Drowning accidents take the lives of nearly a dozen Americans each day. When these incidents happen, victims often ask themselves questions such as:
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, otherwise known as the CDC, is one of the federal agencies responsible for reporting on drowning accidents in the United States. Their reports have identified some clear causes of many aquatic accidents, including those that end in a drowning death; we cover the most prominent ones below.
According to the CDC, lack of experience in the water is one of the most common causes of drowning. This risk factor is not only present in children but also in adults.
Children, namely those in the 1-4 age range, are the most likely to become drowning victims. With younger children, the settings where drowning can occur include bathtubs, buckets, and swimming pools. The smaller size of these swimmers can also make them less visible even to trained lifeguards.
The consumption of alcohol and other drugs near the water can significantly increase the risk of drowning. Swimmers who are intoxicated can become disoriented or even lose consciousness, both circumstances which may prevent them from resurfacing after going under.
When conditions are treacherous, even experienced swimmers can become drowning victims. The use of a personal floatation device, or PFD, can truly make the difference between life and death.
PFDs are particularly vital when participating in water sports or while boating. If the driver or passenger of a watercraft is ejected, regardless of other injuries they may suffer, they will be guaranteed to remain above the surface.
Health disorders are yet another common cause of drowning incidents. Seizures, for example, can cause an individual to drown. In fact, per the CDC, drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death, with a large number of these occurring in bathtubs.
After reviewing the most common causes of drowning accidents, it's only normal to inquire about the specific sites where they most often occur. These include:
It's important to note that in many of these settings, trained lifeguards are present. This should highlight the fact that even when lifeguards are present, the risk of drowning is not completely mitigated.
Swimmers should be comfortable with their level of ability in the water. Moreover, they should know to look out for others in their vicinity. Drownings aren't always the tumultuous events that the movies and TV shows have depicted; a drowning may be quiet but an alert swimmer may nevertheless help to prevent it.
Boating is also one of the greatest culprits when speaking in terms of drowning accidents.
It is widely theorized that when participating in boating activities, individuals may feel a false sense of security. As the passenger on a craft, a person may feel inclined to trust wholeheartedly in the operator. Whether it be a small boat, large yacht, or perhaps even a jet-ski, passengers place their trust in someone else and simply try to enjoy themselves.
On the other hand, operators of watercraft may not be as experienced as they believe themselves to be. Driving a boat or personal watercraft (PWC) is much different from driving a car, an activity most of us are quite familiar with.
Such false confidence can often lead to accidents, whether it be a crash against another vessel, a static dock, or another unperceived obstacle, boat passengers and operators can be forcefully ejected from the craft.
An unexpected change in the weather may also affect the ability of a boat operator to complete the task safely. Knowledge of local waterways is also very helpful in avoiding boating crashes; lack of familiarity with surroundings often leads to boating accidents as well.
Near-drownings are incidents where a person started to drown but was rescued. Often, resuscitation methods such as CPR, perhaps with the aid of an AED, are used to bring a drowning victim back to consciousness.
Drowning is a multi-step process, with the last stage being tissue death and the shutdown of vital bodily systems. If a drowning victim is rescued before the final stage, clinical death, they are often referred to as a near-drowning victim.
While the victim survives the ordeal, this does not mean that they will be free from personal injury. Many aquatic accident victims suffer permanent brain damage as a direct result of asphyxiation previous to being rescued.
Individuals who have come close to drowning are likely unconscious or otherwise unresponsive. Their skin may be cold, clammy, and begin to turn pale with a blue hue.
Physically, the individual may have swelling in their abdomen and, if conscious, may have a chronic cough, shortness of breath, chest pains and even vomiting.
Persons who have gone through such a traumatic accident should always be checked out by a medical professional. Even if no adverse health effects are present, it is best to be "safe not sorry" in such circumstances. The worst consequences of such swimming pool or beach accidents can develop after the fact and only a trained eye may be able to detect them before they manifest.
While a drowning death is the worst result imaginable for a day at the pool, there are many other types of personal injury that can result. The most commonly encountered ones are:
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most common types of swimming pool injuries. In many cases, this type of personal injury results from an individual diving head-first into a pool, not realizing it is much more shallow than they expect.
Since many are accustomed to diving head-first into pools or other bodies of water, it is often the head and brain which take the brunt of the hit when an impact with the bottom occurs.
Bone fractures, as well as ligament tears and sprains, are yet another type of personal injury often encountered in a pool.
Many of these accidents take place outside of the pool itself; this is because the surface surrounding a swimming pool can become quite slippery when water splashes and pools, leaving slick puddles. Slip and fall incidents occur regularly and often result in fractures and ligament damage.
There are valid reasons why electrical devices should be present inside of and around a pool. Namely, lighting is quite important when it comes to avoiding a swimming pool accident.
However, faulty wiring as a result of poor installation or a lack of maintenance can lead to deadly electrical shocks. What makes these instances much more dangerous is the fact that victims have little to no warning of the risk. They may simply jump into a pool or step in a puddle barefoot and suffer a deadly electrical shock.
It's safe to say that any drowning accident is an unintentional drowning. However, with how serious the repercussions can be when we've lost a loved one in a drowning death, it's only normal for surviving family members to seek justice.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, there are a number of legal actions you may take. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is one option that can help victims seek compensation for the damages they suffered. A wrongful death claim can also be effective in drowning deaths.
What may cause confusion is establishing who a legal claim may be filed against. In fact, depending on the nature of a case, a lawsuit may be filed against the owner of the pool, the manufacturer of a faulty swimming pool gate, a pool construction or designing company, or perhaps even a real estate developer.
It may also be the case that more than one of these individuals or entities may be deemed responsible in drowning cases. The legal code surrounding drowning deaths can be extremely complex which is why individuals researching drowning cases are widely encouraged to seek the help of personal injury attorneys.
A personal injury law firm experienced in drowning cases will be intimately familiar with the relevant legal code for drownings in your state. Such a law firm will also be staffed with dedicated drowning lawyers who can discuss your case previous to you retaining them.
It's not realistic to expect a "dollar amount" estimate for your case before it is actually litigated. This is because there are many factors that influence the final settlement amount or compensation awarded by a court. For example, the victim's age, the extent of physical and emotional damages, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income, loss of consortium and other aspects may be considered as damages in a case.
Our drowning accident lawyers are fully prepared to analyze your case and explain your legal options in a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys have been fighting for the rights of accident victims throughout New Jersey for years; they want to help you, too.