California Swimming Pool and Drowning Accidents Lawyer
Every year, tragically, thousands of people in the state of California die in swimming pool drowning accidents due to negligence and often involve children under 14 years old. There are also many non-fatal swimming pool accident victims.
Many drownings could have been prevented if pool owners had taken appropriate safety precautions. Many have inadequate safety enforcement and swimming pool structure investment.
Young children are especially vulnerable to drowning accidents and it's a common cause of unintentional death for kids between 1-4 years old in California.
Further, in addition to drowning fatalities, there are a lot of swimming pool accidents of near-drowning, that result in a victim having severe brain injuries or a severe disability.
Determining fault and liability for a swimming pool accident can become a challenge, depending on the circumstances of the tragic incident.
Boating accidents also account for many unintentional drownings, along with other non-swimming pool drownings, such as bathtubs, hot tubs, and other bodies of water.
If a family member died or was severely injured due to the negligence of another party, then you need to know your legal rights and options to receive financial compensation.
Whether the victim suffered a fatality or has sustained painful, perhaps life-changing injuries, you're going to need a way forward.
You're going to need support and will need to provide for their care and future—and their family's future. We might be able to help you get compensation.
A lot is going on and our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are providing important information below. Here's what you need to know:
Definition of a Drowning Accident
In the United States, nearly ten people die daily due to drowning accidents. It's easy to underestimate the risk. For example:
- It's possible to drown in two inches of water;
- Pools, ponds, hot tubs, tubs, sinks, toilets, and reservoirs are all places where drowning can occur;
- A drowning victim can survive; however, many will suffer from lifelong disabilities.
When a person drowns, they suffer a lack of oxygen in their brain. This can lead to:
- Memory issues,
- Learning disabilities,
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- A permanent or semi-permanent comatose state,
If the drowning victim stops breathing and is revived, they might have suffered permanent brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.
These types of nonfatal drowning injuries often result in long-term disabilities like memory loss and loss of basic bodily functions, which is known as a permanent vegetative state.
What Causes Drowning Accidents?
Since the conditions and locations for drowning are relatively common in California, it's a good idea to be aware of the typical causes of these types of accidents. Some common causes include:
- The victim's possible inability to swim;
- A lack of barriers around the body of water;
- A lack of supervision surrounding the victim and the body of water;
- A lack of life jackets;
- Alcohol use (or use of another substance; or extreme fatigue);
- Seizures or heart attack;
- Slip and falls.
The California Department of Social Services has put together a list of recommendations to help people reduce the conditions for drowning accidents.
These recommendations include appropriate signage near bodies of water and constant supervision of swimmers of all ages.
California Laws and Regulations Related to Drowning Accidents
To keep Californians safe from drowning, the state has elected to implement the following language:
- Senate Bill 422 details the types of safety barriers that must be present around California swimming pools;
- Assembly Bill 1020 discusses the types of suction systems and anti-entrapment devices that must be present in CA swimming pools;
- Assembly Bill 2114 lays out the permits and provisions necessary for swimming pool safety in California;
- HSC's Swimming Pool Safety Act defines swimming pools and creates expectations for their use, their upgrades, and their associated structures and enclosures.
Publicly Owned Swimming Pools
Operators of public pools are exposed to the same premises liability lawsuits as private pool owners.
Readers should note, however, public pools frequently require the signing of a liability waiver before they are allowed to get into their pool.
Operators also will post signs surrounding the pool stating that all pool patrons waive liability for any accidents that may occur.
The issue of whether or not these waivers you are required to sign are enforceable is an often-debated issue.
Typically, guests can't waiver an owner's liability for an accident resulting in gross negligence, but there are a few exceptions.
Most waivers will state that “users waive all liability,” but this is not always accurate as there are situations where guests could file a lawsuit successfully even when a waiver was signed.
This is why you need a personal injury lawyer with experience dealing with drowning accidents to decide the best options for compensation.
Privately Owned Swimming Pools
A private pool owner could also be held liable for injuries that would fall under the umbrella of premises liability.
