blog home Premises Liability Who Is Liable When a Drowning Occurs in South Carolina?

Swimming pools are a great way to have fun and cool off during hot South Carolina summers, but they are not without risk. Every year, approximately 3,960 people die from drowning in the U.S., at an average rate of 11 deaths per day, as reported by the CDC. An estimated 8,080 nonfatal drownings occur every year, at an average rate of 22 per day. Our state has one of the highest drowning rates in the country.

Children are particularly vulnerable to drowning accidents, according to the CDC:

  • For children ages one to four, drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury death, second only to motor vehicle accidents.
  • More children of that age group die from drowning than from any other cause besides birth defects.
  • For every child who suffers fatal drowning, another eight require emergency medical treatment for nonfatal drowning, which can cause brain damage and long-term disability.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Drowning Accidents?

Certain factors make drowning accidents more likely to occur, including:

  • Inability to swim: People who are weak swimmers or cannot swim have a higher risk of drowning. Formal swimming lessons can help reduce the risk.
  • Missing or inadequate fencing around pools: Swimming pools are considered “attractive nuisances.” As children are naturally attracted to them, property owners are required to install barriers such as pool fencing to prevent young children from gaining access.
  • Lack of close supervision: Where there is water, drowning can happen quickly and quietly to unsupervised children.
  • Alcohol or drug use: Among adolescents and adults, alcohol is involved in up to 70% of water recreation deaths and nearly one in four emergency room visits for drowning, according to CDC. Certain prescription medications can also increase the risk of drowning, particularly medications frequently prescribed for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental conditions.

Where Do Drownings Most Often Occur?

The risk of drowning by location varies with age. Two-thirds of all drownings among infants under one year of age occur in bathtubs. Most drownings occur in residential swimming pools among children ages one through four. More than 50% of fatal and nonfatal drownings among people ages 15 and older happen in natural waters, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Who Is Liable for Drowning Accidents?

Liability for an accidental drowning will depend on the circumstances and whose negligence caused the accident. When drowning occurs in a swimming pool on someone else’s property, the property owner may be liable for injuries if a hazard existed, and the owner failed to take steps to correct it or adequately warn visitors. This legal obligation applies to guests who are expressly or implicitly invited onto the property. Trespassers do not have the same protection under the law, except for young children, who may be drawn to swimming pools and may not recognize the danger. For boating accident drownings, potentially liable parties may include the owner or operator of the boat or another vessel.

What Forms of Compensation Are Available for Drowning Accidents?

If you have lost a loved one in a drowning accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim for compensation against the responsible party. Damages are designed to compensate you for your losses, and in cases of egregious conduct, to punish the defendant for wrongdoing. In the case of a nonfatal drowning, you may have a claim against the responsible party for financial and nonfinancial losses, including medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Contact Allen Law at (843) 882-5005 to schedule a free initial consultation. Our Charleston personal injury attorneys can advise you of your options under the law and help you pursue the maximum compensation available for a drowning accident.

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