Drowning and Submersion Accidents

Water is a source of fun and leisure for people around the world. Spending a summer day by the pool or the beach swimming, sailing, or playing games is a favorite activity for most Americans. There are few things better than frolicking in the surf and sand with your family or hanging out on a boat waterskiing or fishing with your friends.

Sadly, a drowning accident can quickly turn a perfect day with your family, into a tragedy. It is easy to forget that water in the pool, lake, the ocean or bathtub, can be dangerous. People regularly fail to make water safety a priority. A national survey conducted for the American Red Cross highlights this failure. The survey finds that despite the tremendous popularity of water-based activities, more than half of all Americans (54 percent) either can’t swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills. This startling statistic makes it unsurprising that there are so many water related deaths and injuries each year.

When your day of fun turns tragic, you may consider contacting attorneys who can help. Farris, Riley & Pitt can help if you or your loved one incurs injuries or dies in a water related accident.


The Facts about Drowning

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2012, approximately 372,000 people died from drowning. 2004 data from the WHO states that drowning is one of the top three leading causes of death from unintentional injury around the world and classifies drowning as a significant public health concern.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in the United States from 1999 through 2010, there were 46,419 deaths caused by unintentional drowning. This number includes drowning deaths while boating. An average of 3,868 people per year in the U.S. dies from drowning. The CDC further reports that drowning death rates decreased over time for all age groups except for adults aged 45–84. Every day in the U.S., an average of 10 people die from unintentional drowning.

It is somewhat difficult to locate statistics on non-fatal submersion injuries or “near-drowning”. The National Institutes of Health explains “near drowning means a person almost died from not being able to breathe (suffocating) under water.” A near drowning or submersion accident can cause a lifetime of problems due to do brain damage that occurs when oxygen does not reach the brain. You can suffer significant brain damage including memory impairment and seizures. In some cases, your loved one may end up on life support or in an indefinite vegetative state. Some signs of near drowning are:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Bluish skin of the face, especially around the lips
  • Chest pain
  • Cold skin and pale appearance
  • Confusion
  • Cough with pink, frothy sputum
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • No breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Shallow or gasping respirations
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

If you or someone you love exhibits these symptoms, quick medical attention may help prevent death or permanent injury.


Drowning and Near Drowning: Liability

Who is responsible for drowning injuries or death? It is important to find out because there may be someone legally obligated to compensate you for your injury. The costs associated with caring for a disabled or brain damaged adult are enormous. You may be unable to provide financially for your family because you can no longer work. The emotional toll on a family dealing with injury from a drowning or pool accident is also tremendous. If a party is responsible for your injury, you should hold them accountable and get what you are legally entitled to. Enlisting the help of attorneys with experience handling drowning cases, like the ones at Farris Riley & Pitt, is a good way to get started. We can help you determine if negligence caused or contributed to your injury.


Safety Requirements

In every water situation, there are basic safety standards that must be met. The requirements that apply are different in each situation and the laws that govern are different in each state.

The rules governing public pools in Alabama can be confusing and are not uniform statewide. Specific Alabama counties have individual codes governing the construction, maintenance and safety for public pools and spas. They also have independent regulations regarding safety signage. County rules also vary about the fencing requirements for backyard pools. If you are injured in a drowning accident, your family will need to contact your county or municipality to find out what the rules are, before you can determine if someone was negligent. Farris, Riley & Pitt can help you do that while you tend to yours or your loved one’s injury.

Basic questions to consider:

  • Are homeowners required to have a fence around the pool? What size?
  • Was a lifeguard supposed to be on duty?
  • Was there a sign posted?
  • Was the pool inspected?

It is difficult to navigate the rules and regulations that must be analyzed to determine if negligence contributed to your injury. Farris, Riley & Pitt are familiar with Alabama drowning and water safety and negligence laws. We can help you figure out if someone is legally obligated to pay damages for your injuries.


Negligence and Drowning Accidents

Negligence often causes drowning accidents. In Alabama and elsewhere, there are dozens of ways that negligence may contribute to a drowning or near drowning and its consequences. In the case of negligence, brain damage or death may have been preventable if someone took appropriate precautions. You may find:

  • Negligence of a swimming pool or property owner
  • Manufacturing or design defects in the pool, hot tub or fence
  • Defective installation of a fence, gate or pool equipment
  • Defective locks on the gate or fence
  • Negligent supervision
  • Improperly trained or lack of lifeguards
  • Improper operating procedures
  • Diving board mishaps
  • Failure to cover pools and spas; defective, inadequate or improperly installed cover
  • Inadequate warning signs that indicate the depth or other safety information
  • Defective drains or failure to cover drains
  • Lack of life preservers or safety equipment
  • Improper lighting

Private and public pool operators are required to use a certain degree of care to ensure that swimmers are safe. People depend on lifeguards and their employers at a pool, water park or beach to be properly trained to help if someone gets caught in a riptide or a wave pool. Laws require that fences be installed for a reason and warning signs serve an important purpose. Every time someone fails to live up to his or her safety obligations, you and your loved ones are at risk.


Contact Us

When you or your loved ones in Alabama have injuries caused by drowning or near drowning, contact the drowning injury attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt to speak with someone about your case. We can help you determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.