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Near Drowning

As the parent or loved one of a child, watching your little one splash about in the water is incredibly enjoyable. Children can keep themselves occupied for hours playing about in pools, lakes, or even bathtubs. Whenever spending time in the water is an option, many kids will eagerly jump right in.

Keeping your child safe while they’re in the water is essential. Assessing their swimming ability, ensuring they have a life jacket or other floatation device on when needed, and monitoring them as they are in the water help reduce the risk of injury.

Fortunately, most people responsible for monitoring children when they are in or near water practise good water safety. Moreover, drowning prevention education among parents has led to a decline in the number of fatalities among youth. Young people and children under five belong to the two groups least likely to suffer from a fatal drowning.

Unfortunately, fatal drownings among this age group can and do still occur. And even if a child survives a near drowning, they may sustain significant injuries or life long disabilities.

Accidents can happen when children are in or around water, and it can take only seconds for a child to suffer distress in the water and start to be deprived of oxygen. If your child or young loved one has suffered a near drowning, their injuries could be the result of negligence on the part of another person. In these cases, you may be able to make a claim on their behalf for compensation and damages.

How drownings occur.

A person can drown in less than 60 seconds (for children it can be as little as 20 seconds), in only an inch or two of water, and with as little as half a cup of water in their lungs.

Drowning can occur in four ways:

  • Dry drowning - a person who has become unconscious while submerged in water continues to experience the stimulus to breathe. While attempting to breathe, water passes through the pharynx and stimulates the reflex that closes the larynx and epiglottis. In these cases water does not enter the lungs, but the person suffocates as water is diverted to the stomach.
  • Freshwater drowning - if water that enters the lungs and begins to be absorbed into the blood it distorts how normal gases exchanged through respiration affect the pH value of blood. If the changes to the blood’s pH level become significant, a person can go into cardiac arrest.
  • Salt water drowning - unlike freshwater, when a person aspirates salt water, water is drawn out of the bloodstream causing a circulation to slow until the point of cardiac arrest.
  • Secondary drowning - occurs after a person who is drowning is successfully resuscitated and appears to have recovered from the immediate experience. In these cases, the processes involved in freshwater or saltwater drowning occur in a more drawn out fashion that could lead to death hours or even days following the trauma.

What damage can be done if a child experiences a near drowning?

Beyond the processes described as secondary drowning, if a child is successfully revived and resuscitated from a near drowning, they may have still suffered significant injury.

Common initial signs of a near drowning include cold or bluish skin, cough or shortness of breath, chest pain, abdominal swelling or vomiting. Subsequently a near-drowned person is at risk of developing pneumonia and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome. If the near drowning has led to a period where the brain has experienced reduced oxygen levels (hypoxia) or the complete absence of oxygen, a child may suffer varying levels of brain damage causing physical or cognitive disabilities. Significant brain injury from a near drowning may lead to the child being left with severe life altering brain damage.

Where drownings occur and how negligence may cause injury.

Children are most likely to suffer a drowning or near-drowning in home swimming pools. However, drownings are also common in natural waters such as lakes, rivers, or oceans. Drowning can occur while the child is swimming, if they unexpectedly begin to breathe in water while at play, if they fall into the water from a pool deck, vessel or the shore, or if they suffer a medical condition that causes them to lose consciousness.

In some cases, accidental drownings or near-drownings could not have otherwise been prevented. However, other times negligence on the part of the people responsible for the property or facility where the near-drowning occurs or negligence on the part of a person responsible for supervising your child may cause or contribute to the harm they suffered.

Some examples of negligence that may cause harm include:

  • If the owner of a property with a pool has not fenced it in to ensure that children who are not supposed to be using the pool cannot access it.
  • A person responsible for monitoring a child or children in an area where they are in water or could go into water becomes distracted or neglects their duty to supervise.
  • A person responsible for monitoring a child who is swimming or in water has not taken reasonable steps to determine the child’s swimming ability or need of personal floatation devices while in the water.
  • A person taking a child or children aboard a watercraft is neglectful in ensuring they are wearing life jackets, or that the life jackets are properly sized and secured.
  • A person who has been drinking alcohol or using substances that impair their judgment or ability to react promptly to a dangerous situation causes harm through inattentiveness or other actions such as causing a boating accident where a child is thrown into the water.
  • The organizer of a field trip or excursion with children puts them in an unsafe environment or without adequate supervision.
  • A person operating a watercraft, in poor repair, causes an accident.
  • In the event that a child experiences a near-drowning, the person responsible for the child fails to take steps to ensure the child has been examined by a first responder or other medical practitioner in order to determine if any follow up care is necessary.

When your child is injured.

Once the initial shock of witnessing or learning of a near-drowning wears off, you may begin to ask questions of how it could have happened and whether it could be avoided - especially if your child has sustained serious, life-altering injuries.

The expense of caring for a severely injured or disabled child and the incalculable loss of their enjoyment of life are damages that you and your child should not have to bear on your own if someone’s negligence has caused or contributed this harm.

Gluckstein’s skillful and experienced pediatric injury lawyers are available to speak with you about your child's near- drowning injuries. When you call a member of our team for your free initial consultation, we will take the time to listen to your story with empathy, clearly explain your various options, and answer your questions to help you make an informed decision about what to do. If, after a preliminary investigation, we believe we can help you access compensation and damages for your loved one’s injuries, we will offer to be your legal advocate and representative.

A commitment to full-circle client care.

Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers believe that a client’s ability to pay out of pocket for legal expenses should never be a barrier to accessing justice. That’s why we cover all costs associated with the case as we seek a resolution. We only accept payment if we negotiate an acceptable settlement or win an award from the court.

While achieving compensation for their losses is very important to personal injury clients, we know it is not the only thing that matters to them. And, at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, our clients matter to us well beyond the time we spend representing them in legal proceedings. We care about you as people who have just experienced one of the most tragic events in their lives.

Our client liaisons, some of whom have experienced serious personal injuries among their own loved ones, provide a compassionate ear to listen to your hopes and worries as you go through the range of emotions that come with a significant loss. We offer to connect you with resources that could assist in your recovery.

At a time when you most need someone to count on for help and support, trust the pediatric injuries team at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers. We will be on your side and at your side as you seek what you and your loved ones deserve for the harm done to you.

Ontario Near Drowning Lawyers.



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