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Hamilton Drowning Accident Lawyers

Serving Families of Drowning Victims all over Ontario

Swimming Pool & Drowning Accident Lawyers Serving Ontario

A child drowning or near-drowning accident is a horribly traumatic and devastating time for a family.  More often than not, drownings and near drowning incidents are almost always preventable. Property owners have an affirmative duty to protect visitors against foreseeable dangers by inspecting and maintaining pool fences, gates and locks in good working order to prevent unauthorized or unsupervised use of hotel pools, residential pools and spas.

Children’s drowning accidents may be caused by several things, including the negligence of individuals entrusted with a child’s care or the negligence of owners of establishments in which bodies of waters are located, or defects in pools in which children swim.

People that own pools have a duty to protect children – their own and of others – by inspecting and maintaining pool fences, gates and locks in good working order to prevent unauthorized or unsupervised use of pools. This means not only locking doors and patio doors, gates and any access to a pool but also keeping them in a state of good and reasonable repair. Public pool operators also need to abide by the same standard. They must, in addition, inspect and properly maintain pool or hot tub drain covers,  hire qualified life guards, post warning signs, as well as provide appropriate life saving equipment.

If you have lost a loved one in a drowning accident in a public facility, like municipal pool or provincial beach; a commercial facility, like large waterslide type attraction, a hotel pool, health club pools, spas or a private swimming pool – call our Hamilton drowning accident lawyers and learn your legal rights today. You may be entitled to compensation.

Hotel and Aquatic Park Drowning Dangers

Recent trends in the Canadian aquatic industry have included a move away from deeper water. Recreation departments in many provinces are renovating swimming pools and eliminating water in excess of four feet deep. Similarly, hotels, public pools and resort waterparks are being built with a focus on shallow water. Our Ontario drowning accident lawyers would suggest that this increases, rather than lessens, the chance of injury.

Diving into water that is less than four feet deep is difficult to accomplish safely. Impact with the bottom or side of a swimming pool can result in trauma to the head and spine. Death, quadriplegia, and paraplegia can result.

Shallow water can also lead to a false sense of security and less attention focused on kids who may panic and ingest water or be unable to upright themselves once they become prone in a pool. Even adults may find entry into a shallow body of water challenging if it comes at the end of a slide. Nonswimmers struggle with balance versus buoyancy and many adults have needed to be rescued from four-feet deep swimming pools when they couldn’t get their legs underneath them and their heads above water.

Wave Pools as a Drowning hazard

Wave pools are a hazard, but remain a big draw for kids. Water depth in wave pools is not overly constant constant. One moment people are standing in a two-foot deep section of the pool. The next moment, a wave has dumped over their heads and driven them into other patrons or into the pavement.

Body Surfing as a Drowning Hazard

Body surfing is a big attraction at resort wave pools, and some wave riders flaunt their abrasions like badges of honor. Waves that are strong enough to carry a body surfer forward forty feet are strong enough to cause debilitating injuries when patrons slam into each other. Contusions, concussions, and compound fractures can be expected when unprepared people collide.

Employee and Lifeguard Liability

Employees at resort waterparks face challenges created by conflicting directives. Lifeguards are tasked with the double duty of protecting and pleasing patrons. Giving away free room nights to unhappy hotel guests flies in the face of the increased revenue that resort waterparks are supposed to produce.  Lifeguards who are used to relying on their whistles to grab the attention of the crowd and single out rule breakers at municipal pools may be restricted in the use of this tool at resort waterparks. Likewise the facility may serve alcohol to guests at poolside increasing the chance of unruly and dangerous behavior.

The Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act imposes duties on home owners and owners of pools and hot tubs and other bodies of water to take reasonable care to protect children (and all visitors) and ensure that precautions are taken to ensure that their visitors are reasonably safe and protected.  The duty is an affirmative one, which, in drowning cases, will no doubt mean that a person in charge of a pool or other bodies of water should have procedural safeguards to protect their visitors (and unwanted visitors) from foreseeable harm. If a homeowner is negligent in keeping the pool area safe and inaccessible, or he fails to supervise children in his pool, then he could be liable for injuries suffered in or around the pool.

In addition, owners of swimming pools or hot tubs on private property, including apartment complexes and condominium associations are likewise required to protect against foreseeable risks by taking appropriate safety measures to prevent accidental child drownings and may be held liable for failing to do so by maintaining:

  • Inadequate fencing
  • Broken or unsecured gate latches
  • Inadequate warning signs
  • Inadequate supervision of children
  • Proper repair of defective drains, pumps and other components
  • Allowing people diving into shallow water
  • Unmarked or poorly marked pool depth
  • Failure to cover the swimming poo
  • Improper safety warnings
  • Diving board accidents
  • Water slide accidents


Drowning Accidents: How long can your Brain go Without Oxygen?

Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen to function properly, otherwise the result is usually brain damage or death. The lack of oxygen to the brain can happen when someone is drowning, choking, suffocating or in cardiac arrest. In our practice we have often seen the concept of brain hypoxia happen when a victim dives into shallow water and renders themselves unconscious or in drowning cases, particularly involving children, even in very shallow water. 

Drownings can happen in many places including hotel pools, cottage lakes, public pools or water-parks and water drainage ditches. Pool drains are one of the most common causes of drowning accidents. Most drowning victims who experience oxygen deprivation unfortunately sustain permanent neurological and psychological damage.

The brain consumes a significant amount of energy compared to its weight and size. Although the brain contains only 2% of body mass, it requires 20% of oxygen.  In the event of oxygen deprivation, it slowly starts losing its power to function and the cells of the brain start dying. This situation damages the brain and causes brain injuries.

