Near-drowning Accidents and Anoxic Brain Injuries

Drowning is the second leading cause of death among children younger than 14. Florida children are at elevated risks, leading the nation in drowning deaths of children four and younger. Pasco County emergency personnel have received at least a dozen drowning calls involving children as of April 2018.

A person who survives near-drowning may nonetheless suffer a lifetime of disabilities caused by anoxic brain injuries. Drowning accidents are usually preventable, and communities across the nation have enacted regulations regarding swimming pools and the use of personal flotation devices to reduce incidents of drowning and near-drowning.

If your child has suffered a permanent injury from a near-drowning incident, talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call Dolman Law Group at (727) 853-6275 or contact us online to discuss your potential claims.

Near-drowning Statistics

What happens when a child nearly drowns? Where does it happen, and how often does it occur? The National SAFE KIDS Campaign compiled revealing statistics about the extent and severity of the problem:

  • Each year about 5,000 children are hospitalized for near-drowning injuries.
  • Near-drowning carries a high risk of death: 15 percent of children who are hospitalized for near-drowning die in the hospital. About 20 percent of survivors of near-drowning suffer severe, permanent neurological disabilities.
  • Swimming pools are 14 times more likely than motor vehicles to cause the death of a child ages four or younger.
  • About 85 percent of drownings of children younger than four occur in a swimming pool. Swimming pools and open water sites are the most common locations of drownings of children ages five to 14. For infants, the most common place to drown is the bathtub, though water buckets used for household chores are also a risk for children younger than one.
  • The longer the submersion, and the longer the time before resuscitation efforts begin, the poorer the outcomes in near-drownings.

What Is Anoxic Brain Injury?

When the brain is deprived of oxygen, neural cells begin to die at a rapid pace. The longer the oxygen deprivation, the more severe the impact to the brain and resulting anoxic brain injury.

Brain damage can begin within 30 seconds of oxygen deprivation. Brain damage almost always occurs if a person is deprived of oxygen for two minutes. Though every brain is different, on average, a brain can only survive for about four minutes without oxygen.

In addition to near-drowning, anoxic brain injury can occur due to stroke, oxygen deprivation during birth, choking, anaphylactic shock due to allergies, drug overdoses, or sudden blows to the windpipe.

The four degrees of anoxic brain injuries include:

  • Diffuse cerebral hypoxia. Mild to moderate injury, causing minimal brain impairment.
  • Focal cerebral ischemia. Oxygen deprivation that only occurs in one area of the brain, usually caused by a stroke.
  • Global cerebral ischemia. Complete deprivation of blood and oxygen to the brain that generally causes catastrophic harm.
  • Cerebral infarction. Brain injury that deprives multiple regions of the brain of oxygen, resulting in serious side effects.

How Do Doctors Treat Anoxic Brain Injuries?

The typical cost of medical treatment for a near-drowning victim can range from $8,000 for an initial emergency room visit to $250,000 a year for long-term care. Total treatment costs for a person who has suffered brain damage from near-drowning can rise to more than $5.5 million.

As explained in an article published by Scientific American, children who experience a near-drowning incident may become minimally conscious or fall into a persistent vegetative state when doctors deem treatment and recovery as difficult, if not impossible.

A recent study involving MRI tests on nearly drowned children indicates that, despite impaired consciousness, the amount of widespread brain damage is not as severe as previously believed. The brain activity of the children in the study indicated a condition more like locked in syndrome—where a person can think and remember but cannot move—than a persistent vegetative state, where brain activity is essentially absent.

The study didn’t consider new treatments, but the conclusions indicate the need for new therapies for victims of near-drowning.

Regulations to Prevent Drowning

Due to the prevalence of drowning and near-drowning incidents, three states and a number of municipalities have enacted regulations requiring secured fencing around swimming pools. In addition, 32 states have passed laws requiring the use of personal flotation devices (PFD) on children who are on boats or near open bodies of water. Recreational boats must carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFDs in good condition, and in the correct size, for every person on board.

Premise Liability Cases of Near-drowning

In June 2018, a North Carolina family agreed to settlements in a lawsuit against the cities of Kinston and Rocky Mount, as well as a local water park. In 2014, the family’s nine-year-old child was found at the bottom of a pool during a field trip sponsored by the Rocky Mount Parks & Recreation Department. The child was resuscitated, but can no longer walk or talk, and needs around-the-clock medical care. The settlement included $2.6 million from Rocky Mount, and $10 million from the city of Kinston, who operated the water park in partnership with the Woodlife Foundation. The foundation settled for an undisclosed amount.

Property owners are required to ensure their property is safe for others. In addition, they are required to warn if a potential for injury arises due to a condition on the property. If your child was the victim of a near-drowning incident due to a dangerous condition on a property, you may file a personal injury or premises liability case.

Call the Dolman Law Group if Negligence Caused a Near-Drowning or Anoxic Brain Injury

The experienced lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you determine if you may have a personal injury or premises liability case. Your initial consultation is free, and if our firm agrees to take your case, we will work for the best possible outcomes for you and your family. Our lawyers are equally skilled in negotiation and litigation, and we are committed to serving our clients who suffer the great financial and personal burden of a tragic accident.

Contact the compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers at Dolman Law Group for a free consultation, online or at (727) 853-6275.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652