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When might a drowning be considered wrongful death?

No one anticipates losing a family member to an accidental drowning. Even for families who live near bodies of water, engage in water activities or have jobs involving waterways, a drowning comes as a tragic shock. Drowning deaths are nearly always accidental, but that does not necessarily mean that the deceased is at fault. Some drownings are the result of another party's negligent or reckless actions. In these cases, the family of the decedent may seek legal recourse through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Swimming pools or public beaches

If someone drowns at a pool or waterway, it is possible that the party responsible for monitoring the area is liable. Most states and municipalities have regulations regarding the supervision of pools and beaches. If the operator of the pool or beach neglected to fulfill their duty, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Some examples of this include:

  • Not having enough lifeguards present
  • Inadequately training the lifeguards
  • Lifeguards who were neglecting their duties or acting recklessly

There is also a federal law stipulating that the operators of pools, spas and hot tubs must have a certain type of drain cover in place. This is because of several past drowning deaths that were caused by the suction from underwater drains. If a pool manufacturer or the owner of a pool did not use the proper drain cover, they could be liable for the drowning.

Water activities

Water activities like boating, water skiing and jet skiing can sometimes end in drowning. In some instances, another party involved in the activity could have contributed to the death. This may have happened if:

  • The equipment was faulty or deficient
  • Someone was operating the equipment improperly
  • Another person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • One or more people were acting recklessly--for example, driving a boat recklessly or engaging in dangerous horseplay

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