A child can drown in less than the time it takes to answer the phone. Most child drowning take place in the home, where a small child can drown in several inches of bathtub water. A surprising number of children die or are severely injured in water even when being supervised.
Drowning is the fourth- leading cause of accidental death in the United States (and as high as the number one cause of accidental death in some states where water is a way of life, like California and Hawaii). It is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of fifteen. Of the 4000 people who die from drowning in the US each year, approximately one- third are children under the age of 14, and almost 20% of those drown in a public pool with a trained lifeguard present.
For every child who dies from drowning, there are four others who are hospitalized for near- drowning. Of those, 15% wind up dying in the hospital, and another 20- 25% suffer permanent brain damage. Brain damage can happen in five minutes under water, leaving a child mentally incapacitated for life, with the attendant costs of care. A near drowning victim’s medical expenses have been estimated to top $75,000 for the injury itself, and then up to $200,000 a year after that. Lifelong care for brain damage victims is in the millions of dollars.
Does a parent whose child is a victim of a drowning incident have any recourse against the people who were in charge of the pool or other water danger? It is possible, depending on the facts of the case. Courts have found pool owners and other property owners who have standing water on their land liable for injuries under several different theories, depending on state laws.
- Simple Negligence. This is mostly related to pool drownings. Some states will find a landowner liable for damages for simple negligence for failing to protect children by not putting up fencing or other barriers to their pools or other water hazards.
- Attractive Nuisance. All landowners under this doctrine are responsible for the safety of any child who is injured on their land by anything that a child might be attracted to. This even applies to trespassing children, and includes things like pools, lakes, old refrigerators, old cars, etc.
- Willful or Wanton Misconduct. This theory of legal liability goes beyond mere negligence, and involves behavior which any reasonable person would think could endanger a child. It includes, for instance, causing damage by building a swimming pool that doesn’t conform to building regulations.
An experienced law firm familiar with all of the different laws and theories in all of the possible jurisdictions can help you evaluate your individual situation to see if you may have recourse against parties who caused injury to your child. Contact us to notify The Gilbert Law Group about your case, or call us toll free at 1-877-431-4529 to discuss your matter. All initial consultations are free.