Each year, dozens of people in Houston and Harris County are killed or injured in drowning accidents. In 2019, 18 minors, aged 1 – 16, died in drowning accidents in Harris County. Since an infant can drown to death in as little as two inches of water, drowning accidents can occur in settings where any volume of water is present, from a bucket or bathtub, to a backyard, apartment, hotel or community swimming pool to a bayou, retention pond, lake, river or beach.
The Center for Disease Control list of main risk factors for accidental drowning includes lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access, lack of close supervision while swimming, location, failure to wear floatation devices, alcohol use, and seizure disorders.
The sad thing is many of these fatal and non-fatal Houston drowning accidents shouldn’t have happened. They happened because a child was left unsupervised for a few minutes, a swimming pool gate was left open, warning signs weren’t posted, or somebody slipped and fell into the water due to an improperly maintained deck — in other words, they happened due to someone else’s negligence.
Fatal and Non-Fatal Accidental Drownings
Fatal drownings occur when a person is submerged for too long under water and the brain dies from lack of oxygen. When a person dies as a result of a fatal drowning accident, their surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
While no amount of money can adequately compensate you for the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death suit can help ease the financial challenges and emotional pain caused by the decedent’s unexpected passing. As a plaintiff in a wrongful death action, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical, funeral and other death-related expenses
- Pain and suffering before death
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of love and companionship
Not all accidental drownings are fatal. Non-fatal accidental drownings can leave the victim with serious, life-changing injuries. According to the CDC, more than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care.
Nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities, such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state). Victims in non-fatal accidental drownings can seek damages for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, to name a few.
Houston Swimming Pool Accidental Drownings
In Houston, drowning accidents most frequently occur in swimming pools. Unsecured swimming pools are especially dangerous for children. These accidents often occur because the pool’s owner or operator:
- Failed to properly maintain pool equipment
- Failed to maintain or install proper gates and fencing around the pool
- Didn’t provide adequate supervision
- Failed to put up the proper warning signs
- Failed to install the proper safety equipment
Texas has strict laws pertaining to fencing around private swimming pools, such as those found in backyards, apartment complexes and hotels. For instance, the height of the fence must be at least 4 feet in all sections, and all gates must be self-closing and self-latching. And there can’t be any gaps in the fence wider than 4 inches. When a property owner fails to observe these laws, they are not only liable for any injuries that occur, but also subject to city and state fines.
In addition to accidental drowning, other causes of swimming pool related injuries can include drain accidents, slip and fall accidents and electrocutions caused by faulty pool wiring.
Get Help from a Houston Drowning Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an accidental drowning or had a family member who died or became injured as a result of an accidental drowning that happened due to someone else’s negligence, the law gives you the right to seek damages for your losses, including medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages, etc.
We urge you to reach out to the law offices of Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates without delay to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation with a leading Houston drowning accident attorney. Our experienced Houston drowning accident attorney team is dedicated to holding the negligent party responsible for the pain, suffering and economic costs caused by their reckless, thoughtless acts. We promise we will fight to get you every penny you deserve for your losses.
Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates have been serving the people of Houston and surrounding communities for more than 30 years. Over that time we’ve secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. They know they can depend on our vast skills, experience and dedication to get them the justice they deserve. Our Houston drowning accident attorneys have obtained settlements in a wide range of accident related litigation, including wrongful death, personal injury, premises liability and manufacturer defect cases.