Drowning accidents have tragically impacted many families in Texas, resulting in 76 fatalities last year. Sadly, within the first month of 2023 alone there have already been 3 deaths due to drowning – a startling reminder that it can take mere seconds for tragedy to strike. Of those reported deaths from 2022 and thus far this year, an alarming amount occurred at pools – both public and private – as well as bathtubs; Tarrant County sadly held second place with 9 drownings making up part of what is surely an unwelcome statistic statewide. Our drowning accident lawyer helps individuals across Texas seek justice when a drowning death was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims in Drowning Cases
If someone is unfortunately involved in a drowning incident, the legal system can hold them accountable if evidence shows it was preventable. Depending on where and how such an event happened — like if negligence or faulty products were to blame — specific laws may be used for accountability. But any way you look at it, these tragedies are unfortunate losses of life that could have been avoided with proper care.
Negligence laws are designed to protect people from harm due to another’s inattention or carelessness. A property owner, for instance, has a duty of reasonable maintenance – if they don’t fulfill it and someone is injured as the result, legal consequences may follow. In such cases, even drowning accidents could lead them into hot water with law enforcement!
Laws that Apply to Drowning Cases in Texas
Premises Liability: Property owners have a responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors. Failing to address an obvious hazard can result in compliance with premises liability laws if someone is injured on the property as a consequence.
Product Liability: Product liability laws apply when a product is defectively designed or manufactured, or when the manufacturer fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions. For example, if a pool manufacturer produces a pool with a defect that leads to a drowning accident, they may be held liable for the injury.
Public Pools: The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) of 2007 is a law intended to protect swimmers from the dangers posed by powerful suction drains in public pools and spas. The VGBA requires all such facilities to be fitted with anti-entrapment drain covers that meet stringent standards laid out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, thereby guarding against hair entanglement or body part obstruction – two serious risks associated with drowning accidents.
Public Nuisance: In Texas, having a pool can be more than just attractive – it could also represent an inviting risk. The state defines ‘attractive nuisances’ as elements on properties that draw in children and may put them in harm’s way. It pays to keep pools secure so they don’t become potential hazards for the little ones!
Negligence: Property owners in Texas are expected to take steps to ensure that their pools remain secure and off-limits for children without adult supervision. This duty of care recognizes the need for additional protection around potentially dangerous conditions on the property which may attract young ones.
If a property owner fails to take adequate steps to secure their pool and a child is injured or drowns as a result, they may be held liable under the theory of attractive nuisance. In order to avoid liability, property owners should take steps to secure their pools, such as installing fencing, locks, and alarms, and ensuring that pool covers are securely fastened when the pool is not in use.
What is a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?
A personal injury claim is a legal process that allows victims to seek compensation for losses sustained as a result of another person or entity’s negligence. Personal injury claims are typically filed against the party responsible for the accident, such as a pool owner or operator.
In Texas, personal injury claims are subject to the state’s statute of limitations, which requires victims to file their claim within two years from the date of the accident. Failing to file a claim within this timeframe can result in the victim being unable to pursue compensation for their losses.
Who May Be at Fault for a Drowning Accident in Texas?
Determining fault in a drowning accident is crucial for pursuing a personal injury claim. In Texas, the party responsible for the accident may be held liable for the victim’s losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A drowning accident can have multiple parties who may be at fault, including property owners, pool maintenance companies, lifeguards, and product manufacturers. The specific circumstances of each case will determine who may be at fault and liable for the damages and injuries incurred.
For example, if a property owner fails to maintain the pool or install proper safety features, such as fencing or alarms, they may be held responsible for a drowning accident that occurs on their property. Similarly, if a pool maintenance company fails to properly maintain the pool or equipment, they may also be held liable.
In cases where lifeguards are on duty, they (or the business/city that hired them) may be held responsible if they fail to properly perform their duties, such as failing to notice a swimmer in distress or failing to respond in a timely manner.
If a product, such as a pool drain cover, is defectively designed or manufactured, the manufacturer may be held liable for any harm caused as a result.
Causes of Drowning Accidents
From busy lifeguards to overlooked pool maintenance, there are several factors that can contribute to the risk of drowning accidents.
- Lack of Supervision: Drowning accidents can occur when there is a lack of adequate supervision, such as when children are swimming unsupervised or when lifeguards are not paying attention.
- Poor Pool Maintenance: Neglecting to maintain a pool or its safety features, such as drain covers, fencing, or alarms, can lead to drowning accidents.
- Defective Products: Drowning accidents can occur as a result of defective pool or spa equipment, such as drain covers or suction outlets.
- Inadequate Lifeguard Training: Lifeguards who are not properly trained or equipped to handle emergencies may be unable to respond appropriately to a drowning incident.
- Lack of proper fencing or barriers around the pool: Pools should be surrounded by a fence or other barrier to prevent unauthorized access.
- Lack of adequate supervision: Drowning accidents can occur when lifeguards or other supervisors are not paying attention or are not present to provide help in the event of an emergency.
- Defective pool equipment: If pool equipment is found to be defective, it can lead to serious accidents, including drowning.
- Poorly maintained pool: Pools must be properly maintained to ensure they are safe for use. This includes regularly testing the water chemistry, checking for leaks, and ensuring that all equipment is functioning properly.
Types of Compensation in Drowning Accident Cases
If you are able to prove negligence in a drowning accident case, our drowning accident lawyer may be able to help you seek compensation for your losses. This can include compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and other treatments;
- Lost wages, if you are unable to work as a result of your injuries;
- Pain and suffering, which may include physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish;
- Loss of enjoyment of life, if your injuries have impacted your ability to participate in the activities you once enjoyed.
At Varghese Summersett, we understand the complexities of drowning accidents and the impact they can have on victims and their families. Our experienced personal injury lawyers are dedicated to fighting for the rights of drowning accident victims and helping them recover the compensation they deserve. Give us a call at (817) 207-4878 for a free consultation.