Taking a dip in a swimming pool is especially popular during South Carolina’s sweltering summers. Swimming is a great way to beat the heat, but nothing stops the fun faster than an unfortunate drowning accident or even a drowning death. All swimming pools pose the possible risk of accidental drowning. If the accident occurs at a private residence, you may wonder if the homeowner is legally liable for the accident.
Whether you are staying at a private rental or you’re taking a swim in your neighbor’s backyard pool, it’s important to know about your rights to possible litigation. If you or someone you know has suffered a drowning accident, contact the experienced team at Pracht Injury Lawyers. We can assess your situation, provide the legal advice you need, and help you get the justice you deserve.
Steps to Take Following a Drowning Accident
It’s understandable that a drowning accident would be a major cause for alarm. The risk of accidental drowning, including catastrophic brain injury or even death, is always possible around swimming pools. This is especially true with younger children. They may not understand the potential danger involved.
If you are in such a situation, keep these basic steps in mind:
- Rescue the drowning victim from the pool.
- Apply emergency first aid, including CPR, if necessary.
- Call 911 to request immediate medical help.
- Get the victim all the medical care they need to recover.
- Call Pracht Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.
From a liability standpoint, drowning accidents at private residences can be complex affairs. A skilled and knowledgeable lawyer can tell you about your possible options. They can speak to the insurance companies on your behalf. And, if necessary, they can proceed with a personal injury lawsuit to get the justice you deserve.
Private Premises Owners Are Legally Liable for Drowning Accidents
In South Carolina, private property owners have certain legal duties. With businesses, this duty extends to customers and employees. They must take reasonable steps to maintain a safe environment. For example, you have the right to take legal action if you get hurt at a supermarket due to the store’s negligence.
The same is true with private residences and the guests who visit them. This falls under premises liability law. Property owners are responsible for accidents that occur on their property. Residential pool owners in South Carolina must ensure their pools are safe. They must fix or adequately warn visitors about potential hazards. Owners also have a duty to secure their pools against unauthorized use.
The extent of responsibility depends on the visitor, as follows.
- An invitee is someone who enters the premises to benefit the owner, like a pool cleaner. The owner must take reasonable steps to locate, fix, or warn about possible dangers.
- A licensee is someone invited by the owner who benefits from visiting. An example is a friend who comes over to use a backyard pool. The homeowner must take reasonable steps to inform licensees about concealed dangerous conditions.
- An adult trespasser enters the property without the owner’s permission. The owner generally owes no duty to the trespasser except not to hurt them on purpose.
- A child trespasser is different from an adult trespasser. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, a swimming pool is deemed “attractive” to a child. The owner must take steps to guard the pool so a child trespasser will not be injured. This may involve putting up a fence with a locked gate.
Sometimes, drowning injuries may not have been preventable. But, if the property owner is negligent in keeping their visitors safe, they could be liable for injuries. This can extend to drowning deaths and catastrophic brain injuries, as well as more minor injuries. If you aren’t sure if the property owner is liable in your case, call Pracht Injury Lawyers for legal advice.
In general, South Carolina has a statute of limitations of three years. This means that plaintiffs must file their personal injury lawsuit within three years of the accident.
Common Causes of Drowning Injuries and Deaths
Drowning accidents can take on different forms. At its most tragic are drowning deaths. There are also a number of nonfatal submersion injuries. Catastrophic brain injuries can occur from drowning. These can lead to permanent brain damage. People who survive drowning injuries can face lifelong consequences. Depriving the brain of oxygen can cause learning disabilities, memory problems, and loss of some bodily functions.
Some common causes of drowning accidents at private residences include the following:
- Lack of supervision. Without the watchful eye of a responsible adult, children can behave dangerously.
- Dangerous behavior. Diving into a shallow pool is a common example of this. The person may hit their head and render themselves unconscious in the water.
- Insufficient security. Trespassers may access the swimming pool without permission. They may then suffer drowning injuries without the owner’s knowledge.
- Poor drain maintenance. The suction of pool drains can hold swimmers underwater. It is imperative drains are installed and maintained correctly.
- Inadequate swimming ability. Someone who is unable to swim with adequate skill is at serious risk of drowning.
- Lack of safety equipment. Some people may need life jackets or other flotation devices for safety.
- Poor lighting or improper signage. Visitors may not be aware of possible dangers. Someone may accidentally slip into the pool without knowing it is there.
Legal Claims to Recover Damages
A drowning accident at a private residence may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. If the victim passes away as a result of their injury, it may be grounds for a wrongful death claim. South Carolina law says victims should be fairly compensated. The possible damages to be recovered are similar to serious car accidents and other personal injury claims and include the following:
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Current medical costs
- Anticipated future medical expenses
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
- Funeral and burial expenses in the case of drowning deaths
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
Navigating the legal system is complex and confusing. It can feel almost impossible to get fair compensation from insurance companies. Even if the home insurance policy covers pool-related accidents, insurers may only offer an unfair settlement. A skilled personal injury lawyer can review your case and help you get the fair resolution you deserve. With years of experience, Pracht Injury Lawyers is prepared to fight on your behalf.