DROWNING ACCIDENT LAWYER IN HOUSTON
Drowning is a tragic type of accident that many people associate with being a rare occurrence. However, drowning accidents are much more common than most people think. They can also happen in places that one might not consider at first. When someone is injured or dies in a drowning accident, that victim deserves compensation. If you have been injured in a drowning accident, or if you’ve lost a loved one, contact a drowning accident lawyer with Reich & Binstock.
The drowning accident attorneys at Reich & Binstock have extensive experience handling drowning incident cases involving negligence, premises liability, and wrongful death. Drowning victims and their family members deserve justice and compensation for their losses and the expenses they have incurred. You have the right to file a personal injury claim for the negligence that caused this terrible accident. To schedule your free consultation with our drowning accident lawyers, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.
What Is Drowning?
According to the World Health Organization, drowning is “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid.” While drowning accidents can happen quickly and quietly nearly anywhere there is water, there are certain locations where drowning is a much higher risk. Additionally, age plays a significant role in where drowning incidents are more likely to occur.
- Infants: Approximately two-thirds of all drowning deaths in infants under one year old occur in bathtubs.
- Children ages 1-4: Most drowning injuries or deaths that occur in this age range occur in swimming pools at homes.
- Children ages 5-14: Around 40% of drownings in this age group happen in natural water, while around 30% happen in swimming pools.
- People 15 years and older: Over half of all drowning incidents and fatalities occur in natural waters for this age range.
What Is Secondary Drowning?
Secondary drowning isn’t just a different or specific type of drowning. Rather, it is a complication that occurs when a drowning victim gets water or another fluid in their lungs. When liquid gets in the lungs, this can irritate the lining inside the lungs as the fluid builds up. This buildup of fluid in the lungs is called pulmonary edema. The symptoms of secondary drowning are as follows.
- Chest pain
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Difficulty breathing
- Behavioral or mood changes
What Are the Signs of Drowning?
When lifeguards and other adults are monitoring a pool or body of water, it is crucial that they be able to recognize the signs of drowning. If someone fails to recognize these signs, especially if they have been specifically tasked with watching out for swimmers, they may be held liable in the event of a drowning incident. The signs of drowning are as follows.
- Closed eyes
- Head sitting low in the water, with the mouth near or at water level
- Gasping or hyperventilating
- Hair sitting over the eyes or forehead
- Head is tilted back with the mouth open
- Appearing to swim in a certain direction but not making any progress
- Glassy or empty eyes that cannot focus
Another sign of drowning is less obvious, but still important. If someone is watching the water when everything goes quiet, it is important to immediately check if anyone is struggling. Silence can be an indicator of drowning, which is vastly different from the depictions of drowning on tv and in movies. The movies show us that drowning victims can yell and splash around. However, the reality is that a drowning victim likely won’t make much noise, if any.
How Common Are Drowning Accidents?
According to the CDC, approximately 4,000 fatal unintentional drowning accidents occur each year. This works out to around 11 drowning deaths each day. Approximately 8,000 nonfatal drowning accidents occur each year. This averages out to around 22 nonfatal drowning accidents each day.
Who Is at Risk of Drowning?
Certain risk factors exist for drowning, meaning some people are more prone to drowning than others based on age, gender, location, and travel. We outline each of these risk factors below.
- Across the globe, the highest drowning rates are for the age group of children 1 to 4 years old. The age group with the second highest rate of drowning is children ages 5 to 9.
- Men are more at risk of drowning than women. In fact, they have approximately double the mortality rate from drowning when compared to women. They are also more likely to be hospitalized for nonfatal drowning incidents. Additionally, studies show that men have this higher risk of drowning due to their tendencies toward riskier behavior, as well as their increased rates of exposure to water.
- Those who are around water more often have increased risks of drowning. For example, if a child lives near a pond, stream, or uncovered pool, they have a higher risk of drowning than children who do not.
- In some areas, people make daily commutes over water. If someone frequently travels over water, or if they travel on unsafe vessels, their drowning risk is heightened.