There are two major types of such injuries – Anoxic and hypoxic brain injury.  Anoxic is most often the result of cardiac arrest, near drowning, strangulation, carbon monoxide, smoke inhalation, opiate drug overdose or head trauma. Cardiac arrest is the most common cause of anoxic brain injury.  If the oxygen supply is interrupted, consciousness will be lost within 15 seconds while brain cells will slowly start to die after 4 to 5 minutes of oxygen deprivation.

Hypoxic Brain Injuries  – hypoxic brain injury is a form of hypoxia or oxygen deficiency that affects the brain. It happens when the brain does not receive enough oxygen even though blood is still flowing. Conversly, when oxygen supply is totally cut off, it is called brain anoxia.  Brain hypoxia is an absolute medical emergency. Your brain requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly; and

Anoxic Brain Injuries  – anoxic brain injuries are caused by a complete lack of oxygen to the brain, which results in the death of brain cells after approximately four to five minutes after oxygen supply disappears.

Causes of Brain Oxygen Deprivation

There are certain health conditions and incidents that disturb the supply of oxygen to the brain. These situations could take place at your work due to toxic work environment.  It could also occur because of someone’s irresponsible behaviour on the road or at public place.  Some of them are cardiac attack, heart stroke and unusual heartbeat which could impede the path of oxygen from heart to brain. There are many other causes listed below that could lead the situation of oxygen deprivation:

– Chocking – breathing in fumes or munching or drinking too quickly;
– Hypotension – when you have way too low blood pressure;
– Anesthesia related problems during surgical treatment
Drowning – you are way too long under the water and loose the track of breathing;
– Carbon monoxide poisoning – blocks the bloodstream;
– Fire in the building – tons of smoke makes it difficult to breathe;
– Strangulation – the neck is compressed and does not allow the oxygen flow;
– Complications from anesthesia;
– trauma that causes blood loss;
– Asthma attack – medical condition makes it hard to breathe; or
– Tracking or traveling – height above the sea level typically more than 8000 ft.

Brain Oxygen Deprivation: How Long is Too Long

As noted above – hypoxic refers to the partial lack of oxygen to the brain, while anoxic means a total lack of oxygen to the brain.  When there is lack of oxygen to the brain, there is not one place that lacks oxygen, but everywhere that blood normally flows.  One thing is for sure – if the brain is lacking oxygen, every second counts.

– Lack of consciousness happens during 30 seconds to 3 minutes;
– After about 1 minute survival is possible but damage is possible;
– After 3 minutes, the neurons start suffering and serious brain damage can occur;
– Mark of 5 minutes is the highest time for the brain to hold off;
– After about 5 to 10 minutes of lack of oxygen, you are likely to develop quite serious and possibly irreversible brain damage;
– Even if the brain is alive at the mark of 10 minutes, it slips into Coma and damage could not be recovered; and
– At the mark of 15 minutes, recovery is virtually impossible.

These statistics might not be the same for everyone. Nevertheless, it is imperative to find out whether your brain is affected.

Symptoms of Brain Oxygen Deprivation

Mild symptoms of oxygen deprivation to the brain can include memory loss and problems with motor function, such as movement. Severe cases of oxygen deprivation can result in seizures and brain death. Other symptoms of brain hypoxia or low oxygen levels in the brain can include:

– Seizures – a sudden and hysterical electrical disruption in the brain;
– Fluctuations in heart rate;
– Delusion or lack of ability to make judgement or awareness of the surrounding;
– Body parts are becoming blue due to lack of blood circulation;
– Not able to follow direction or perform a complex task:
– Hands or feet are going sturdy and not able to move as lack of oxygen circulation;
– Decreased blood circulation in the hands or feet;
– Not able to think clearly, seeing multiple things and spots; or
– Fainting and blackout;
– Unable to speak clearly;
– Personality change and the mood swings are frequent;
– Difficulty in learning new information, remembering and recalling names and figures;
– Not able to coordinate motor skills like writing and walking;
– Unable to acknowledge where exactly they have pain in the body;
– Impulsive behaviour comes out as aggression and inappropriate sexual behaviour and
– Rapid aging of brain, depression, or anxiety.

Hypoxia Treatment

The lack of oxygen to the brain is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical intervention and treatment, however projecting the recovery and care for anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries is difficult because each case is unique.  It is imperative that oxygen supply to the brain resumes without delay in order to prevent serious complications or brain death.

The most important thing without a doubt is to get more oxygen into your body. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the hypoxia – however basic life support is often necessary to reduce damage to the brain.  Establishing an adequate airway as soon as possible  in order to saturate the blood with oxygen is vital for the cardiovascular system.  The respiratory and cardiovascular systems must be supported properly.

Experienced Lawyers for Drowning Cases in Ontario

A child that suffers a non-fatal submersion injury that results in a brain injury may require lifelong critical care. It is imperative that a timely filing of a case follows the near-death accident to ensure that there will be available funds for the future recovery and rehabilitation of the pool accident victim. Fault and liability issues in swimming pool accident cases can be complex and challenging.

If you have lost a loved in in a pool drowning accident, our Hamilton Lawyers serving Ontario will carefully investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death to determine the level of negligence on the part of the property owner or another party caused the accident. Our Hamilton lawyers are dedicated to helping you obtain justice and compensation for the losses you have suffered. Please call us at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.  Consultations are free and we will never ask you for money upfront.

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