legal terms, an improperly secured pool might be considered an “attractive nuisance,” which is anything that might attract a stranger, especially a young child, and lead to injury. If the neighbor failed to properly secure his pool, you may have grounds for a claim, even if your child drowned in their pool while uninvited. Every case has unique facts, however, and you should consult with an attorney about the facts of your specific case to determine whether you have grounds for a claim.
6. My child ran alongside a hotel pool, slipped and hit his head, and drowned after falling into the pool. Do I have grounds for a claim?
Again, the unique facts of each case will determine whether or not you have grounds for a claim, But, in general, hotels have a high duty of care to the guests who use a pool. Most hotels clearly state that guests should not engage in horseplay or running activities, and a child running around a pool would violate the rules for using the pool safely.
If a hotel posted proper warnings, this might mean that the hotel could avoid liability for the incident. However, in some cases, the hotel still may bear liability for the incident. If, for example, the hotel poorly maintained the pool deck and did not remove obvious hazards, which could increase the risk to the child, the hotel may still be liable, even if it posted warnings. Talk to an attorney if you believe that you may have grounds for a drowning accident claim following an accident.
7. How long does it take to file a drowning accident claim?
Before filing a drowning accident claim, your attorney may need time to conduct an investigation, including the scene of the accident and your child’s medical records. Often, that investigation will include a look at the pool where the incident took place and whether there have been any past drowning accidents at the pool, which could indicate that the pool owner knew about a potential hazard that caused the accident.
Next, you may need to wait to give your child time to recover and determine whether any long-term health issues develop, and how much they limit your child over time. Sometimes, children bounce back fairly quickly from brain damage associated with oxygen deprivation. Other times, however, the child may have long-term consequences from the accident. You may need time to determine what long-term impact the event will have on your child, including cognitive deficits, chronic fatigue, or learning deficiencies.
Finally, you can expect to go through several rounds of negotiation with the liable party’s insurance company to attempt to recover a fair settlement. Often, negotiation takes quite some time, as the insurance company will pursue every avenue to limit its financial liability to you, while you fight for every dollar you deserve.
8. How much does a drowning accident lawyer cost?
Typically, you do not pay anything upfront to hire a drowning accident lawyer. At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, we will start with a free consultation to evaluate your claim. We accept many clients on a contingency fee basis, which means our clients do not have to worry about paying anything upfront, and do not have to pay at all unless we reach a successful outcome in the case, either through securing a settlement payment or court award.
9. If my child drowns while playing in a neighbor’s pool, does the neighbor bear liability?
In some cases, the owner of a private pool may bear liability for the drowning accident. Consult an attorney to learn more about your right to compensation following a drowning accident on private property.
The attorney may ask:
- Who was responsible for the supervision of your child? Sometimes, you remain on hand to watch your child while they swim. Other times, you might leave your child in the neighbor or pool owner’s care, with the understanding that the owner will keep an eye on the children in the pool. If the adult you entrusted with the monitoring of your child failed to provide proper supervision, given the child’s age and swimming ability, the adult may bear liability for the accident.
- Did the neighbor fail to inform your child about potential hazards around the pool? If a pool has potential hazardous features, such as a shallow end where it is unsafe to dive, the owner should have clearly visible warnings, or should verbally warn you and your child. In some cases, your neighbor might fail to inform you and your child about potential hazards, leading to an accident. Invited visitors to a pool should have full knowledge of any hazards they might face while using the property.
- Did the neighbor ignore needed pool maintenance? Cracks on the floor of a pool that could cut a foot, serious decay around the edge of a pool, or other hazards that increase the risk of injury should receive the full and immediate attention of an owner, who should fix them before further use of the pool. If the neighbor fails to properly maintain the pool but invites your child over anyway, it could lead to serious injuries and leave your neighbor liable for those injuries.
Why You Must Call Our Drowning Accident Lawyers Now
After a drowning accident, you can save yourself a lot of stress and struggle by retaining an experienced attorney to help you pursue a claim. An attorney can offer many valuable services to help manage your claim.
Investigating the Accident
How did the drowning accident take place? Was there a specific feature of the pool or source of water that may have contributed to the accident? The liable party may try to deny responsibility for the conditions that led to the accident, and you need to investigate further to determine exactly what happened to prove their negligence.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, we can investigate the circumstances that led up to the accident to get a better idea of what factors may have contributed to the accident and who all may bear liability. We will also investigate the facility where the drowning took place to determine whether it received proper maintenance and safety monitoring.
Helping You Understand Your Rights
Helping you understand your rights is one of our most important tasks as lawyers. Clients frequently come to us without knowing their right to pursue the compensation they deserve for an accident that has caused their families such serious losses. After all, most people don’t think about such things until tragedy strikes. We are here to help our clients understand their legal rights after an accident, including how much compensation they deserve.
Negotiating on Your Behalf
Dealing with an insurance company after a drowning accident can mean stressful negotiations. Whether you still need to grieve the loss of a loved one or you have serious health challenges of your own to deal with in the aftermath of a drowning accident, the insurance company can represent a lot of stress that you do not need. An attorney can take over negotiations on your behalf, freeing you to focus on other things.
We can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Call Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers today at 833-552-7274 or use our contact page to get your free case review and let our experienced work injury attorneys fight to get compensation for your injuries and losses.