Drowning Accidents


Understanding the Risks and Legal Implications

Water-related activities hold a special allure – swimming pools, beaches, boating, and fishing all offer enticing leisure opportunities. But amidst the fun, it’s vital to remember that water can be a silent and deadly threat. Drowning accidents are tragically common, and their aftermath can be devastating for those involved.

As a lawyer who has practiced in Louisiana and Texas for almost three decades, I’ve seen firsthand the heartbreak drowning accidents can cause. This information is designed to give you a better understanding of this serious issue, the staggering statistics behind drowning, and potential legal avenues if a drowning accident has affected you or someone you love.

Drowning: A Shockingly Prevalent Problem

The BLS ( Bureau of Labor Statistics) also broke down the areas of workplace injury and found that more than 1/3 involve injury to the back. About 12% are shoulder injuries and another 12% are knee injuries. Ankle injuries make up about 9%.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common workplace injuries are:

Worldwide Concern

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a staggering 236,000 people die from drowning every year globally. This makes it the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths.

United States Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are an average of 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings annually in the U.S. – that’s an average of 11 deaths every single day. Additionally, around 8,000 nonfatal drownings occur each year, often with lasting consequences.

Vulnerable Groups

Children are disproportionately affected. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-4 in the U.S. Sadly, it remains within the top 5 causes of unintentional injury-related death for children up to age 14.

Factors Contributing to Drowning Accidents

Lack of Supervision

Drowning incidents often occur when children (or even adults) are left unsupervised near water, even for brief periods. It can take mere seconds for a tragedy to happen.

Inability to Swim

Not knowing how to swim, or overestimating swimming ability, drastically increases drowning risk. This is particularly an issue in low-income communities where access to swimming lessons is limited.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol use is a significant factor in many drownings. It impairs judgment, slows reaction times, and can lead to poor decision-making around water.

Boating Accidents

Boating Accidents

Drowning is a major hazard in boating accidents, especially when occupants aren’t wearing life vests.

Medical Conditions

Unexpected medical conditions such as seizures or heart problems can lead to drowning, even for strong swimmers.

Rip Currents

Powerful ocean currents overwhelm even experienced swimmers and can quickly drag victims away from shore.

The Lingering Impact of Non-Fatal Drowning

Drowning claims thousands of lives each year, but what about those who survive? Non-fatal drownings may seem less tragic, but they can leave victims with devastating and long-lasting consequences.

It's Not Over After Rescue

Even a short time without oxygen can cause significant damage:
  • Brain Damage: When the brain is deprived of oxygen, even for a few minutes, brain cells can start dying. This can lead to cognitive impairments, memory problems, seizures, and even permanent disability.
  • Lung Damage: Inhaling water inflames the lungs and inhibits their ability to exchange oxygen. Respiratory problems like pneumonia or long-term breathing difficulties can linger after a drowning incident.
  • Psychological Trauma: The emotional scars of a near-death experience can be debilitating. Depression, anxiety, and flashbacks are common among drowning survivors.

Don't Underestimate the Impact

Non-fatal drowning shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention after a water-related incident, even if the victim seems alright at first.

What You Should Know

  • “Dry” or “Secondary” Drowning: Symptoms may appear hours or even days after the initial event. If someone who experienced a near-drowning has trouble breathing, confusion, or extreme tiredness, seek emergency care.
  • Long-Term Needs: Survivors might require physical therapy, rehabilitation, or ongoing treatment for the impacts of the drowning. Emotional support for PTSD is also often critical.

Water safety is Paramount

Prevention is always the best option. Here are some basic safety tips:
  • Constant Supervision: Never let children swim alone, even for a moment.
  • Learn to Swim: Swimming lessons are vital for kids and beneficial for adults too.
  • Life Vests: Wear life vests on boats, and consider them for weak swimmers in pools.
  • Alcohol & Water Don’t Mix: Avoid alcohol if swimming or boating.
Drownings, even non-fatal ones, have severe and life-changing consequences. By understanding the risks and prioritizing water safety, we can work to prevent these devastating incidents.

A Drowning Accident Claim

A drowning accident, fatal or nonfatal, can leave families reeling from emotional trauma, as well as mounting financial burdens from medical care or loss of income. Legal action might be appropriate in specific instances.

Frequently Asked


Do I have a case?

This depends entirely on the specific circumstances. To have a potential case, you generally need to demonstrate the following:

  • Duty of Care: The property owner, operator, or another responsible party had a duty to provide reasonable safety for those near the body of water.
  • Breach of Duty: They failed to uphold the duty of care (e.g., no lifeguard, inadequate fencing, broken drain).
  • Causation: This negligence directly contributed to the drowning incident.
  • Damages: You or your family suffered losses as a result – medical bills, lost income, emotional suffering, etc.
Who can be held responsible for a drowning accident?

Depending on the case, several parties might bear liability:

  • Property owners: If the accident occurred on someone else’s property like a pool, waterpark, or hotel.
  • Lifeguards or pool staff: If they failed to perform their duties effectively.
  • Boat Operators: If negligent operation caused a capsizing, collision, or someone falling overboard.
  • Manufacturers: If faulty equipment (pool drain, flotation device) contributed to the drowning.
What kind of compensation can I seek?

If your case is successful, you might recover compensation for:

  • Medical Expenses: Current and ongoing costs related to the drowning (hospitalization, rehabilitation, etc.)
  • Lost Income: For wages lost due to injury or if a loved one died in the accident.
  • Pain and Suffering: For physical and emotional anguish as a consequence of the drowning.
  • Wrongful Death: In fatal cases, specific damages such as loss of companionship apply.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?

Statutes of limitations (deadlines for filing lawsuits) vary by state and type of claim. It’s essential to consult an attorney quickly after an accident to preserve your legal rights.

How much will it cost to hire a lawyer?

Many drowning accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay anything upfront, and the lawyer takes a percentage of the settlement or verdict they obtain for you.

For a Free Consultation

Contact Us

If you’ve suffered a drowning accident in  in Louisiana or Texas, don’t face it alone. Contact Bart Bernard Injury Law today for a free, confidential consultation. Our dedicated team is ready to listen to your story, assess your case, and provide the support and guidance you need to secure your rightful benefits.

Important Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes and doesn’t constitute legal advice. Every drowning case is unique, and it’s essential to consult an attorney to discuss your individual situation.