Drowning accidents are an event no family should ever have to face. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related accidental deaths for children ages one to four in America and the third leading cause of accidental death worldwide. The CDC estimates there are almost 4,000 unintentional drowning deaths and over 8,000 nonfatal drownings in the country every year, and the majority of those affected are young children.
If you or someone you love suffered a fatal or nonfatal drowning accident due to another’s negligence in Birmingham, you should consider speaking to the Birmingham child injury attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP about filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit. We can help you get compensation for your injuries or to get closure after a tragic accident. Call (205) 324-1212 today for a free consultation, and let us review your case to determine eligibility. We’d like to help you get justice. Call today.
What Are Drowning Accidents and How Do They Occur?
The CDC defines drowning as the process of experiencing respiratory impairment through immersion or submersion in liquid, usually water. Drowning can be fatal or nonfatal and is a leading cause of injury and death for young children.
Even nonfatal drowning can lead to lasting impairment or disability. The damage done to the brain by lack of oxygen varies widely, but in general, the longer the brain goes without oxygen, the more severe the impairment. Brain damage from hypoxemia (lack of oxygen in the blood) is the leading complication in nonfatal drowning victims.
There are two types of drowning, wet and dry drowning. Wet drowning is when water actually enters the lungs, but in ten to twenty percent of drownings, no water enters the lungs at all. These are referred to as dry drownings. Only a small amount of water is usually found in the lungs of most fatal wet drowning victims, around four cc/kg of body weight. That’s only about three ounces of water for a 50-pound child.
Drowning occurs when water enters the lungs and destroys the surfactant chemical that allows the tiny air pockets in the lungs, called alveoli, to open and close. Water removes the surfactant from the inner surface of these air pockets and prevents them from functioning.
The circumstances that cause drowning tend to vary with age. Infants tend to drown more often in bathtubs, children tend to drown more often in swimming pools, and adolescents tend to drown more often in lakes, rivers, and natural bodies of water.
Contrary to popular belief, drowning is hard to spot. Drowning is usually a silent act, as the victim cannot make noise with their mouth underwater. Most drowning victims are found floating on the surface or resting at the bottom of the body of water.
All drowning accidents, fatal or nonfatal, are considered preventable.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
If the drowning accident was caused by another person’s negligence, such as a lifeguard not providing adequate supervision or a sitter forgetting to lock a door leading to the family swimming pool, you should consider speaking to an attorney about a personal injury or wrongful death claim. We can provide you with options for holding the responsible party accountable for their negligent actions.
Filing a claim or lawsuit is not an easy task and requires an experienced attorney for guidance and legal counsel. We will investigate the accident, interview any eyewitnesses, and gather evidence and documentation to support your claim, allowing you and your family the time you need to grieve or process the trauma of what’s happened. We will work tirelessly, so you don’t have to.
Obtaining compensation for a drowning accident requires an understanding of damages and how they might apply to your claim. You can be compensated for more than just medical bills. You can be compensated for the emotional trauma of the accident, or in the worst-case scenario, the wrongful death of a child. Assigning a monetary value to these damages should only be done with the help of a qualified lawyer.
The vast majority of injury or wrongful death claims are handled with a settlement from the negligent party’s insurance company before the case goes to court. A settlement is a cash amount designed to compensate you for your losses in exchange for your agreement to drop any further legal claim you have against the responsible party. If the insurance company doesn’t believe you have a valid claim, they can deny payment altogether. With an attorney to assist you, you can move forward with filing a lawsuit in Alabama court and let a judge or jury decide your case.
Why Hire Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP for My Drowning Accident?
Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP has deep connections within our community and North Central Alabama. We’ve been helping accident victims in Birmingham and elsewhere with their injury claims and lawsuits for over twenty years, and during that time, we’ve seen accidents of all types, from whiplash injuries to multi-million dollar wrongful death settlements.
Our firm’s founders, Ken Riley and Kirby Farris, are both Alabama natives who believe in providing compassionate, hands-on legal counsel. We think the best way to help our clients is to listen directly to your needs and keep an open line of communication with you at all times. This approach has led to success both in and out of the courtroom. We’ve been able to obtain millions of dollars in settlements and awards for our clients.
We understand the financial strain a drowning accident can place on a family, which is why we work on contingency. This means that there are no up-front costs for our services. We take payment out of any settlement or award we’re able to obtain for you. There are no fees unless we win your case.
Injuries from Nonfatal Drowning Accidents
The majority of injuries in nonfatal drowning accidents result from the lack of oxygen supply to the brain, or hypoxemia. The longer someone is unconscious from drowning, the lower their chances of complete recovery. Some of the short and long-term effects of this kind of injury include:
- Loss of memory
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of self-control
- Poor judgment
- Abnormal development
- Speech difficulties
- Learning disabilities
Compensation for Drowning Accidents
The amount of compensation you might be able to obtain varies widely depending on the circumstances of the accident. In general, the more severe the accident or injury, the more compensation you should demand from the responsible party.
Obtaining compensation requires proving that the responsible party was negligent. We must show, with evidence, that the responsible party was supposed to behave in a certain way, didn’t behave as they should, their behavior caused an accident, and that accident caused injuries, losses or death. If we can prove negligence in a claim or lawsuit, we should be able to obtain compensation.
The amount you should demand is determined by examining the verifiable losses, or damages, you sustain as a result of the accident. Some of these damages are material in nature, and some are not.
Economic damages are losses with a dollar amount attached. Some examples include:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Increased living expenses
- Lost opportunity
Non-economic damages relate to the injury or death itself or, more specifically, the mental or emotional strain of going through the accident. These types of damages are more nebulous in nature and include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Alabama also allows certain injury victims to claim punitive damages. These are not compensatory but are intended to punish the responsible party and deter them from ever acting in the same manner again. Punitive damages can only be awarded by a judge or jury in cases of extreme fraud, malice, oppression, or wantonness, and the burden of proof is higher than for compensatory damages. Talk to your attorney to see if punitive damages may be available in your case.
Here are some statistics and information regarding drowning in Alabama and elsewhere:
- About one in five people who die from drowning are ages 14 or younger.
- There are five emergency department visits for nonfatal drowning injuries for every fatal drowning accident.
- Drowning can occur in as little as one inch of water.
- 23 percent of child drownings happen in or near the family swimming pool.
- For children under five years old, 87 percent of drownings occur in home swimming pools or hot tubs.
- The vast majority of drowning victims are male.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
Don’t wait any longer to get the fair and just compensation you deserve after a drowning accident. Our team of dedicated legal professionals at Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP is waiting to take your call. We will listen to your story and advise you about all the legal options available to you, regardless of whether you choose us for your legal counsel or not. You’re under no obligation.
The first consultation is absolutely free, and we only take payment if we obtain compensation for you, so you have nothing to lose. Let us help you move on after a drowning accident. Call (205) 324-1212 today.