Many people enjoy taking to the water to cool down in Arizona’s hot climate, but it’s crucial to recognize the danger of drowning accidents. Drowning is often fatal, but some people survive to endure serious medical complications due to oxygen deprivation. Whenever someone suffers a drowning injury or dies of drowning, it’s vital for the surviving family to know their legal options if another person or party is liable for the accident.
Proving Fault in Drowning Accident Cases
Most drowning accident lawsuits will fall under the purview of personal injury law, but if a drowning accident victim dies, the surviving family members will need to pursue a wrongful death claim to secure compensation from the liable party. In either scenario, the plaintiff (the party filing the lawsuit) must prove that the defendant (the target of the lawsuit) was negligent and that this negligence directly resulted in the damages listed in the case.
Proving negligence requires showing the court three basic facts:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act with reasonable care.
- The defendant breached this duty of care in some way.
- The defendant’s breach of duty resulted in actual harm to the plaintiff.
If a plaintiff can prove these facts in court, he or she can secure compensation for the damages caused by the defendant’s negligent actions. Typically, damages in personal injury cases include:
- Medical expenses, including emergency transportation fees, hospital bills, surgery fees, the costs of necessary ongoing treatments, and any other expenses related to treating the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Pain and suffering. Near-fatal drowning incidents can be extremely traumatic for victims, and they can secure compensation for the physical pain and mental anguish caused by the defendant’s actions.
- Lost income. A drowning injury may cause the victim to miss work for an extended time, and he or she may sue for the wages he or she would have reasonably expected to earn in that time. If a drowning injury prevents the victim from ever resuming work, he or she can sue for the wages that were reasonably expected to be earned in the future.
- Punitive damages. If a defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional, the judge may award punitive damages to punish the defendant further and discourage similar acts in the future.
Wrongful Death Claims for Drowning Accidents
All of the above damages are recoverable in wrongful death claims as well, but plaintiffs in such claims can also secure additional types of compensation. The surviving loved ones of a drowning accident victim can secure compensation for the loss of companionship, consortium, guidance, and affection provided by the deceased. Additionally, the surviving loved ones can sue for the financial security the deceased individual provided, funeral and burial expenses, and all of the above listed damages pertaining to the deceased person’s drowning injury.
Arizona law states that a deceased individuals’ parent, spouse, or adult child may file a wrongful death claim. If no such kin exist, a representative of the deceased individual’s estate may file the claim, and the court will appoint a representative if the deceased did not specify a particular person in his or her estate. The statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims in Arizona is two years starting on the date of the death.
If you or a loved one has suffered a drowning accident in the Scottsdale area or anywhere else in Arizona, you need the best possible legal representation to secure the compensation you need to recover. Whether you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the attorneys at Bode & Collins can help.
Reach out to our team and schedule a consultation so we can get to know you and your situation. If we think a lawsuit is a viable option, we’ll let you know what to expect and how we can help.