Aug 02 2019

Assessing Drowning Basics, Misconceptions and Liability

During the summer season each year, we unfortunately see a general rise in the number of drowning incidents that take place. Particularly risky for young children and adolescents, where it’s a leading cause of unintentional death, drowning can be a risk in a few different scenarios.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we handle numerous drowning cases within both our wrongful death and personal injury attorney services (drowning is not always a fatal event, as we’ll discuss in a bit). Let’s go over the basics of drowning, a couple common misconceptions that have made the rounds, and discuss whether there might be liability factors at play in certain drowning situations.

drowning basics misconceptions liability

Drowning Definition and Types

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is described as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity.”

As this paragraph indicates, and as we mentioned above, drowning encompasses many cases where death does not take place – in fact, the vast majority of recorded drownings are non-fatal. But even in these cases, drowning can be a major event, with even small amounts of liquid entering the lungs and causing damage to the lining found there. This liquid can also lead to infection, fluid buildup or inflammation. Luckily, the symptoms here will generally be easy to spot and remedy.

“Secondary Drowning” and Related Misconceptions

Unfortunately, a number of popular news outlets and social media mediums have published reports about something called “secondary drowning” or “dry drowning.” These terms refer to cases where children or others were rescued from water during a potential drowning situation, appeared just fine immediately afterward, but then died without warning hours or even days later.

The terms listed above are not medically accurate, and in reality these situations are virtually nonexistent. If death or other drowning symptoms do take place long after the initial event, there will be signs pointing to this – your child will have labored breathing, for instance, or may cough, wheeze, report chest pain or even become dizzy. In other cases, a different medical condition is the reason for the death or other symptoms. If you see any of these signs in someone who was rescued from water, seek immediate medical attention.

Drowning and Liability

In some cases, a person who has drowned or their family may have a liability claim related to the incident. The most common such situations are those where a public swimming location was not safe – perhaps conditions make slips more likely, or deep water was not marked properly. If it can be proven that negligence on the part of pool operators, or even of others present in the pool at the time, was the cause of a drowning incident, the victim could have a claim. If you believe this to be the case for you or someone close to you, speak to our personal injury lawyers right away to find out more.

To learn more about drowning cases, or for information on any of our personal injury or auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.