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What Is Accidental Drowning?

young swimmer in pool lane

Accidental drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in the world. Drowning occurs when a person is submerged in water and respiratory impairment cuts the oxygen supply to the brain. Unconsciousness and cardiac arrest can quickly follow.

Unfortunately, with our love of life on the water in Florida, we have more than our fair share of accidental drowning incidents each year.

If you have lost a loved one due to accidental drowning in Florida and this was due to the negligence of one or more parties, you may have a valid compensation claim.

Who can be held liable for accidental drowning?

Sometimes, people drown because of their own negligence or recklessness but, in many cases, the actions or inaction of another party contribute to or cause the tragedy.

Every body of water, from a pool, lake or ocean to a bathtub carries an inherent risk of drowning accidents.

In Florida, if another party is at fault for an accident that causes injury or death, the injured party may be able to file a claim for compensation. The same applies to a car accident on Florida roads, a boating accident on our waters or a drowning accident.

The families of the victims or the victims themselves (if they can recover) usually file the claim.

Sometimes, a lack of the necessary precautions from the staff or owner of a public or private swimming facility can lead to a drowning accident that causes serious injury or death. The most common at-fault parties in drowning accidents in Florida are:

  • Hotels
  • Water parks
  • Private/public neighborhood pools
  • Recreational centers
  • Neighborhood associations
  • Private premises owners
  • Day camps
  • Swim management companies

How can you determine and prove negligence in accidental drowning cases?

Proving liability of an at-fault party in accidental drowning cases is rarely straightforward. Victims or their families usually require the guidance and expertise of skilled personal injury lawyers to pursue the claim.

Determining negligence is made more challenging by the number of possible causes. Sometimes, swimming facilities don’t meet industry standards. They may lack the proper lifeguard coverage or the necessary life-saving resources to prevent the drowning accident. Alternatively, structural or mechanical issues within the swimming facility can be to blame.

Cases can become complex, especially if a portion of the negligence was due to the victim’s actions, such as running near the pool or engaging in roughhouse behavior in or by the pool.

Whether the accident is the fault of the facility itself, a manufacturer, a swimmer at the facility or another party, the expertise of a lawyer skilled and experienced in these types of accidents is often required to prove negligence, determine liability and protect your legal rights.

Your lawyer will speak with witnesses, check security footage and inspect the machinery if required. It may even be necessary to call on the advice of other professionals or recreate the scene of the accident to help prove negligence.

Main causes of accidental drowning in Florida

We’ve touched on some of the reasons that lead to drowning accidents in Florida already. Most of the lawsuits result from death or injury to swimmers due to one of the following reasons:

  • Lack of lifeguards
  • Untrained or poorly-trained lifeguards
  • Overcrowding in the facility
  • Inefficient emergency measures
  • Missing, defective or broken emergency equipment
  • Lack of lifesaving resources
  • Lack of supervision from lifeguards on duty
  • Failure to perform safety checks
  • Failure to install or maintain security gates, fences, barriers, etc.
  • Defective machinery
  • Lack of water clarity
  • Drug use or alcohol consumption

What are typical drowning injuries?

Often, when someone drowns but survives, serious injury is caused to the drowning victim.

The drowning accident may be caused by an injury suffered in the water (such as banging one’s head on a rock or the bottom of the pool and losing consciousness) or result in injury, due to the lack of oxygen to the brain and loss of consciousness.

Drowning injuries are also commonly associated with pool machinery. For instance, hair or swimming costumes can get trapped in filters and cause even the strongest swimmers problems as they are pulled underwater.

Do you have an accidental drowning claim in Florida?

If a loved one has suffered an injury or death as a result of the types of drowning accidents described above, you may have a valid compensation claim.

Florida follows the pure comparative negligence law, which means that even if a party was partially at-fault for an accident, damages can be sought from another at-fault party.

Under the pure comparative negligence law, you can recover some compensation no matter how high your percentage of fault is. For instance, even if you were determined to be 80 percent at fault in causing your accident and suffered $200,000 in damages, you could still recover $40,000 in damages from another negligent party,

While it doesn’t lessen the sense of tragedy at the loss or serious injury of a loved one, the compensation can help to ease the financial burden that accidental drownings often cause — not least from medical bills involved in a lengthy stay in hospital.

Sometimes, if death or serious injury results from the accidental drowning, other damages like loss of earnings,  lost companionship, funeral expenses, and more can be part of the accidental drowning claim. This can amount to a significant sum of compensation.

If a loved one has been injured or killed in an accidental drowning in Florida, it’s important to obtain reliable legal advice as soon as possible. Call (941) 304-5003 for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer from Gerber Law in Florida.

If you’re injured, we’ll come to the medical facility or your home for the initial consultation.

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