Parents of children who have been involved in a drowning accident should contact a Houston child injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Laws Applicable to Drowning Cases
One important aspect of working with a personal injury lawyer who has handled drowning lawsuits is that we will already have experience with the laws that govern pool safety standards. Generally, drowning and near drowning accidents are governed by specific regulations, as well as common duty law. One of the most important laws that applies to accidental drowning cases is called the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA).
Pool and Spa Safety Act
The VGBA was passed in 2007 after Virginia Graeme Baker died from being trapped underwater by a spa drain. She was seven years old at the time of the incident, and was a skilled swimmer. Her mother attempted to free her from the suction of the drain, as did two men. Only after she had tragically passed were the men able to free her body from the drain. The VGBA was signed into law by President George W. Bush, after Virginia’s mother, Nancy Baker, advocated for pool and spa safety to Congress.
Why Do Drowning Accidents Occur?
Drowning injuries and accidents can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from pure negligence to premises liability. Our drowning accident lawyers have handled injury and wrongful death cases on behalf of injured victims and their family members. We have seen swimming pool and drowning accidents occur from the following situations.
- Negligent supervision: Especially when it comes to young children, a drowning or near drowning accident can occur just about anywhere there is water. Children should never be left unsupervised in or near a swimming pool, bathtub, or other body of water. Lifeguards and supervising adults must frequently scan the area to ensure the safety of all children, and they should be able to reach the area within around 20 seconds. Diving accidents can also lead to drownings.
- Not wearing life jackets: Watercraft accidents and boating accidents are serious enough, but they are even more likely to be fatal if someone fails to wear their life jacket. Approximately 72% of all deaths from boating accidents resulted from drowning. Around 88% of these drowning victims did not wear life jackets. All watercraft must have accessible life jackets that are in good condition. Many areas require life jackets at all times, but not every place shares this rule. Regardless, it is always recommended that people wear life jackets while boating, even if they are strong swimmers.
- Lack of pool barriers: Fences and barriers that separate pools from yards and homes are one way to reduce a child’s risk of drowning. One should install a barrier that has a lock to prevent the child from entering the pool area unsupervised. The barrier should also be tall enough to prevent them from falling or climbing over the barrier.
- Use of alcohol: Among both adults and adolescents, the use of alcohol is involved in around 70% of drowning death incidents. Alcohol impairs one’s judgment, motor skills, and coordination. This makes swimming much more dangerous.
- Not knowing how to swim: Learning to swim isn’t quite as simple or widespread as learning to walk and run. Not every child or adult has the ability to swim, and even fewer are strong swimmers. Swimming lessons and close supervision by a lifeguard are crucial when it comes to staying safe in the water.
What Are Common Injuries Associated with Drowning Accidents?
A drowning injury victim, if they are lucky enough to survive, may still suffer from serious complications and consequences stemming from the accident. Survivors of these incidents may suffer from the following injuries and complications.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Brain damage and other brain injuries
- Cardiac arrest
- Organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Aspiration pneumonia
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or wrongful death in a drowning incident, contact the drowning lawyers at Reich & Binstock as soon as possible.
Who Can Sue After a Drowning Accident?
When someone suffers a serious injury or dies in a drowning accident, it’s important to understand who has the right to file an injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the following parties may have the right to file a claim.
- The victim themselves
- Surviving spouses or domestic partners
- Children of the victim
- Grandchildren of the victim
- Representatives of the deceased’s estate
- Someone with power of attorney over the victim
Who Is Responsible for a Drowning Accident?
Drowning accidents can happen anywhere, including at swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, recreational centers, public pools, and residential pools. But who exactly is responsible when aquatic accidents occur? This depends on a number of factors, including the location and who was responsible for the safety of the injured person at the time of the incident.
When someone drowns in a private pool, the property owners or the property renters may be held liable for the accident. For drownings that occur in public pools, the pool owners or operators may be held responsible. In both cases, pool owners are expected to adhere to their state’s pool safety standards. Staff, such as lifeguards, may also be responsible for injuries if they fail to properly supervise the area. Other potentially liable parties include the following.
- Waterpark owners, operators, or staff members
- Boat owners or operators, if they failed to provide life saving equipment, such as life jackets
- Adults who were tasked with supervising a child in the water
If someone were to drown in a public lake, however, the case can be much more complicated. Drowning accidents are unfortunately more common than they should be at locations like Lake Conroe due to negligence. This is part of what makes Lake Conroe so dangerous.
