What Happens When A Drowning Could Have Been Prevented?


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In the summertime, kids and parents love to hang out and cool off in the swimming pool or other bodies of water. Unfortunately, there are thousands of deaths due to drowning each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 4,000 drowning deaths annually, more than double that of non-fatal drownings. Children make up about a quarter of the fatalities, most of which happen in residential swimming pools.

Most drowning incidents are preventable, and you may be entitled to compensation if you have lost a child in this way. The two most common areas of law that pertain to drownings are premises liability and product liability.

When Are Drowning Cases Considered Premises Liability Claims?

Drowning incidents can happen anywhere there is standing water. However, the majority of them happen in swimming pools. In some cases, residence or business owners who have pools may be considered negligent and therefore liable for the drowning. Some examples include:

  • Private residences where there is a swimming pool, hot tube, or bathtub that is filled with water
  • Resorts, hotels, or motels where there is a swimming pool, hot tub, water slide, lazy river, or other water feature
  • Public swimming pools, member-only facilities, gyms, or other facilities where lifeguards are inattentive or not adequately trained, or the facilities are not maintained properly
  • Facilities that don’t properly maintain pool steps, ladders, diving boards, etc.
  • Facilities that have insufficient lighting or blind spots around the pool
  • Facilities with posted pool hours that fail to prevent people from going in outside of those hours
  • Facilities that do not post warning signs about safety hazards

If your loved one has been injured or died due to the negligence of a swimming pool owner, you may be able to file a premises liability or wrongful death claim.

When Are Drowning Cases Considered Product Liability Claims?

Some drowning cases are not caused by property owners’ negligence. Instead, product retailers, installers, or manufacturers may be liable due to defective pools or pool products. Cases of drowning that involve product liability may include:

  • Pool accessories – Water slides, ladders, and diving boards, which may be premises liability when improperly maintained, may be product liability if they were not properly installed, were manufactured incorrectly, or were in the wrong places
  • Pool gates, fences, or barriers – Fences and gates around swimming pools are vital to ensure that no unauthorized or unwanted access is available, especially when the pool is unmonitored. However, if the barriers’ structures or locking mechanisms are compromised, defective, or don’t work properly, it may be a product liability
  • Pool safety gear – Ring buoys and life jackets are critical in emergencies. The results can be devastating if they don’t work correctly in an emergency. Additionally, alarms designed to alert pool owners that there are unexpected entrants to the pool area are great if they work right. A defective alarm that fails to alert the owner when someone is at the pool can result in drowning
  • Pool drains and pumps – Defective pool pumps and drains can create suction entrapment. This is when a swimmer’s swimsuit or hair gets sucked into a drain due to strong suction, which may lead to the person being stuck underwater and drowning

How To File A Lawsuit For A Preventable Drowning Incident

If you have lost a child or another loved one in a drowning accident, you need to contact a law firm with attorneys experienced with drowning cases. At Ross Feller Casey, we have won many drowning lawsuits, securing seven- and eight-figure verdicts and settlements for grieving families. While financial recoveries cannot bring back loved ones, they can ease financial burdens and provide families with a sense of justice. Some of our notable cases include:

  • A multimillion-dollar recovery for a family who lost a 10-year-old daughter in an apartment complex pool drowning. There were two lifeguards “guarding” the pool.
  • A $5.5 million recovery for the family of a 15-year-old who drowned in a swimming pool at a hotel
  • A $6.6 million verdict in a case where an 8-year-old drowned during summer camp after lifeguards left their posts
  • A $10 million recovery for the family of a child who drowned in a swimming pool.

Contact Ross Feller Casey today for a free case evaluation. One of our attorneys will review your claim and help you determine how best to proceed. If we take your case, you don’t have to worry about upfront costs. We only get paid when there is a financial recovery in your case.

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.