Drowning accidents in Nebraska are some of the most unimaginable tragedies that can happen to victims and their families. Importantly, victims of these tragedies, and their families, are not left without recourse. They have the right to sue, which includes filing lawsuits or insurance claims to secure compensation for their immense loss and suffering. In situations where a drowning accident was someone else’s fault, a drowning accident lawyer becomes an indispensable ally. They bring their knowledge and compassion to the table, guiding victims through the process of getting justice and compensation they are owed.

Omaha Drowning Accident Attorneys

The experienced personal injury trial attorneys at Liberty Law Group are dedicated to fighting for maximum compensation on behalf of victims of drowning accidents and their families. This includes the most devastating of cases involving severe injuries and wrongful death. Our attorneys provide comprehensive representation to our clients in order to seek justice and recover compensation for the damages they’ve suffered. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Papillion, and Council Bluffs. Including Douglas County, Lancaster County, Sarpy County, Dodge County, Washington County, Saunders County, and Cass County in Nebraska. We also represent clients in West Iowa including the communities of Pattawattamie County, Harrison County, and Mills County. If you or a loved one has suffered from a drowning accident, please contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case.

Drowning Accidents Information Center

Liberty Law Group provides the following insights into drowning accidents, including unique types of drowning accidents, the requirements to bring a lawsuit, and the role a lawyer plays in advocating for those affected.

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Types of Drowning Accidents

Drowning accidents are most common among children and can result in children being injured or killed as a result. Drowning usually involves a visible struggle. The victim, caught in panic, may flail their arms and legs, trying desperately to keep their head above water. They might intermittently manage to do so but usually cannot call for help or signal effectively to those around them. However, there are other more particular ways to describe certain drowning accidents.

  • Wet Drowning – Wet drowning is what most people think of when they hear “drowning.” In this situation, water gets into the lungs when a person is submerged. The presence of water in the lungs prevents essential oxygen from reaching vital organs. Individuals experience coughing, difficulty breathing, and unconsciousness.
  • Dry Drowning – Dry drowning happens when a person’s airways react to water entering them, usually causing a spasm that makes the airways close up. This can occur even after the person has left the water and initially seems fine. However, later, they may start to have difficulty breathing. It’s a frightening scenario because the symptoms can be delayed, appearing long after the initial water exposure.
  • Secondary Drowning – Secondary drowning shares similarities with dry drowning but occurs due to water that was inhaled and later causes issues. The inhaled water irritates the lungs, leading to a build-up of fluid, known as pulmonary edema, which can make breathing difficult. Symptoms can take hours to develop.
  • Silent Drowning – Silent drowning is a dangerous and often unnoticed type of drowning. It doesn’t have the typical signs of distress like splashing or yelling for help. The victim, often unable to call out or wave for assistance, may quietly slip under the water. This type of drowning can happen swiftly and silently, making it extremely perilous.
  • Passive Drowning – Passive drowning happens when the victim is unconscious or unable to move, perhaps due to injury, exhaustion, or intoxication. They show no signs of struggling and can quickly sink below the surface. This type of drowning is particularly dangerous because it can occur without any obvious signs of distress, and the victim cannot help themselves.
  • Mild Non-Fatal Drowning – In cases of mild non-fatal drowning, the individual experiences a brief period under water but inhales little to no water. They might cough or sputter a bit but generally recover quickly without needing extensive medical intervention.
  • Moderate Non-Fatal Drowning – This involves a longer period of submersion with moderate inhalation of water. The individual might have trouble breathing, cough frequently, and feel discomfort in their chest.
  • Severe Non-Fatal Drowning – Severe non-fatal drowning is characterized by a prolonged period under water with significant water inhalation, leading to critical conditions. The victim might be unconscious, struggle to breathe, or show signs of lung damage and lack of oxygen.

