Drowning cases may arise because of the negligence of a homeowner, a swimming club or country club, or another kind of private or public facility which owns, operates or manages a swimming facility, lake or other body of water. In most cases, drowning victims are young children and teenagers. The negligence may be based on any number of careless events, including:
- Failure to have adequate safety equipment.
- Failure to have properly trained lifeguards.
- Failure to post warning signs (such as “no running” or water depth warnings)
- Failure to rope off deep or dangerous swimming areas
- Failure to clear out debris from swimming pool floor or lake bottom
- Failure to properly treat water or dilute chemicals
- Failure to install or maintain proper fencing, gates or locks.
When a drowning fatality occurs, the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick immediately investigates all possible causes to determine if any person, party, institution or organization was negligent, and if that negligence was the cause of the drowning.
According to the federal government, the main factors that affect the risk of drowning are the lack of swimming ability, the lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised access to water access, the lack of close supervision while swimming, the location of the swimming activity, the failure to wear life jackets, alcohol use and seizure disorders.
These specific factors each present an additional consideration in seeking damages if you have lost a loved one in a drowning accident.
- Lack of Swimming Ability: Many adults and children report that they can’t swim. Research has shown that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years. When a child who cannot swim is not supervised while being exposed to a swimming pool or other body of water, a legal claim may arise.
- Lack of Barriers: Barriers, such as pool fencing, prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.
The Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick will conduct a forensic investigation of the physical location where all drownings occur to determine what kind of fencing or gate structure existed prior to the drowning.
- Lack of Close Supervision: Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water (such as bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets), and even in the presence of lifeguards. Our law firm conducts extensive interviews with all witnesses. We collect all physical evidence from the scene; we take photographs and other forensic and physical evidence. We leave no stone unturned. If a babysitter, day care supervisor, parent, guardian, teacher, coach, counselor, family member or other person has been negligent in the care of the child, we will get to the bottom of it.
- Location: People of different ages drown in different locations. For example, most children ages 1-4 drown in home swimming pools. The percentage of drownings in natural water settings, including lakes, rivers and oceans, increases with age. More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among those 15 years and older (57% and 57% respectively) occurred in natural water settings, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Failure to Wear Life Jackets: In 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard received reports for 4,604 boating incidents; 3,153 boaters were reported injured, and 672 died. Most (72%) boating deaths that occurred during 2010 were caused by drowning, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets.
At the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick, we go one step further! We ask the question: Who is responsible for boat passengers not wearing their life jackets? Why are 88% of victims not wearing their life jackets? If somebody drowns because they’re not wearing a life jacket, another person may be negligent – and we’re prepared to address this issue!
- Alcohol Use: Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation, almost a quarter of hospital visits for drowning, and about one in five reported boating deaths. Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.
Who served the alcohol? How old are the people on board consuming the alcohol? These are questions which we delve into at the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick.
- Seizure Disorders: For persons with seizure disorders, drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death, with the bathtub as the site of highest drowning risk. In some cases, a caregiver or a nursing facility who is responsible for watching over persons known to have periodic seizures may be liable for these kinds of drowning incidents.
Drowning accidents also sometimes occur in hot tubs, whirlpools and Jacuzzis, particularly among small children who may get caught in suction vents. In such cases, there may claims against homeowners or manufacturers, or even against pool maintenance companies.
Whenever a drowning occurs, the case should be promptly reported to the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick. We will conduct a thorough investigation in order preserve the rights of the family.