Open Accessibility Menu

Brain Injury Could Result From Near-Fatal Drowning Accident

Jason Reese


  • Last year, the U.S. saw an average of 10 people drown each day. In Indiana, 114 people died of drowning last year.
  • More than 50 percent of drowning victims who were treated in emergency rooms required transfer to another facility for extended care.
  • Summer break is a time when Indiana health officials are urging swimmers to use caution and pool owners are reminded of their liability to keep pool property safe, especially when it comes to drain entrapment risks.
  • If the brain is deprived of oxygen by submersion in the water for more than 4-6 minutes, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other bodily harm is possible. Drowning victims may require life-long care.

Drowning Victims Deprived of Oxygen May Live with Traumatic Brain Injury

If your home, neighbor, or apartment complex has a swimming pool open this summer or your family is headed to a water park or community pool, be sure that safety features are in place, such as locking gates and alarms. Also, be sure to double check that the pool and drains are well maintained and known issues are addressed before using. Organs such as lungs and kidneys but mostly the brain can be injured by drowning accidents, leaving victims and their families to incur a great burden financially, emotionally, and physically.

Because we have witnessed these tragedies through the families we represent, the team at Wagner Reese wants to share these important pool safety tips from Pool Safely, a campaign by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which provides awesome information to reduce drownings, non-fatal submersions and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. Parents, caregivers, pool owners and operators should review and share the following safety tips:

  • Stay close, be alert, always be watching.
  • Always watch children and never leave them unattended.
  • Avoid swimming alone.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
  • Have a charged phone close by at all times but don’t allow cellphones or other technology to distract your taking care of swimmers.
  • If someone is missing, especially a child, check the pool first.
  • Share water safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.
  • Even if a lifeguard is present, parents and caregivers should still take the responsibility of watching children swim and play in or near the water.
  • Families should learn to swim and practice water safety skills.
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency and know how to perform CPR on children and adults.

Pool Owners Have Duty to Provide Safe Environments Against Drain Entrapment

Since it is the owner’s duty to provide a safe environment for both children (and adults) who are using their pool or even for people who live in the neighborhood or surrounding area, pool owners are responsible and can be held liable if a swimming accident or drowning incident occurs. If the owner has an unsafe swimming pool or pool area and you or your child is injured because of their safety negligence, you may be able to sue for compensation to help pay for the costs of damages. One of the most common fails a pool owner has in relation to drownings is drain entrapment. Because of this, avoid playing or swimming near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools and don’t enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken or missing drain cover. And, if you see a broken or loose drain cover, immediately notify the pool manager or owner. Here is a list of entrapment events caused by pool drains and spa suctions:

  • Hair entanglement: hair can get caught in a faulty drain cover
  • Limbs: arms, legs and fingers can become lodged in a suction opening
  • Body: any body part that can cover a drain can be held down by suction
  • Evisceration: sitting on a faulty drain can cause injuries or disembowelment
  • Mechanical: jewelry or bathing suits can become entangled in a faulty drain cover

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) says there are several ways pool owners and operators can prevent entrapment and ensure drain and spa safety.

  • If your pool or spa has a missing, broken, or just old drain cover, have it replaced with one that is up-to-date and compliant with test standards.
  • Never run your pump at higher speeds than the recommended maximum. High water velocity can contribute to suction entrapment.
  • Make sure the emergency shut-off switch is clearly marked by a permanent sign, easily visible in the pool or spa area, so that anyone can find and use it within seconds.
  • Don’t let anyone swim or play near drains and suction fittings. It’s fun to feel the suction at a main drain—but it’s also potentially fatal.

When in doubt, owners should have their pool or spa inspected by a licensed industry professional. This expert can tell if there’s anything else required to ensure the pool and grounds are safe for all to enjoy.

Children Are at Greatest Risk

When children are swimming and playing in or near the water, supervision is critical! Parents should avoid engaging in any distracting and attention draining activities while supervising children swimming or playing in water, like using their cell phones or drinking alcohol. Adults should be within an arm’s reach in the water at all times and children should also never be left alone in the vicinity of pools or spas. Make sure kids learn to swim and that there is properly fenced pools and self-locking gates in your neighborhood. Always watch kids in and around the water, stay away from drains and learn life-saving skills like CPR. For pool owners, rescue equipment should always be kept nearby, making sure it does not conduct electricity.

Find Out Who Is Liable for a Drowning Accident

Thousands of drowning accidents and deaths occur each year, especially in the summer. Sometimes the injuries or deaths are true accidents, but in many cases pool owners have not taken the necessary precautionary steps to ensure the pool is maintained and that safety measures are in place to reduce drowning risks. Swimming injuries and even drownings are unfortunately common, but this doesn’t mean that they are easy cases to bring to court and legal support is often required for justice to be served.

If you or your child is injured or drowns in a pool, Wagner Reese can help and make the environment safer for other swimmers. Call us today for a no-cost, risk-free consultation: (888) 204-8440. You can also share additional details with us by submitting our online form.


Request Your Free Case Evaluation

Fill out the form below to get started or give us a call at (888) 204-8440 to speak with our legal team directly.

  • Please enter your First Name.
  • Please enter your Last Name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.

Our Locations

  • Indianapolis Office: 201 N. Illinois St.,
    16th Floor - South Tower

    Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • Carmel Office: 11939 N. Meridian St.
    Carmel, IN 46032
  • Evansville Office: 815 John St. Suite 110
    Evansville, IN 47713
  • Fort Wayne Office: 3201 Stellhorn Rd
    Fort Wayne, IN 46815
  • Champaign Office: 701 Devonshire Dr., Suite C17
    Champaign, IL 61820