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Causes of Drowning Accidents

  • Lack of Supervision – Drowning can often occur quickly and silently, making constant supervision vital, especially for children. This means actively watching and being within reach when kids are near or in water, not just casually glancing over occasionally. Drownings can happen in moments of distraction, such as answering a phone call or attending to another task. It’s not just large bodies of water like pools or beaches that pose a risk; bathtubs, buckets, and even small ponds can be dangerous for young children.
  • Inability to Swim – Not knowing how to swim is a significant risk factor for drowning. This doesn’t just apply to deep waters but also to shallow pools where one might feel a false sense of security. Non-swimmers, regardless of age, should wear appropriate flotation devices and stay in areas matched to their swimming abilities. Swimming lessons are important, though they are not a complete safeguard against drowning.
  • Panic in Water – Panic can quickly lead to drowning, even for good swimmers. When someone panics, they might forget their swimming skills, struggle inefficiently, and exhaust themselves. This can happen in unexpected situations, like being caught in a current or when swimming in deeper water than anticipated. Learning to stay calm and float or tread water can save lives in these situations.
  • Alcohol and Drug Use – Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, coordination, and the body’s natural ability to regulate temperature, increasing the risk of drowning. This impairment can lead to risky behaviors like swimming in unsafe conditions or overestimating one’s swimming ability.
  • Environmental Conditions – Strong currents, waves, and unexpected changes in weather can quickly turn a safe swimming environment into a dangerous one. Rip currents, in particular, are notorious for pulling swimmers away from shore. Being aware of weather forecasts and understanding how to deal with these conditions (like swimming parallel to the shore to escape a rip current) is important.
  • Trapped Underwater – In pools, swimmers can drown when a limb, hair, or part of a swimsuit gets caught in a drain or suction outlet. These incidents can trap a person underwater, making it difficult or impossible to resurface. Ensuring that pools have compliant drain covers and safety systems is important to prevent these tragedies.
  • Medical Conditions – If someone suffers from a medical condition like epilepsy, heart issues, or others that could lead to a sudden emergency, they are at a higher risk of drowning. These emergencies can incapacitate an individual, making them unable to keep afloat. Swimming with a buddy and informing lifeguards or companions about any medical conditions can be helpful.
  • Fatigue and Exhaustion – Swimming requires energy, and a lack of endurance can lead to exhaustion. When swimmers are tired, their ability to keep themselves safe in water diminishes. It’s important to take breaks, stay hydrated, and avoid swimming alone.
  • Boat Accidents – Boating or engaging in water sports without proper safety gear like life jackets increases the risk of drowning, especially if the boat capsizes or someone falls overboard. Knowing how to swim is helpful, but wearing a life jacket is crucial for safety.
  • Lack of Barriers and Safety Measures – In residential pools, the absence of safety barriers like fencing, pool covers, or alarms can lead to accidental drowning. Children can wander into pool areas and fall in without supervision. Installing proper safety measures and teaching children to stay away from the pool area unless accompanied by an adult can significantly reduce these risks.

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Who Could Be Liable For Drowning Accidents?

  • Property Owners – Property owners who have swimming pools, hot tubs, or ponds on their premises could be held liable for drowning accidents, especially if they fail to provide adequate safety measures. This includes both private homeowners and public entities like hotels or recreational centers. If the owner does not have proper fencing, warning signs, or fails to maintain safe conditions around the water area, they might be considered negligent. In cases where the property owner invited people onto the property or if the pool was accessible to children without proper barriers, the owner’s liability increases.
  • Negligent Supervisors – In situations where an individual, such as a lifeguard, babysitter, or even a parent, was expected to supervise and ensure the safety of others (especially children) in a water setting, they could be held liable for any drowning incidents that occur under their watch. This is particularly true if the supervisor was distracted, not present, or otherwise not fulfilling their duty of care at the time of the accident.
  • Boat Operators and Owners – Boat operators and owners are responsible for the safety of individuals on their vessels. If a drowning accident occurs due to the operator’s negligence, such as operating the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, not providing life jackets, or failing to follow safety regulations, they can be held liable. Additionally, if the boat had safety equipment that was not functioning properly or lacked necessary safety gear, the owner could be responsible.
  • Schools and Childcare Swimming Facilities – Schools and childcare facilities that offer swimming activities are responsible for ensuring the safety of the children in their care. This includes providing qualified supervision, maintaining safe facilities, and enforcing safety rules. If a drowning accident occurs due to a lack of supervision, inadequate safety measures, or poorly maintained equipment, the institution may be liable.
  • Manufacturers of Swimming and Safety Equipment – If a drowning accident is linked to defective swimming or safety equipment, such as faulty pool gates, malfunctioning alarms, or life jackets that fail to work as intended, the manufacturer of these products could be liable. Product liability may come into play if it can be demonstrated that the product was dangerous or defective and this defect contributed to the drowning incident.
  • Local Governments and Municipalities – Local governments and municipalities can be liable for drownings that occur in public waters, such as public pools, especially if the area lacks proper safety measures, warning signs, or adequate lifeguard coverage. However, liability in these cases can be more complex due to government immunity laws that sometimes protect public entities from certain types of lawsuits.

