Deaths or near-death cases of drownings are devastating for families. When negligence is involved and the drowning could have been prevented, these cases are even more tragic. Drowning lawsuits that involve negligence or wrongful death are often filed against inattentive property owners or managers. Depending on the specifics of the case, plaintiffs may be able to sue for damages that include medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If your family has been impacted by a fatal or near-death drowning involving negligence, you likely have many questions. Ultimately, you must contact an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance, but here are some answers to some of the initial questions you may have:
The Red Cross reports that drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children in the U.S. It’s estimated that about 10 people die from unintentional drowning each day, and at least two of those deaths are children under 14-years old. For every child who dies due to drowning, another five require emergency medical care for nonfatal drowning injuries.
Drownings can occur with any amount of water, even in just a couple of inches, and they can happen in various locations. Swimming pools, ponds, lakes, hot tubs, and even bathtubs can all be places where someone drowns. However, not all victims of drowning die. Many people who live suffer lifelong injuries and disabilities due to insufficient oxygen to the brain. Such injuries include:
Drownings that occur in private bodies of water, like a backyard swimming pool, are often the responsibility of the homeowner or renter – especially in cases where the owner violated the state’s safety laws or regulations. Likewise, if a drowning occurs because someone falls overboard from a boat, the boat’s owner may be held liable.
In public swimming pools, it is typically the owners or operators of the pool that are held liable. Lifeguards or other staff may also be held responsible in some situations.
When children are drowning victims, the adult whose care they were under could be found liable, no matter where the drowning occurred.
The personal representative named in the victim’s will must file a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania. If there is no will, a loved one may volunteer for the role, or the court may assign a personal representative. The lawsuit is then filed on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate. In Pennsylvania, those who can benefit from the wrongful death claim are limited to the victim’s spouse, parents, or children. If there are no surviving family members with those relationships, the state’s succession laws would be followed.
In some cases of drowning, it’s evident that negligence was the cause. For example, if someone goes overboard from a boat because the boat’s operator was intoxicated and there was an accident, it’s fairly straightforward who is liable. However, some situations are not as cut and dry. If a child drowns in a public swimming pool, is the facility to blame? Or the lifeguard? Or the adult who was with the child?
Each drowning lawsuit is unique, and proving negligence can be challenging. As a result, it’s crucial to enlist the help of an experienced attorney to review your claim, identify if negligence occurred and if it did, who was at fault.
Many cases involving drowning are settled before going to trial. However, some cases do make it into the courtroom. The legal team you hire should always approach the case as though it were going to trial. Doing so ensures that they are prepared if it does, indeed, go to court and puts involved insurance companies on alert that there is a qualified legal team in place to fight them at trial. This often leads to quicker and more significant resolutions.
If you have lost, or nearly lost, a loved one due to drowning, you must contact an attorney who has dealt with drowning cases. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for the expenses and pain and suffering you’ve experienced. While it won’t eliminate your grief, it can help with the financial burden the loss has caused your family.
At Ross Feller Casey, our attorneys have a proven track record of winning cases involving negligence related to drowning. We also have medical doctors on staff to examine medical records and help us understand the nature of your loved one’s injuries. If your case isn’t settled and goes to trial, our lawyers will be ready to protect your rights and fight for the verdict you deserve. We have won many multimillion-dollar recoveries in drowning-related cases like yours.
Contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case. Our cases are handled on a contingency basis, so there is no cost to you until there is a financial recovery.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.