Who Is Liable if Someone Drowns in Your Pool?
When someone drowns in a pool, the owner or operator of that pool is responsible for the incident, but only if the plaintiff can prove negligence. You and your drowning lawyer must work together to prove that the owner of the swimming pool was negligent in their maintenance, operation, or supervision of the pool. In this case, the property owner’s liability will be an important aspect in determining negligence.
What Is an Attractive Nuisance?
Attractive nuisances are things that could be seen by children or teenagers that are liable to attract them. For example, a child is likely to be excited and drawn in by the sight of a swimming pool. A pool owner has a responsibility to take certain precautions to reduce their liability in the event of an accident. If they followed all safety regulations and took great care to keep others safe while on their property, it is unlikely that they would be held responsible for the incident. However, if a property owner deviated from a local safety regulation or building code, they could be held liable in the event of an accident.
How Can I Prove Liability After a Drowning Accident?
We recommend working closely with a drowning accident attorney in order to prove that someone else’s gross negligence led to your injury or your loved one’s death. An experienced lawyer with our office will investigate the facts of your case as thoroughly as possible, gathering evidence to support your claim. In order to show liability in your case, we may gather evidence of the following forms of negligence.
- Lack of safety measures, such as barriers or fences
- Failures to follow state and local laws regarding safety regulations
- Failing to provide life jackets
- Operating a watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to properly supervise children
- Drinking alcohol while supervising children near a body of water
- Companies and businesses may be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees
How Long Does It Take to File a Drowning Accident Lawsuit?
This depends on the nature of your case. If you are the injured victim, you’ll need to recover from your injuries before you can begin the legal process for your claim. Some cases are more complicated than others, so we recommend seeking legal counsel for a more accurate prediction of how long your case may take. Keep in mind that even simpler cases can take several months or even over a year to conclude.
How Much Is My Drowning Accident Case Worth?
This also heavily depends on the nature of your case. Depending on the nature of the victim’s injuries, the potential value of these claims can vary greatly. If you are a victim in a swimming pool accident, or if you are the family member of a deceased victim, you may be able to receive the following types of compensation.
- Current and future medical bills
- Property damage
- Current and future lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Punitive damages (only available in cases of gross negligence, or in cases where the defendant deliberately harms someone else)
Can I File a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Drowning Accident Victim?
If you are a surviving spouse, a surviving family member, or a representative of the deceased’s estate, you should be able to file a drowning accident lawsuit. You may be able to bring one of three types of lawsuits: personal injury lawsuit, wrongful death lawsuit, or premises liability lawsuit. Speak with an experienced attorney with our law firm to learn more about how you can file a claim.
What Role Does a Drowning Accident Attorney Play?
In any personal injury or wrongful death claim, your legal representation will act as your advocate both in and out of court. We will not only gather evidence to determine the cause of the accident, we will also help you determine who is the at-fault party. We will then fight for your right to maximum compensation and represent you in court if necessary. During settlement negotiations, we will ensure that you don’t settle for a lowball offer that won’t cover your losses. What’s more, is that we’ll do all this without charging you a cent unless we secure a recovery on your behalf.
Statute of Limitations on Drowning Accident Cases
The statutes of limitations on how long someone has to file a drowning accident claim differ from state to state. However, in Texas, victims generally have two years from the date of their accident to file a claim. This two-year clock does not begin for minor victims until they turn 18 years old. Wrongful death lawsuits also have a two year statute of limitations, generally beginning on the date the victim passes away.
Get Help from a Drowning Accident Lawyer Today
If you were injured in a drowning accident, or if your loved one was injured or killed in a drowning accident, the personal injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock are here for you. Our law firm has decades of experience helping injury victims seek compensation either for themselves as victims, or as surviving family members. You have the right to file a personal injury claim or a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party for your losses. Contact a personal injury attorney with Reich & Binstock to file a claim if you or a loved one was injured in a drowning or near drowning accident. Schedule your free consultation with us by calling 713-622-7271 today.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.