Wrongful Death Claim Resulting from Drowning

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October 22, 2015
Edward Smith

640px-Child_in_swimming_pool (1)

A dip in the swimming pool is a welcome relief from heat for many Californians.  Tourists to California, enjoy participating in water sports and using the swimming pool at their hotel of choice.  Due to the large amount of water activities Californians enjoys, it is not uncommon for parents to enroll their children in swimming classes and/or send their children to schools where swimming is taught.  While pools for the most part bring delight to old and young alike, from time to time, a tragedy occurs resulting in a wrongful death by drowning.  In the US, the National Safety Council reports that 600 children and adults drown annually in swimming pools.

Lawyers who handle wrongful death claims related to drownings, determine at the outset of the claim if the case meets the standard of premises liability and negligence.   In a nutshell, premises liability puts liability on a property owner for dangerous or hazardous conditions that the owner should have known about or should have been able to foresee.

Cases involving premises liability would be:

  • Swimming pools that are privately owned (examples of this – swim schools or private schools with pools)
  • Residential swimming pools
  • Pools on government property (examples of this – public school swimming pools or community park swimming pools)
  • Commercial pools for guests, tenants or members (examples of this – hotels, motels, gyms, apartment complexes, or water amusement parks)
  • Renters/Tenants (example of this – a renter who rents a property with a swimming pool)

Some of the dangerous or hazardous conditions that may have contributed to the drowning may include:

Maintenance Issues:  Was the pool only partially filled?  When a pool is not filled with enough water, a person may strike their head on the bottom of the pool, leaving them unconscious thus contributing to the drowning.   Was the pool murky?  Murky waters can prevent the drowning victim from being seen.  Was debris in the pool?  Debris in the pool may have contributed to the drowning victim from being seen and rescued in a timely manner.  Was the pool floor slippery?  A slippery side and bottom of a pool, can contribute to the drowning victim from being unable to get out of the pool.   If electrocution played a role in the death or drowning, electrical maintenance and installation will be investigated.  If the drowning occurred at night  questions such as, ‘Were lights on at the time of the drowning and were the light bulbs regularly changed?’ would be investigated.  Did signage exist prohibiting swimming at certain hours?

Fencing Issues:  Was it reasonable or prudent for a pool owner to install a locked gate or  fences around the pool? Did adequate security exist for the location?

Lack of Supervision: In a private residence, this issue may come into question, due to the drowning of a guest.  In public pools, a lifeguard (and/or the company who hired the lifeguard may bear responsibility if there was negligence in supervision.  Commercial pools may bear responsibility for failure to provide a lifeguard.

Another issue that Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyers are concerned with revolve around negligence on the part of the pool owner.  Did the drowning occur due to failure of upkeep by the maintenance department? For instance, allowing an accumulation of leaves on the water surface or debris to occur.  Were teachers, employees or hosts negligent in some form? Did debris cause the person to trip into the pool resulting in the drowning? Maintenance surrounding the installation of equipment and in relation to local city or county ordinances will also be evaluated.  If the death occurred at night, negligence associated with lighting  and related to signage permitting swimming in at night would be investigated.  If alcohol was served and/or the owner or guest was determined to be intoxicated at the time of the drowning would play a role in determining negligence.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death lawyer, specializing in swimming pool accidents and swimming pool drownings.  I understand that the relatives of the deceased may by experiencing pain and anger over the drowning of their loved one.  I’d be more than happy to talk with you and help you achieve a settlement.  There is no fee to talk.  Our office works on a contingency fee agreement which means that you don’t pay unless we win your case.

My staff and and I are committed to seeking justice for those who have lost a  family member.  I want you to feel comfortable with the process of hiring a wrongful death lawyer and with the lawyer you ultimately choose to represent you interests.   With this in mind, I encourage you to look at what my past clients and peers have to say about me and my team.  Please look at Google, Yelp and AVVO for reviews and peer endorsements of this Sacramento

I have included a short video to help you determine who can file a wrongful death claim.


Photo Attribution: “Child in swimming pool” by Flickr.com user “brokenchopstick” – http://www.flickr.com/photos/brokenchopstick/290244138/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Child_in_swimming_pool.jpg#/media/File:Child_in_swimming_pool.jpg