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Drowning Accidents at Waterparks

Waterparks are expected to maintain high safety standards due to the risks associated with water-based activities and the large number of kids they serve. Waterpark operators are responsible for ensuring that all attractions are safe, well-maintained, and properly supervised. This includes having a sufficient number of trained lifeguards, clear safety instructions for each ride, and appropriate safety equipment.

If a drowning occurs due to negligence in any of these areas, such as inadequate staffing, poorly trained lifeguards, malfunctioning equipment, or improperly designed attractions, the waterpark could be held liable. Additionally, if a waterpark fails to warn visitors of potential risks or to enforce safety rules consistently, this could also be grounds for liability.

Popular water parks in Nebraska include:

  • Fun-Plex Waterpark & Rides – Omaha
  • Island Oasis Water Park – Grand Island
  • Eugene T. Mahoney State Park Aquatic Center – Ashland
  • Pawnee Plunge Waterpark – Columbus
  • Dutch Wonderland – Lancaster
  • Mount Hope Estate & Winery – Manheim
  • Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park – Quarryville

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Drowning-Related Wrongful Death Cases

In drowning-related wrongful death cases in Nebraska, the legal process begins with filing a lawsuit by the deceased’s estate representative. This is a formal legal document that accuses a person or entity of causing the drowning through negligence. Following this, the discovery phase starts, where both parties gather evidence, including witness statements and expert testimonies specifically related to the drowning incident. If the case does not settle outside of court, it proceeds to trial. Here, evidence is presented before a judge or jury, who then decides on liability and damages. The trial phase covers how the drowning occurred and who should be held responsible.

Nebraska Law on Drowning-Related Wrongful Death Claims

Under Nebraska Revised Statute §30-810, wrongful death claims, including those from drowning accidents, must be filed within two years of the incident. The claim is filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, acting on behalf of the family. This lawsuit aims to secure financial compensation for the immediate family, reflecting their financial losses and emotional suffering due to the drowning.

Specifics of Damages in Drowning-Related Wrongful Death Claims

In drowning-related wrongful death claims, damages typically include financial losses like the deceased’s potential future earnings and costs related to the death, such as funeral expenses. Non-economic damages are also significant, encompassing the emotional pain and loss of companionship experienced by the family. These damages are calculated to reflect the impact of the loss on the family’s life, including the loss of love, care, and guidance the deceased would have provided.

Specifics of Damages in Survival Actions

Survival actions allow the estate to recover damages the deceased could have claimed if they had survived the drowning. This includes compensation for the pain and suffering the victim experienced between the incident and their death, as well as medical expenses incurred during any attempt at rescue or recovery. These damages are not about the family’s loss but rather the victim’s own suffering and financial losses due to the accident. They are particularly relevant in cases where the victim did not die immediately but endured a period of suffering.

Negligence in Drowning-Related Deaths

To establish negligence in a drowning-related wrongful death case, plaintiffs show that the defendant had a duty to ensure safety and breached this duty, leading to the drowning. This could involve proving that a pool owner failed to provide adequate safety measures or a lifeguard was not attentive. The link between this breach of duty and the drowning incident must be clearly established. For instance, if a child drowns in a pool without proper fencing, the property owner could be held responsible for neglecting safety standards.

In drowning cases where the victim might have contributed to the incident, Nebraska’s contributory negligence laws can affect the outcome. If the victim’s actions partially led to the drowning, such as ignoring safety warnings or engaging in risky behavior near water, this can reduce the damages awarded. The compensation is decreased proportionally to the victim’s fault. For instance, if the victim is found to be 30% responsible for the accident, the total damages awarded to the family would be reduced by 30%. If the victim is 50% or more at fault, the family typically cannot recover damages.

