Houman Fakhimi


In California, drownings are almost always the result of negligence. No one necessarily means for it to happen, but it is the result of carelessness or recklessness by someone who had a responsibility to know and do better.

Fakhimi & Associates, Trial Attorneys, recognize that in some cases, it’s a victim’s own negligence that is central to causation. However, many other cases result when others around the victim did not use reasonable care when they had a duty to do so.

Drowning isn’t something that “just happens.” There is always something that precipitates it. And while drowning is seen as primarily a summer hazard in most places, it’s a year-round peril in California, where the weather keeps pools in use in all seasons.

Ten people die of drowning every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 20 percent are under the age of 14, and nearly 80 percent are male. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths among children under age 5 in California.

Locations of drowning most often depend on the age group we’re talking about.

  • Infants most often drown in bathtubs
  • Children most often drown in backyard or neighborhood pools
  • Teens and young adults up to age 25 most often drown in natural bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes

Other possible locations include:

  • Hotels
  • Apartment complexes
  • Beaches
  • Day care pools
  • Water parks
  • Child Pools/ Portable Pools
  • Independent/ Assisted Living Facility
  • Natural bodies of water/ boating

Whether a pool owner is liable for injuries or wrongful death due to a drowning will depend on the underlying circumstances of the case.

Even victims of near-drowning may never again be the same. They may suffer damage to their central nervous system. They may have endured a significant loss of oxygen resulting in traumatic brain injury, seizures, learning disabilities and paralysis. They may also suffer numerous other medical problems such as neuromuscular, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.

In these cases, medical bills can be overwhelming. It’s imperative to seek assistance from an experienced lawyer to ensure if compensation is available, you formulate an effective legal strategy to recover it.

Drowning Statistics

The California Department of Public Health reported that in 2013, there were 60 children under age 5 who died of drowning in this state. Of those, 39 children drowned in pools.

California has the third-highest number of child drownings in the nation, just behind Florida and Texas, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The majority of these cases occur at home with a parent or guardian.

From 1999 to 2010, the CDC reports 46,400 people died from unintentional drowning in the U.S., which averages out to nearly 3,900 annually.

The good news is drowning rates decreased significantly among children during that time:

  • 46 percent decrease for infants under age 1
  • 18 percent decrease for children ages 1 to 4
  • 30 percent decrease for children ages 5 to 19

But it still remains one of the top causes of death for these age groups. The death rate for children between 1 and 4 was higher than for any other – 2.93 per 100,000 population.

Death rates for those 85 and older spiked by 21 percent during that time frame, and nearly 10 percent for adults between the ages of 45 and 84.

Understanding Drowning

Drowning does not look like one would think it does. There is no violent thrashing. Victims are often quiet. Even silent.

Someone who is actively drowning is spending so much energy trying to keep their heads above water, they are too tired to shout for help.

If water comes in contact with a person’s vocal cords, they may spasm and physically prevent a victim from shouting. Victims may seem to be bobbing in the water with their head back, with an expression of panic in their eyes.

Liability for Drowning

Determining those responsible for drowning usually requires an extensive, independent investigation by an injury lawyer. We’ll want to know:

  • Who owned the pool/ property
  • Who maintained the pool/ property
  • Whether the pool/ site met all required codes and regulations
  • Whether lifeguards were advertised, present and properly-trained
  • Whether swimmers and/or parents were properly warned of latent dangers
  • Whether water and pool equipment products adhered to applicable safety standards
  • Who was responsible for supervising the children
  • Whether reasonable measures were taken to protect known guests and/or anticipated minor trespassers

If you have questions about whether you may have grounds for a lawsuit after a drowning in California, call our experienced, compassionate legal team today.

Contact the injury lawyers at Fakhimi & Associates, Trial Attorneys, by calling (714) 705-6701 or (909) 859-0280. Serving the Southern California counties of Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside.