According to the CDC, drowning is the second-most common cause of accidental death for children aged 14 and younger (only behind motor vehicle accidents) and is the fifth-most common cause of unintentional death in the United States, regardless of age.
This shows that downing accidents can and do happen with alarming frequency. In some cases, victims may be able to file a drowning accident lawsuit against an at-fault party.
Where and How Do Most Drowning Accidents Happen?
Despite common opinion, drowning doesn’t only happen in public pools. It happens on beaches, in lakes and streams, and other regulated swimming areas.
Part of why drowning accidents are so dangerous is that they’re often quiet. Drowning can occur almost silently, particularly if someone starts to accidentally swallow water when they’re already beneath the surface of a pool or lake. In too many cases, onlookers may see someone drowning but not realize it, and may only react too late to give them help.
In other cases, drowning accidents may occur at beaches through cliff diving accidents. Cliff jumping can injure someone on the way down or on impact, rendering them unable to swim .
Even in cases when fatal drownings are prevented, the CDC indicates that more than 50% of all drowning accident survivors treated in emergency departments are later fully hospitalized or transferred to other clinics for further care. This is much more frequent than survivors of all other unintentional injuries, who only have hospitalization and extended-care rates of 6%.
Drowning Accident Frequency and Statistics
The New York Department of Health provides the following drowning accident statistics:
- Drowning at unregulated pools and beaches are much more common than at regulated facilities
- An average of over 200 people drown every year in New York
- Nice weather (in the spring and summer months) increases the number of drownings
- Beaches generally have a higher average drowning rate compared to pools. This is likely because they have a greater average number of bathers
- The average drowning occurs before noon, but the highest incidence of drowning occurs between 4 PM and 6 PM
- In most cases, high numbers of drownings occur when there are low numbers of bathers
- Males are four times more likely to drown than females
- Most drowning victims are between 11 and 25 years old, with another high incidence rate for those above 66 years of age
Average Annual Drowning Accidents by Location in New York State
Beach Drowning Accidents in 2018
- 99 deaths across all beach swimming areas
- 61 at general regulated beaches
- 24 at state parks
- 10 at temporary residences
- 4 at children’s camps
Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents
- 109 deaths across all pools
- 64 at regulated pools
- 31 at temporary residences
- 9 at children’s camps
- 5 at state parks
Drowning Accident Lawsuits
Families or surviving victims may be able to sue any at-fault parties in the event of a drowning accident. In many cases, an individual or a company may be held liable for the drowning accident if:
- There was found to be improper supervision during the time of incident
- Pool construction was not up to code
- State beach or private pool population limits were not adhered to
- A company or state park officials failed to place warning signs regarding strong/dangerous currents
- Not enough supervisors such as lifeguards were on-site at expected times during the time of an incident (i.e. open business hours)
In most drowning accident cases, legal claims focus on either negligence or wrongful death.
Who Is Eligible for Compensation After a Drowning Accident?
Drowning accident survivors may be eligible for compensation after an accident. If a drowning victim passes away, his or her family can recover compensation for funeral expenses, loss of support, and other damages, including pain and suffering.
Full compensation coverage can include:
- Related medical expenses (both past and future)
- Loss of financial and emotional support or companionship, in the event that the victim was a spouse or loved one
- Loss of future income if a surviving victim was disabled or otherwise permanently injured from the accident
How Fault is Determined for Drowning Accident Lawsuits
Liability for drowning accidents can be difficult to prove, especially when it comes to incidents at private pools. There are three main locations where drowning accidents occur: private pools, public regulated pools or beaches, and unregulated pools and beaches.
For private pools, property owners or renters may be liable for any damages or deaths on their property. It largely depends on whether they abide by state safety regulations.
New York law indicates that residential pool enclosures:
- Must be at least 4 feet high
- Must totally surround the swimming pool and prevent any unauthorized access
- Must have a space of two inches or lower between the ground and the bottom of the fence or enclosure
- Must have gates that are both self-closing and self-latching
- Cannot have openings within the enclosure that exceed 4 inches
These laws are in place to prevent children from accidentally stumbling into a private pool and falling in. If a private property owner doesn’t follow these regulations, drowning and swimming pool accident attorneys may be able to prove they are liable for any accident.
- How many lifeguards must be on scene at a given time
- What the safe hours of operation are
- Age limits for people who enter pools or beaches
Experienced drowning accident attorneys can help determine whether lifeguards, public pool or beach officials can be held responsible for the subpar safety standards that led to a given drowning accident.
However, many drowning accidents that occur at unregulated pools or beaches do not have any liable parties. In these cases, there may not be anyone to sue for compensation. Drowning accident victims and their families would be wise to seek out legal assistance from drowning accident attorneys to discover whether a potential lawsuit has any merit.
Get Legal Assistance with a Drowning Accident
Drowning accident lawsuits can be a complicated and difficult event for everyone involved. Assistance from a legal professional with experience winning these types of cases could make all the difference in building a strong and successful lawsuit.
The lawyers are Sobo & Sobo have helped drowning victims and their families from New York City and across the Hudson Valley for over 50 years by winning the compensation they deserve. Contact them at 855-468-7626 for a free consultation.