The human cost of drowning is heartbreaking.  Each day, more than 10 people die by drowning.  Children ages 1 to 4 account for more than 30% of these deaths.  And, for children ages 1 to 14, drowning is the second leading cause of death.  The death of a child due to drowning is a devastating loss from which most families never recover.  Even if the drowning is non-fatal, survivors often suffer extensive brain damage due to hypoxia or anoxia.

Through the years, the law firm of DeCamillis & Mattingly, PLLC has helped numerous families dealing with the tragic death of a loved one due to drowning.  In a drowning case, as in any wrongful death case, our primary goal is answering three fundamental questions: How did this happen?  Who is to blame?  How can we prevent this from happening again?  To obtain the answer to these three questions in a drowning case, you have to know where to look.

Initially, you have to know the standards.  There are numerous agencies and organizations which govern the operation of swimming pools in the United States.  Private pools, municipal pools, and public pools are all operated according to specific criteria.  The local health department, American Red Cross, YMCA, and International Pool and Spa Foundation are just a few of the organizations which promulgate these guidelines, rules, and regulations.  These organizations establish standards for everything from the training of lifeguards, certified pool operators, and aquatic management staff to pool construction, repair, and maintenance.  With other industry leaders, the guidelines set forth by these agencies and organizations establish the “standard of care.”

Children drown in open water, residential pools, apartment pools, hotel pools, municipal pools, and hot tubs and at water parks, summer camps, and school.  The regulations governing the operation of the facility and the “standard of care” differ depending on the type of facility.  Knowing the rules and regulations governing each type of facility is very important.

Drownings frequently occur because an individual or an organization violated the standard of care.  To know if someone violated the standard of care, an immediate inspection of the drowning location is imperative.  In addition to inspecting the property immediately, open records must be collected from the health department and any other applicable organizations.  Our firm immediately collects these records, schedules an inspection, and sends demands for the preservation of evidence.   After gathering all available information, we begin the process of determining how the drowning occurred.

Drownings occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Discolored or dirty water,
  • Inadequate supervision,
  • Inadequate signage,
  • Broken drains or pumps,
  • Lack of depth markings,
  • Improper operating procedures,
  • Inadequate fencing,
  • Defective pool equipment,
  • Defective or missing safety equipment such as safety ropes or life lines,
  • Lifeguard negligence,
  • Improper lifeguard and/or pool operator training,
  • Diving board accidents,
  • Chemical accidents,
  • Pool operator negligence,
  • Improper CPR,
  • Inadequate lighting,
  • Drain entrapment,
  • Ineffective or inadequate rules, and
  • The violation of safety or maintenance standards.

Drownings are almost always preventable.  Pool operators must understand how and why drownings occur.  Knowing the rules, implementing standards, and complying with guidelines keep people safe.  When people fail to know the rules, implement standards, and follow guidelines, people die.

If someone close to you lost their life or sustained serious injury as the result of a drowning, let us help you through this difficult time.  DeCamillis & Mattingly has the experience and expertise to hold the responsible party or parties accountable.  Contact us today at (502) 589-2822.