Swimming is a popular year-round pastime, but pools and recreational water areas present a drowning hazard. When a rescued drowning victim survives, the time under the water often causes anoxic brain damage. During a drowning event, a person loses consciousness and stops breathing, depriving the brain of the oxygenated blood it needs. As a result, brain cells die. Anoxic brain damage is inevitable once the brain goes too long without oxygen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites drowning as the cause of ten deaths each day in the United States. Drowning is also a leading cause of death in children ages one to 14. Hospitals treat five times more nonfatal submersion injuries than drowning deaths. More than 50 percent of drowning victims treated in hospital emergency departments require hospital stays.
When a near-drowning event causes anoxic brain damage, the injury can result in permanent disabilities. The medical and rehabilitation costs for anoxic brain damage frequently last a lifetime. Adults who sustain anoxic brain damage may lose the ability to work. A child with these injuries sometimes requires a lifetime of around-the-clock care.
If you’ve experienced an anoxic brain injury contact our Bronx traumatic brain injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.
How Do Anoxic Brain Injuries Occur?
Anoxic brain injuries occur whenever the brain does not receive oxygen for more than four minutes on average. When brain injuries happen in near-drownings, they can occur in every imaginable body of water – from a bathtub to a backyard pool to a lake, river, or ocean.
Backyard pools represent an especially common location for anoxic brain injuries due to near-drowning because they tend to attract children and often lack proper safety equipment and monitoring. Once a child falls into the water and begins to drown, anoxic brain injury can follow in short order.
Signs of Anoxic Brain Damage
As with any injury, each instance of anoxic brain damage is unique to the individual and the circumstances. The symptoms differ depending on the part of the brain affected. Some injured victims recover over time. Others enter permanent vegetative states. When a person has anoxic brain damage, their care, needs, prognosis, and recovery are often unpredictable. In many cases, care and treatment last a lifetime.
When a near-drowning occurs, you should always consider the potential for anoxic brain damage.
Look for these physical, cognitive, or emotional symptoms.
- Loss of consciousness
- Behavioral changes
- Limb numbness or tingling
- Severe headache
- blurred vision
- motor impairment
- Speech difficulties
- Personality changes
- Long-term memory problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Trouble falling asleep
The decline in brain function caused by anoxic brain damage often requires extensive care and rehabilitation. When the injury is serious, there is a greater chance of long-term or permanent disability. In adults, an anoxic brain injury often requires occupational, physical, and mental therapy, daycare, and long-term treatment regimens. An adult may also require training to regain lost abilities. Anoxic brain damage can also slow a child’s physical, emotional, and educational development.
Where Swimming Pool Accidents Happen?
There are many pools where people can suffer accidents and injuries, including:
- Backyards pools of private homes
- Hotel and resort pools
- Water parks
- Public municipal pools
- Country club pools
- Community association pools
- School district pools
- Recreational center pools
Where a swimming pool accident happens dictates whom you can hold responsible for a preventable accident. The process for seeking compensation is different for municipalities, school districts, homeowners, or private corporations, and your personal injury lawyer can determine how you need to proceed in your situation.
Hazards That Can Lead to Swimming Pools Accidents
Many hazards can lead to swimming pool accidents. People might fall into the pool due to dangerous conditions on the pool deck, or swimmers might not be able to stand up or make it to the side.
Some conditions that can lead to these accidents and serious brain damage include:
- Items or tools on the pool deck
- Rough or sharp surfaces in or around the pool
- Broken diving boards
- Not posting depth markers or “no diving” signs
- Not having proper barriers or gates around the pool
Public and private pool owners must take steps to keep visitors safe, whether the pool is residential or commercial. When they do not, people can suffer permanent brain injuries and face a life of disability and loss. The owners should be liable for all of a victim’s losses, and victims should reach out to a personal injury lawyer to discuss a possible premises liability claim.
Premises Liability Claims
Near-drowning events often occur when a property owner doesn’t maintain his property and keep it safe. Under New York law, an owner or a person who controls a property generally must use reasonable care to keep it reasonably safe. This standard of reasonable care differs depending on the circumstances, which may include the age of the victim and their legal status on the property when the anoxic brain injury occurred.
For example, an adult may have difficulty recovering compensation for injuries sustained in a near-drowning incident in a pool where the adult is trespassing. A child injured in the same manner at the same pool may recover compensation because a pool owner should take greater care to protect children from harm.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
When a child sustains an anoxic brain injury through near-drowning in a neighbor’s pool, a parent or the child’s custodian may have a viable claim for damages under the legal doctrine known as an attractive nuisance. This legal principle recognizes that harmful artificial, colorful, or attractive objects can draw children.
An item or condition must meet several criteria for consideration under this doctrine:
- The object or condition is artificial.
- The property owner should have known a child might enter the property.
- The property should have known of the risk of injury or death.
- The child was too young and didn’t recognize the danger.
- The benefit of keeping it and the burden of eliminating it is less than the risk posed to a child.
- The owner didn’t remove the object or condition and did not use reasonable care.
- Anoxic brain damage
When a backyard pool often meets these criteria, it may be an attractive nuisance under New York law.
Potential Defenses to Premises Liability Claims
When a victim sustains anoxic brain injury by nearly drowning in a privately-owned pool, the property owner will likely have a range of potential defenses to a claim for damages.
These may include:
- Open and obvious: Adults, in particular, appreciate the obvious dangers inherent in swimming in a pool without a lifeguard or another safety feature. The obviousness of these dangers can reduce a property owner’s potential liability.
- Damage defense: Sometimes, a defendant may argue that the plaintiff’s injuries did not occur in the defendant’s pool or that the injuries are not as severe as alleged.
Brain Injuries from Boating Accidents
Pools are not the only place where near-drownings occur. Boating or jet ski accidents on lakes, rivers, ponds, or other bodies of water can also result in anoxic brain injuries.
Some causes of watercraft accidents that might lead to near-drowning and personal injury claims include:
- Drunk boat operators
- Distracted boat operators
- Not following the rules of the water
- Inexperienced boat operators
- Failing to yield to other watercraft
- Defective watercraft
Boating accident claims also involve negligence, and an experienced attorney can determine whether you have a case.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Assistance
Did you or your child suffer an anoxic brain injury in a swimming pool accident? You should learn whether you have the right to hold someone else liable for your losses. Losses can include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, and more.
Don’t wait to protect the rights of you or your child. Contact a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer today.