Swimming in pools and lakes around Pennsylvania can be great fun. However, tragedy can strike quickly. All too often, accidental drownings take the lives of children and adults. These incidents can happen within seconds.
The Philadelphia accidental drowning lawyers at Mattiacci Law know that swimming pool accidents can leave families devastated. When that occurs, our legal team of personal injury attorneys is ready to offer our support to help you and your family deal with the unthinkable.
Our group of accident lawyers are familiar with the safety rules expected of pool owners and others who own or manage pools or swimming areas. Our firm has nearly 20 years of experience handling catastrophic injury cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Drowning Accident Statistics
Accidental drownings are far too common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States between 2004 and 2015. Among those who died in accidental drownings, one in five were children under the age of 14. For every child who died, there were five additional children who nearly drowned and required emergency care.
Drownings are the single most deadly type of accident to very small children. According to Pool Safely, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 through 4. Citing CPSC data, Pool Safely stated that approximately 350 children drown in pools and spas every year. That is nearly one young child every single day who dies from drowning. Boys were twice as likely to die in an accidental drowning than girls.
These types of accidents are almost entirely preventable.
How Can Accidental Drownings Be Prevented?
Accidental drownings can be prevented by strictly following safety rules. These rules include:
- Have a four-sided fence of adequate height (at least 4 feet high) surrounding the pool.
- Use a self-closing and self-latching gate for every pool and spa.
- Never leave children unattended near a pool. Watch children at all times.
- Provide US Coast Guard approved flotation devices to children when they are near pools.
- Install alarms on fence gates to detect openings.
- Use pool monitors or alarms to detect when someone enters the pool.
- Have pool safety equipment such as a safety line, ring buoy, and life hook.
- Use drain covers over all suction drains.
Our Philadelphia swimming pool accident lawyers are familiar with the safety rules expected of pool owners. We have experience in evaluating and understanding how these rules must be followed to help ensure the safety of swimmers young and old.
How to Recognize the Signs of Drowning
Unlike what is shown in movies or television, drowning victims often do not thrash around in the water. Victims are usually silent, struggling to breathe and to say above the water line. Recognizing the signs of drowning is essential to saving both children and adults before it is too late.
According to the Utah Department of Health, these are some of the more common signs of drowning:
- Gasping for air or hyperventilating
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with an open mouth
- Eyes that are glassy and empty, unable to focus, or closed
- Hair over the forehead or eyes
- Staying vertical in the water – not using his or her legs
- Attempting to roll over onto his or her back
- Appearing to climb an invisible ladder
- Struggling to stay afloat
There are heartbreaking incidents where people, especially children, have drowned in plain sight of others. This can happen quietly and quickly. It is not obvious when a child or adult is drowning. They cannot yell or call for help. They will not splash or thrash around. This is completely different from what people expect to see.
It is not enough to simply be in the area when a child or a weak swimmer is in a pool. Attention must be kept on the child or swimmer to ensure he or she is safe.
For a chilling video that details how drowning victims can easily be overlooked, see this local news feature from KMSP-TV in Minneapolis.
What Kinds of Injuries Can Pool Accidents Cause?
Swimming pool accidents can cause dangerous, permanent, and even fatal injuries. These include:
- Death – tragically this occurs all too often
- Pulmonary injuries - water entering the lungs can cause swelling, edema, inflammation, and difficulty breathing.
- Neurological injuries - a lack of oxygen can cause brain damage. This is often referred to as hypoexia and later, hypoxia
- Cardiovascular injuries - heart arrythmia (irregular heartbeat) can be associated with oxygen deprivation from drowning
The risk of brain damage is especially dangerous for drowning victims. If a victim is deprived of oxygen he or she can suffer hypoxemia, or an abnormally low oxygen level in the blood. This can lead to tissue damage. This can also cause cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain. This swelling is especially dangerous and can occur up to 24 hours after a swimmer nearly drowns. Intracranial pressure inside the brain may need to be relieved through surgery. Up to 20% of swimmers who survive a near drowning still sustain neurological injuries.
Brain damage can cause ongoing and permanent issues. This includes memory loss, behavioral problems, delayed development, speech problems, and other disabilities.
Our team of Philadelphia pool accident lawyers are very familiar with handling cases for clients who have suffered serious brain and lung injuries.
Who May be Responsible for a Drowning Accident?
Responsibility for a drowning accident will depend on the facts of each case. People or companies who may bear responsibility for a drowning accident can include:
- Property Owners – people who have a pool on their property may be responsible if a person drowns in the pool. If the owner is negligent for failing to have a fence, failing to have a self-closing and self-latching gate, or has otherwise failed to keep the area safe, he or she may be held responsible.
- Hotels and businesses – hotels, motels, and business may be liable if they fail to provide fencing or comply with local and national safety laws. This can include failing to provide covers over suction drains and failing to post all necessary warnings.
- Government entities – Many local municipalities and towns have community pools. Liability can depend on the laws of that particular state. Pennsylvania also has very limited time requirement in proving notice to a municipality of a potential claim.
Our team of Philadelphia accidental drowning lawyers will investigate to identify any potential defendant. This may include homeowners, businesses, lifeguards, and any other person or company that failed to provide required supervision, safety devices, instructions, or warnings.
Legal Damages Caused by Accidental Drownings
Our team of swimming accident attorneys fights to get the compensation our clients deserve when tragedy strikes. In swimming accident cases, this can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Future lost earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
- Survival action
- Emotional damages
Our experienced team of Philadelphia drowning accident lawyers has nearly two decades of experience in handling catastrophic injury cases. We know how to best evaluate your case and maximize your recovery. Our injury team has the know-how to identify each element of damages and how to get the best possible recovery in your case.
Contact a Philadelphia Accidental Drowning Lawyer
If you have lost a loved one in an pool accident or if you or a family member has been injured by a near-drowning, contact the Philadelphia accidental drowning lawyers at Mattiacci Law today. Our team stands ready to help your family. We will thoroughly investigate the facts of the incident to identify anyone who may be at fault. Our lawyers will fight obtain justice against those responsible.
We have a proven track record of fighting for our clients in complex cases for nearly twenty years. We will put that experience to work for you and your family.
Contact our firm today for a free consultation.