At Bisnar Chase, we have more than three decades of experience protecting the rights of fatal and non-fatal swimming pool victims. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for individuals and families that have been deeply affected by another person or entity’s negligence or wrongdoing.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a swimming pool accident, please contact our experienced California drowning lawyers at 800-561-4887 for a free and comprehensive consultation. Absolute privacy and compassion guaranteed.
Drowning Accidents in California
There are few activities as refreshing and fun as taking a dip in a swimming pool. It is so much fun that we often forget just how dangerous swimming can be.
Hundreds of people, especially young children, are killed in unintentional drowning accidents in California each year.
In fact, drowning is the most common cause of unintentional death for children between 0 and 4 years old in California. In addition to tragic drowning fatalities, swimming pool accidents can also result in near-drowning, which can leave a victim brain-injured or severely disabled.
Fault and liability issues in swimming pool accident cases can be complex and challenging. If you or someone you love has been injured or has died as the result of someone else’s negligence, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options.
An experienced California swimming pool accident attorney may be able to help you get compensation.
California Swimming Pool Accident Statistics
Drowning Deaths Per Year in California
According to the Drowning Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual age-adjusted drowning death rate in the United States during 2016-2020 was 1.28 per 100,000 people (including boating-related drowning deaths).
In California specifically, there have been over 300 drownings since 2018, with nearly half of those involving children.
The CDC also reports that there are over 4,000* fatal unintentional drownings each year, including boating-related drownings in the United States. This means that the number of drowning deaths yearly in California is likely relatively high.
It is important to note that victims of near-drowning incidents often experience life-long disabilities, including central nervous system damage contributing to varying levels of brain damage and respiratory, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular disorders.
To reduce the number of drowning deaths in California, the state has implemented various safety measures, such as Senate Bill 442 (Chaptered 670, statutes of 2017), which requires two of seven safety barriers to keep children from accessing pools and Assembly Bill 1020, which requires public swimming pools to have anti-entrapment devices and systems.
Assembly Bill 2114 requires swimming pool safety measures and the Department of Public Health, Department of Child Care Licensing, and Department of Boating and Waterway all provide resources to help promote water safety.
Top 10 Symptom of Near Drowning
Not all victims of drowning accidents are killed. Near drowning is when a victim is rescued before suffering fatal injuries. There are many symptoms of near drowning, including:
- Coughing up pink sputum
- Gasping respirations
- Abdominal distention
- Traumatic Brain Injury
If the drowning victim stopped breathing and is revived, it is possible that he or she has suffered permanent brain damage because of the lack of oxygen. These types of nonfatal drowning injuries, in addition to severe brain damage, may also result in long-term disabilities such as memory issues, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functioning, also known as permanent vegetative state.
Dry drowning, otherwise known as secondary drowning, occurs at least 1-24 hours after water inhalation. Secondary Drowning (dry drowning) takes place when water seeps into the lungs and then induces swelling that makes it difficult for oxygen to flow.
What parents need to know about dry drowning is that children are usually the victims of this rare occurrence and can lead to a child to having trouble breathing and may even result in death. Over 1%-2% of children experience dry drownings and even though it doesn’t happen often, it is strongly suggested that you pay close attention to the signs.
5 signs of dry drowning:
- Coughing: Your child coughing excessively is a sign that his/her lungs are struggling to let oxygen pass through their airwaves. Coughing is related to your child’s difficulty to breath.
- Exhaustion: If your child was energetic in the pool but suddenly is sleepy or tired this is a prominent sign of dry drowning. Your child being drained abruptly of energy means that they are not receiving oxygen to the blood.
- Vomiting: When the body is lacking oxygen and is suddenly experiencing inflammation this is a symptom of dry drowning. Gagging and coughing is a sign that the body is under extreme stress.
- Confusion: Whenever your child is acting out of character and is not remembering much, again this could be a warning that not enough oxygen is going to the brain. The child may also feel dizzy or sick.
- Heavy breathing: Nostrils flaring up and fast shallow breathing means that the lungs are working harder than normal. If your child is breathing so deeply to point that his/her ribs and collarbone are being exposed, you need to seek medical attention immediately.
If your child is displaying any of these symptoms call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
Preventive measures of dry drowning comes in supervision. Paying special attention to your child while swimming is important. Also if your child is learning how to swim take safety precautions by providing flotation devices and making sure that they stay in the shallow part of the pool.
Under California law, all pool owners and landlords must put up an enclosure or fence around their pool. The fence has to be at least 5 feet high and it must completely surround the pool.
Gates must also have self-locking and self-latching gates. This will help prevent young children from wandering off and falling into the pool. Here are a few other important safety tips for all pool owners and swimmers:
- Never leave children unsupervised by a pool. Even if they are excellent swimmers, it is important that someone is nearby. If you are the supervising adult, remain focused on the children. Do not turn away to talk to someone or take a phone call.
- Avoid alcohol around the pool. The heat from the sun can increase the effects of alcohol. Individuals who are drinking are much more likely to drown.
- Take a water safety course. Swimmers of all abilities would be well advised to take a formal swimming lesson.
- Remain in arm’s length. When there are young swimmers, it is necessary to be alongside them in the pool. Staying within arm’s reach of an inexperienced swimmer could help save his or her life.
- Install pool and door alarms. Property owners would be well advised to install an alarm on their backdoor and on the pool fence gate.
- Learn CPR and have a phone nearby. In case of an emergency, it will be necessary to call for help and to perform CPR immediately.
- Use life jackets. Young and old inexperienced swimmers should be given life jackets instead of inflatable armbands. Floating devices can deflate and become useless.
- Properly maintain the pool area. Uneven paving and broken ladders can result in devastating falling accidents and drowning incidents.
Swimming Pool Liability Claims
Owning a pool comes with a lot of responsibility. It is possible to hold a pool owner liable for any injuries or fatalities that result from their failure to follow safety regulations.
For example, if a child drowns in a pool that does not have proper fencing surrounding it, then, that pool owner can be held civilly liable for an accident that occurs. A pool owner cannot, however, be held accountable for every incident that occurs there.
The victim or the victim’s family will have to prove that the pool owner’s negligence was a contributing factor in the accident.
In general, there are three categories of swimmers that affect liability: invitee, licensee and trespasser. Property owners are legally responsible for providing reasonably safe conditions for all guests to their property. If an invitee to the premises is injured because of the negligence of the property owner, then, the victim may file a claim.
Property owners are also required to provide reasonably safe conditions to persons who are allowed to enter the pool area for business reasons. Trespassers, however, do not have permission to be on the property and will therefore find it challenging to hold the property owners responsible for their injuries.
Other potentially liable parties in swimming pool accidents may include private clubs, hotels, daycare programs, childcare centers and governmental agencies in charge of maintaining public pools. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the at-fault party or entity can be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses.
Compensation for Victims
Swimming pool accident victims can recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. They can recover compensation for the following damages, depending on the nature and circumstances of the incident:
- Medical expenses: Serious injuries may end up costing millions for victims and their families. In some cases, the victim’s insurance company may not cover the full cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation. A personal injury claim can seek compensation for all medical expenses and the cost of any future medical and rehabilitative treatment.
- Lost wages: Injured victims may be forced to miss significant time at work while recovering.
- Pain and suffering: These are non-economic damages including physical pain, emotional trauma, permanent injuries and disabilities and loss of life’s enjoyment.
- Wrongful death: When an individual dies in a swimming pool accident, his or her family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. Such claims usually cover medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income and pain and suffering.
To speak with a lawyer that specializes in near drownings and fatal swimming pool accidents, call toll free 949-203-3814 for free case review.