Contact Our Premises Liability Lawyers After A Drowning Or Near-Drowning
Did your loved one die by drowning or did they nearly drown at a public or private pool or another setting in or near Chicago? From our law offices in DuPage and Kane counties, we represent clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout the metro area and statewide.
We are dedicated local trial lawyers who have built a strong reputation by successfully taking many injury and fatality cases to trial. With more than 35 combined years of experience and Naperville roots, we are ready to give your case our full attention. Reach out to us now to start a prompt investigation of your or your loved one’s swimming pool or drainage ditch accident.
About Drowning Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), thousands of drownings occur in the United States each year, including Illinois. A large percentage of those who die or come close to dying are under the age of 15. If a person survives, the lack of oxygen from being underwater for so long can cause permanent brain damage and subsequent disabilities. Premises liability, personal injury and/or wrongful death claims may be pursued in some cases.
At Marker & Crannell, our personal injury lawyers in Naperville handle these very sensitive cases. If you or a loved one has suffered, you can pursue financial relief to help with the expenses arising out of this type of accident. Call us today at 630-912-6009 to schedule a free consultation.
Liability And Naperville Drowning Accidents
Critical to any drowning case is proving liability for the injury or wrongful death. Liability can rest with many different people or entities, depending on the facts and circumstances as well as the theory behind the lawsuit. The liable party could be a neighbor who failed to fence their pool or a private entity (such as a waterpark owner) who failed to adequately hire and train employees. It could even be a babysitter agency that provided a babysitter who failed to supervise a young child in the bathtub.
Reach Out To Our Premises Liability Law Office In Naperville
Liability under the premises liability theory often falls in one of three categories, as listed below, that define the type of injured party.
- Visitors. Visitors are people who are invited (directly or indirectly) onto another property (usually a commercial property), and the owner or manager benefits from them. Examples include patrons of grocery stores, malls, hotels, private recreational facilities and so on. In these situations, the property or business owner may be liable for a drowning when there was a failure to inspect, identify and address any hazardous condition, such as those that could cause or lead to drowning.
- Licensees. Licensees are people (perhaps friends, family members or utility workers) who are on another person’s property for their own benefit and not the property owner, manager or renter’s benefit. There is no duty to inspect the property for hazards, but if a hazard is known or should have been known, reasonable steps must be taken to prevent a drowning.
- Trespassers. Trespassers are people on the property without benefit to or authorization by the property owner. As such, property owners typically do not owe a duty of care to trespassers. There are, however, two situations where property or business owners may owe a duty. First, if trespassers are foreseeable, a property owner must not create a situation that poses harm to trespasses without warning them. Second, if the trespasser is a child and the property owner knows or should know that children may be curious about a hazard on the property (such as a pond or an unfenced pool), the property owner must take steps to address the condition.
That legal duty to keep visitors safe extends to public beaches and parks, as well. In these situations where the property is public and not private, procedural hurdles must be overcome before filing a lawsuit against a government entity. However, such a lawsuit is often possible. An experienced trial lawyer with local legal knowledge is an asset in such a case.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is the theory that a person or entity is automatically deemed negligent when they break a law or rule and thereby cause someone else’s injuries. In these cases, the harm must have been foreseeable or be the result of a happenstance that the law was meant to prevent.
At a recreational park, if regulations are not followed and a violation leads to drowning, the violation could be enough to support a negligence per se claim.
Pools, jacuzzis, bathtubs and all other similar and related products can be the subject of a product liability claim if the product had a defect that led to or created a hazardous situation. Three types of defects could be as follows:
- A defect in the design of the product
- A defect in the making of the product
- A defect in advertising where adequate warnings of the possibility of drowning were not provided
If, as a result of the defect, someone died by drowning, a premises liability claim might be a legal remedy for surviving next of kin.
Compensation For Families Of People Who Have Drowned In Illinois
Compensation is dependent on who is to be compensated: a survivor of a near-drowning or the loved ones of someone who did not survive because of drowning. In general, there are two types of compensation: economic and noneconomic.
You can expect to be reimbursed for medical bills (past, present, future), transportation costs, lost wages and loss of income.
Economic damages are relatively straightforward to determine, but you want to keep track of all expenses and costs related to the injury. A law firm on your side can help ensure that you do not miss any such damages that you should receive. If there is a wrongful death claim, you may also recover expenses like funeral and burial costs.
You may recommend non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of enjoyment of life. A spouse can sometimes recover for loss of consortium, specifically referring to the marital relationship. Noneconomic damages are not easily quantifiable, but a skilled trial attorney can put forth compelling arguments on behalf of a plaintiff.
To calculate roughly what noneconomic damages could be worth, you should consider the sum of economic damages, the extent and severity of the injury, the injury’s permanence, and/or the extent and impact of the loved one’s death on surviving family members.
Who Sues If The Victim Dies From Drowning In Illinois?
If a victim dies from drowning, their family may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. Potential family members who could bring the lawsuit include immediate family members, such as:
- The spouse
- A minor child
- A grandchild (when their parent, the deceased grandparent’s child, is also deceased)
- Grandparent (when the deceased child’s parent is also deceased)
An eligible survivor may also be anyone else who is entitled to the property of the drowned victim in accordance with that state’s intestate succession laws.
When a near-drowning victim survives but lives in a vegetative state, a power of attorney may sue on their behalf. A power of attorney, if not already designated in an estate plan, is typically the victim’s spouse or closest relative.
Who Pays The Compensation?
Typically, compensation is paid out through the insurance company. It could be the property insurance of the business or it could be homeowner’s insurance.
Sometimes, insurance companies or insurance adjusters will refuse to settle. If they do, then a personal injury litigator can take the case to trial and make a case before the court that the insurer should pay.
Possible Defenses In A Drowning Lawsuit
Defendants often fight lawsuits, especially when liability for a drowning involves an insurance company. The insurer will try to blame the victim and invoke defenses such as those described below:
- The victim assumed the risk of drowning, meaning the victim knew of the risk and chose to go into the water anyway.
- There was no duty of care, meaning the property owner owed no duty to the victim.
- The victim contributed to the accident. Under contributory negligence laws, the victim will not recover if shown to be at fault by just a small percentage, and under comparative negligence laws, the compensation will be reduced by the percentage the court finds the victim to have been at fault
- The victim waived liability, which happens when the victim signed a liability waiver to participate in certain activities such as swimming, rafting, surfing, boating or jet skiing.
Because insurance companies will hit hard with their defenses, it is important to retain a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer who can properly and adequately address and counter any defense invoked by the defendant.
Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer After A Drowning Accident
At Marker & Crannell, we want to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Drowning accidents can be very traumatic. Death often results. The trauma it causes to loved ones is exponential.
To get on our booking calendar, please contact us today at 630-912-6009 or send an email inquiry to schedule a free consultation with someone who can help you during this difficult time. If you would like to bypass our initial intake process, please consider the option of completing this form prior to our meeting.