Drowning Accident Attorneys in Houston
There are many hazards that can lead to a drowning or near drowning in our Houston communities, but not all cases warrant a wrongful death or personal injury case. When someone’s negligence contributes to a drowning accident, there are legal actions surviving family members can take to help them recover compensation for the economic and noneconomic losses they suffer.
Common Causes of Drowning Deaths and Who May Be Liable
A small child can drown in very shallow water, and drowning accidents can happen in many places including water parks, hotels, apartment complexes, lakes and water drainage ditches. Pool drains are well-known causes of drowning accidents, as hair, clothing or a part of person’s body becomes stuck.
Legally, any party whose negligence led to or contributed to the accident can be held responsible. Landlords, public pool administrators, drain manufacturers and private individuals are just a few possible defendants in a drowning-related wrongful death or personal injury case. Hiring a drowning accident attorney is a first step in protecting your rights.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act may be relevant in cases against public facilities or pool drain manufacturers. It is named after a 7-year-old girl who became stuck in a tub due to suction from the drain. The girl unfortunately drowned, and her family then advocated for better pool safety standards.
The Act outlaws drains that were not ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 certified, required public pools and spas to be fitted with parts to prevent entrapment, and gave grants to states that passed similar legislation. If a public pool used an outlawed drain or failed to take adequate steps to prevent entrapment, it may be responsible under this Actif the drowning death was related to entrapment due to a drain. Further, drains that do not meet the standards established in the Act may leave manufacturers liable.
Standards for Taking Legal Action after a Drowning Accident
In wrongful death or personal injury cases, the plaintiff must prove:
the defendant owed the injured or deceased party a duty of care (if injured while trespassing, it can complicate matters, though the attractive nuisance laws may apply if a child was involved, and the property owner did not take adequate measures to secure the hazard, e.g., a pool);
the defendant breached that duty by failing to provide reasonable care to prevent harm to others;
the defendant’s negligent actions led or contributed to the accident and resultant drowning or near drowning; and
the plaintiff has suffered damages.
Compensatory damages include economic damages, like medical or funeral expenses, and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering or disability for a brain injury after a near drowning. If a wrongful death is caused by a “willful act or omission or gross negligence” by the defendant, punitive damages can be sought as well (Tex. Civ. Code Title 4 Sec. 71.009).
Different entities have different standards that qualify as negligence. For example, manufacturers may fall under strict product liability. If there is a manufacturing, design or disclosure defect in any of their products, they can be held responsible for the harm that comes from those products, even if they showed reasonable care in making the product.
50 percent of all drowning incidents involving young children and infants take place in a swimming pool. Many of the accidents count have been prevented with either proper supervision of the child or proper protection and maintenance of the pool area.