All property owners have a duty of care related to guests on their property. Put simply, they are legally responsible to make sure their visitors are safe and taking adequate safety precautions to prevent accidents and injuries.
This is especially true if minors are invited to your home and must be supervised around the pool. If a child drowns in your pool, you could face a lawsuit for negligence from the child's parents.
It must be proven, however, under premises liability that the pool owner was negligent in their duty of care. Put simply, negligence occurs when somebody fails to do what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
Perhaps the owner could be found negligent for any of the following:
- Failure to provide adequate supervision;
- Failed to install proper fencing around their swimming pool; or
- Failed to properly maintain their pool.
While trespassers are not typically afforded a duty of care, private pool owners should take some steps to prevent underage trespassers from accessing their swimming pools.
Department of Recreation and Parks
Many pools are owned by the state government, such as the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
While they still fall under the same rules of premises liability, private citizens who are victims can't file a conventional civil lawsuit against the government.
Rather, you have to follow the rules under the California Tort Claims Act that address claims filed against a government entity.
These types of injury lawsuits are quite different than a regular lawsuit against a public or private pool owner as they have specific restrictions and timelines (statute of limitations) that must be followed.
Common Claims for Drowning Accidents
Typically, a drowning lawsuit will involve either a surviving victim or one of their family members pursuing compensation for pain, suffering, or wrongful death.
They will seek this compensation from the person presumed liable for the incident. Therefore, liability is at the heart of most drowning accident cases.
Generally, there are different categories of swimmers that can affect liability, and property owners are liable for providing reasonably safe conditions or they can be found negligent.
Other possible liable parties include hotels, motels, gyms, private clubs, daycare facilities, among others. You may make any of the liability claims against the defendant in your case:
- That they were negligent. This will involve an investigation into their duty of care and a demonstration that they breached that duty of care;
- That they're liable under premises liability. This is a specific type of negligence that assumes that people who either manage or own property are liable for any incidents that may happen on the premises
- That they're responsible for wrongful death. This will involve demonstrating their negligence or proving that they had an intent to harm.
Common Defenses to Challenge Claim
The defendant may attempt to counter your claim. Common defenses include that there is an assumption of the risk that presumes that swimming is dangerous, and the victim assumed the risk of drowning by electing to take part in the activity.
They may also claim there was no duty of care. This defense will attempt to establish that the defendant did not owe care to the victim, which is a common defense when trespassing was an issue.
A waived liability defense can be used if the victim signed a waiver (e.g., for a recreational sport), the defendant might have some level of protection to lean upon in court.
Typical Compensation for Drowning Accidents in California
If the court deems the defendant liable for the accident, you may be able to fight for compensatory damages. Swimming pool accident victims could recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Compensation for damages will depend on the circumstances. These may include the value of the following:
- Related medical expenses,
- Counseling for the victim or their family,
- Physical therapy and counseling,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering,
- Ongoing physical therapy,
- Permanent disfigurement,
- Loss of consortium,
- Wrongful death,
- Funeral and burial expenses,
- Income that the deceased would have earned,
- Loss of support and companionship.
Serious injuries could end up costing millions for victims and their families. Insurance companies don't always cover the full cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Thus, a personal injury claim could seek compensation for all medical expenses and the cost of any future medical and rehabilitative treatment in cases where the victim survived.
Sadly, in most cases, victims in swimming pool accidents die due to drowning. Their family members might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.
These types of claims usually cover all medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, and pain and suffering.
Proving liability for a swimming pool injury accident is often complex and normally involves proof of negligence or premises liability against the responsible party.
If the responsible party is operated by the state, then you must adhere to governmental torts claim rules, which have many deadlines and other restrictions.
If you or a family member is a victim of negligence in a swimming pool accident, then we can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to receive.
Injury Justice Law Firm serves clients throughout Southern California. We are based in Los Angeles County.
We don't charge any fees unless we win your case. Contact our firm at (818) 781-1570 for a free case consultation.