Although swimming is a great way to cool off during the summer, it can also be dangerous. Every year, thousands of people drown while swimming in pools, lakes, and oceans. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 not related to birth defects. Additionally, for people who are 15 years or oder, more than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings occur in natural waters like rivers, lakes, or oceans.
The Kryder Law Group represents families of drowning victims in Chicago and communities surrounding Lake Michigan. We have seen firsthand the devastation that a drowning or near drowning incident can cause to a family, and we are committed to getting justice for our clients.
If you have lost a loved one in a drowning accident, or if your loved one has suffered injuries in a drowning, we can help. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
An additional 9,000 victims are hospitalized in non-fatal submersion injuries. These injuries can result in permanent brain damage.
23% of child drownings happen in a swimming pool accident during a family gathering.
Most boating fatalities are caused by drowning.
Many of these deaths are preventable with simple safety precautions such as warning signs, barriers, and following boating safety rules.
Who is responsible if my loved one drowned in a swimming pool?
You can generally hold any individual responsible if they negligently caused a drowning death. The most common defendants in swimming pool accident cases are:
Pool owners: Pool owners such as the City of Chicago, your local gym, or your landlord are responsible for maintaining pool safety and posting adequate pool warnings to prevent swimming pool accidents.
Pool managers: Pool owners might hire management to maintain their swimming pools. This is common in large apartment buildings where pools are part of the building amenities.
Pool maintenance and lifeguards: Owners might also hire maintenance crews or lifeguards to watch over swimmers. If they negligently fail to prevent unintentional injury/death, they may be held liable.
Pool designers: If a pool was dangerously designed with inadequate warnings (such as “no diving” warnings), the pool designer can be held liable in some circumstances.
What if they signed a waiver to use the pool?
Pool owners often use waivers to try to avoid responsibility for drowning or other injuries that happen on their property. While courts do find these waivers enforceable if properly written, they are usually hesitant to do so and will not enforce overly broad or ambiguous waivers. One court opinion found that waivers must be “clear, explicit, and concise,” which usually means it must state the following:
The type of harm the signer is waiving
The type of risks and activities involved
The individual or company the signer is agreeing to waiver liability against
Contact The Kryder Law Group for a free case evaluation to discuss the details of your case. Not all drownings are the same and an experienced personal injury lawyer can help to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Who is responsible if my loved one drowned in Lake Michigan or another body of water?
Similar to pools, anybody who negligently causes a drowning death or injury on Lake Michigan or other body of water can be held responsible.
This might include:
Boat owners: Boat owners are required to maintain safety and rescue devices (including life jackets) on their boats and to use competent boat operators, captains, and crew members.
Boat operators: captains are required to safely operate all boats.
City of Chicago: The City of Chicago typically hires life guards to oversee safety on public beaches and issues swimming bans based on the weather and the water conditions. If your loved one drowned on a public beach, you may be able to hold the City of Chicago accountable. This usually does not apply to areas where swimming is illegal or in areas not under the control of the City of Chicago.
Beachfront property owners: owners of breakwalls and harbors are required to maintain adequate lighting to warn boaters of its presence to boaters at night. You can recover against these owners for any injuries due to broken or burned out lights and beacons.
Liquor establishment: If the boat captain or driver was over-served alcohol at a bar or restaurant, you may be entitled to statutory damages against it under the Illinois Dram Shop Act.
Do I have a case?
To prove your drowning claim, you must show that: 1) the defendants owed your loved one a duty of care, 2) the defendants breached that duty, and 3) the defendants’ breach caused you damages.
If the defendant was working in the scope of their employment at the time of the accidents (lifeguards, maintenance, ship crews, and boat captains), you may also be able to hold their employer liable under the legal doctrine respondeat superior.
Oftentimes multiple defendants may be to blame, in which case a jury will allocate damages based on the amount of fault each defendant is responsible for.
What are some common causes of drowning accidents?
Drowning accidents are usually preventable. Some examples of actionable drowning boat accidents include:
Alcohol use by boat operators and ship captains
Distracted or inattentive operators and captains
Dangerous ship deck conditions
Failure to supply life jackets, life buoys, and other rescue devices
Broken or malfunctioning breakwall lights and lighthouses
Actionable claims against pool owners and waterfront property owners include:
Failure to maintain pool premises
Broken gates or fences to keep children out
Broken ladders, diving boards, and slides
Inattentive or missing life guards
Inadequate or confusing warnings (such as “no swimming” or “no diving” signs)
What can I recover in a drowning death?
Your case’s value depends on the damages at issue, the likelihood that a jury will find the defendants liable, and whether the defendants have sufficient assets (such as an insurance policy or a high net worth corporation).
For drowning deaths, plaintiffs are entitled to simultaneously file two separate causes of action: one for “wrongful death” and one for “survival.” Spouses may also file a claim for loss of consortium.
Wrongful Death and Loss of Consortium Damages
For wrongful death and loss of consortium claims, jurors may award damages for:
Lost companionship and affection
Grief and sorrow
Damages for Survival Claims
For survival claims, the plaintiff can recover any damages their loved one could have recovered had they survived their accident. Jurors may award damages for:
Conscious pain and suffering
Loss of a normal life
Lost wages, including future lost wages and anticipated social security payments
Contact The Kryder Law Group today to discuss the details of your case and find out what your case may be worth. There is no amount of money that can bring back your loved one, but a monetary recovery may help you and your family move on with your lives. And, if the tragedy was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to prevent future drownings from happening.
What if I suffered a drowning accident but survived?
Survivors of drowning accidents oftentimes suffer catastrophic injuries such as brain death that affects them and their families forever. If you were the survivor of a wrongful drowning accident, you are entitled to damages for:
Past and future pain and suffering
Past and future loss of a normal life
Past and future medical expenses and caretaking costs
Scarring and disfigurement including surgical scarring and use of a wheelchair or other medical device assistance
Past and future lost wages
When a person survives a drowning accident they may be left with all kinds of damages from when receive emergency department care through well past their recovery. Contact The Kryder Law Group’s experienced attorneys today so they can help you recover those damages.
How can an attorney help?
Drowning accidents are usually fatal, and even nonfatal accidents can change the victim’s and their family’s life forever.
If you lost a loved one in a drowning accident, or if you are the survivor of a drowning accident, you need an experienced wrongful death and personal injury attorney on your side.
The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group represent families of people who drowned in Chicago and communities throughout Illinois. We understand the devastation that a drowning accident can cause, and we will fight to get you the compensation that you and your family deserve.
The Kryder Law Group represents families of victims who drowned in:
The Chicago River
Falls from piers, break walls, and other structures
Drownings at public beaches
Drownings at public pools
Drownings in private pools
Spa and hot tub drownings
If you have lost a loved one in a drowning accident, or if you have been the victim of a drowning accident, contact The Kryder Law Group today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We will review your case and help you understand your legal options. And, because we work on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us anything unless we recover compensation for you.