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Insurance Claims for Drowning Accidents

When a drowning accident happens, insurance claims can play an important role in providing financial support to the victims or their families. The type of insurance claim involved depends on where and how the drowning occurred. When dealing with insurance claims after a drowning accident, it’s important to understand the specific coverages and the process of bringing the claim. The process typically involves these key steps:

  • Notification – Inform the insurance company about the accident.
  • Documentation – Gather all necessary documents, such as the incident report, medical records, photographs of the scene, and, in fatal cases, the death certificate.
  • Filing the Claim – Submit a formal claim to the insurance company, including all collected documents and a detailed account of the incident.
  • Assessment – The insurer will review the claim, which might involve an independent investigation and additional information requests.
  • Settlement Offer – After assessment, the insurance company may propose a settlement to cover the losses and damages incurred.
  • Negotiation and Acceptance – If the offer is insufficient, it can be negotiated.

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Role of a Drowning Accidents Lawyer

Legal Guidance and Case Evaluation

A drowning accident lawyer first provides legal guidance. They will evaluate the specifics of the incident to determine if there is a viable case for compensation. This includes analyzing the circumstances of the drowning, such as where and how it happened, and identifying any potential negligence or liability.

Investigation and Evidence Gathering

These lawyers conduct thorough investigations to gather evidence. This may include obtaining accident reports, interviewing witnesses, and working with experts like lifeguards or water safety professionals. They aim to build a strong case by collecting all pertinent information that demonstrates how the accident occurred and who is at fault.

Standing Up to Insurance Companies

Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, especially when seeking fair compensation. A drowning accidents lawyer will negotiate with insurers on behalf of the victim or their family. They ensure that the insurance companies offer a settlement that adequately covers the damages.

Representation in Legal Proceedings

If the case goes to court, the lawyer represents the victim or their family throughout the legal process. They will present the evidence, argue the case, and advocate for the rights and interests of their clients. They understand the traumatic impact of such incidents and aim to handle the legal burdens for victims and their families.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Drowning Accident Lawsuits

What is a drowning accident lawsuit?
A drowning accident lawsuit is a legal case where someone sues another party for causing a drowning through negligence. This lawsuit seeks compensation for the victim or the victim’s family due to the harm or loss suffered from the drowning incident.

Who can file a drowning accident lawsuit?
Typically, the immediate family members of the victim or the victim’s estate representative can file the lawsuit. This includes parents, spouses, or children of the deceased. In cases of non-fatal drownings, the victims can file a lawsuit.

What needs to be proven in a drowning accident lawsuit?
The plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent and that this negligence led to the drowning. This involves showing a duty of care was breached, like a lifeguard not properly supervising or a property owner failing to secure a pool area.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a drowning accident?
In Nebraska, you have two years from the date of the drowning to file a wrongful death lawsuit and four years to file a personal injury or premises liability lawsuit. It’s important to start the legal process as soon as possible, as gathering evidence and building a case takes time.

Can I sue if my child drowned in someone else’s pool?
Yes, if the pool owner failed to provide adequate safety measures or supervision, they could be held liable for negligence. This includes situations like not having a fence around the pool or leaving a child unattended.

What kind of compensation can be recovered in drowning accident lawsuits?
Depending on the type of claim involved, damages can include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future earnings, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more. The specific amount depends on the case details.

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Additional Resources

Nebraska Swimming Pool Regulations – The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy’s (DEE) online information for public swimming pool regulations. DEE provides links to statutes and forms for pool operator certifications. Visit the DEE’s website for more information on public swimming pool compliance.

Nebraska Above Ground Pool Regulations – Information and links to local regulatory bodies on above-ground pool regulations. Fees and permits are discussed as well as safety regulations. Links to various Nebraska county regulations are found on the site.

Types of Drowning – eMedicineHealth goes over the classifications of wet and dry drowning, touches on the risk factors, and explains how to tell when someone’s drowning and what individuals should do if a drowning victim is revived.

Drowning Prevention – The American Red Cross highlights important drowning facts and explains fundamental steps to preventing drowning. Explains how parents, caregivers, and kids can engage in safe water-related activities.

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Hiring a Drowning Accident Attorney in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

At Liberty Law Group, our team of experienced trial attorneys is experienced in resolving drowning accident cases including wrongful death cases. We fight tirelessly to pursue justice on behalf of our clients and work to pursue to best possible outcome and highest possible compensation for the damages suffered. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha in Douglas County, Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, and the surrounding areas of East Nebraska, including the counties of Dodge, Washington, Cass, and Saunders. We also practice in West Iowa civil courts, including the communities of Council Bluffs in Pattawattamie and the surrounding areas of Hamilton and Mills Counties. If you or a loved one has suffered from a drowning accident, please contact our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced drowning accident lawyer.

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