Lawyers Who Handle Drowning Cases

Georgia Swimming Pool and Lake Drowning Cases
In most cases drownings and injuries around pools or lakes in Georgia involve the concept of premises liability or negligent lifeguarding. This article will examine some of the issues present in these types of cases.

Negligent Lifeguarding

These are by far the strongest cases to present. There are strict procedures that lifeguards must follow and without negligence, it is rare that a child drowns in a pool watched by a lifeguard in Georgia. If a child drowns in Georgia while under the supervision of a lifeguard, there is usually a strong case against the entity behind the lifeguard, if they are private.

City Pools and Pools Provided to the Public

In cases involving City pools, unless the City has insurance or there are private lifeguarding entities that can be sued, the claim is likely barred.

"The operation of public...swimming facilities, primarily for public benefit rather than for revenue... is a governmental function, so that the city is shielded from negligence claims by the doctrine of governmental immunity."  Scott v. Millen 153 Ga. App. 231 (1980) 

However, that sovereign immunity can be waived through the purchase of insurance, usually through GIRMA (Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency). Note also OCGA § 33-24-51 (purchase of insurance for motor vehicles)

Be aware that the Georgia Recreational Property Act can act as a bar to any claim for injury at a City pool. Under O.G.C.A. § 51-3-21(3),  an owner  “who  invites or permits without charge any person to use the property for recreational purposes" is immune from suit.

Drowning Cases Based on Premises Liability in Georgia

Sometimes tragedy strikes after hours or because of some element of design in the pool or lake area. In those circumstances, a general premises liability analysis will apply. Premises liability is a surprisingly simple body of law that can be condensed into this: if the person or company owning or running the facility knows more about a particular danger than you do and you are hurt by the danger, then there may be a case. If the danger is obvious, there is probably no case because your knowledge is equal to the owner's.

We will deal here with people who are allowed to be on the property. Remember that trespassers have far fewer rights when illegally on the property.  “A landowner owes only a minimal duty to a trespasser: to avoid wilfully or wantonly injuring" them.  Gomez v. Julian LeCraw & Co. 269 Ga. App 576 (2004) (however remember that if the property owner knows that people trespass there frequently, the duty increases)

Liability for Drowning in a Lake or Detention Pond

Lake drowning cases, absent a lifeguard, are challenging. In one important case, the family of a woman who drowned in Dekalb County Georgia sued a property developer, arguing that the owner should have erected a fence around the detention pond. While the experts disagreed on whether the fence was required under the code, the appellate court cut to the heart of the matter and threw the case out on summary judgment, finding that the mother was fully aware the lake was there and could have appreciated the risk of drowning. In other words, the woman who drowned had knowledge equal to that of the landowner so there was no case. Brazier v. Phoenix Group 280 Ga. App. 67 (2006)

Responsibility for Children Who Drown in Closed Swimming Pools in Georgia

A constant concern for Georgia parents and homeowners are children who trespass into swimming pools and drown. It is every parents nightmare and it happens all too frequently. So what is the law? If your child wanders into a neighbors pool or an apartment complex pool and drowns, is the pool owner responsible? It's trespassing right?

Georgia has adopted the attractive nuisance doctrine. Gregory v. Johnson 249 Ga. 151 (1982)  When it comes to child trespassers, the law puts a special duty on property owners if  they own a place where an artificial condition (as opposed to a lake) exists which will attract kids. The condition has to be "inherently alluring."  A swimming pool is the perfect example but a stack of railroad ties or wooden shelves is not.

Consider though a case case where children snuck into a closed apartment pool through a hole in the fence.

The Court reiterated that drowning is an obvious danger that even children appreciate and a plaintiff older than 7 may assume the risk of drowning by going into the water. They then held that the trial judge who threw the case out was correct in that there was nothing the grieving mother could do to point to responsibility on the part of the pool. Rice v. Oaks Investors II 292 Ga. App. 692 (2008)

In summary, speak with a lawyer who deals with drowning cases in Georgia soon after the tragedy to determine what duties and rights apply.






Client Reviews
  • My wife and I were hit by a tractor trailer in 2014. After extensive research online, we were deeply impressed with the various reviews we read on Google and Avvo and chose Chris to represent us. We could not have a made a better decision. Chris and his firm treated us like we were their only clients, soothed our worries, and instantly gained our trust. Chris settled both of our cases for more than we expected.
    ★★★★★
  • A co-worker of my wife recommended Chris to us. At the very beginning Chris showed that he cared and his knowledge is priceless. Going through this process can be aggravating but Chris did a great job guiding me through this and was always available to answer my questions. Chris fought to get what I deserved even though at times I wanted to give up.
    ★★★★★
  • I want to express my deepest sense of gratitude and appreciation to Attorney Chris Simon & Attorney Chris Carsten, for all the hard work that they put forth into my case (car accident filed after being hit by drunk driver). Their attention to detail and professionalism far surpasses their firm's reputation. Because of their diligence and dedication to their craft, they were able to bring my case to a successful close, one that I could live with. You will not find a better team for your case. Should I have a need for their services again in the future, or know of anyone looking for a top notch Auto Accident Law Firm, I would not hesitate to recommend them!!!!
    ★★★★★
  • Wow...Chris is a very good attorney. Me and my son was in a very bad car accident an I was clueless on how to handle the situation. It's very hard to find an attorney who allows you to contact them personally instead of you contacting their asst. I was told that I didn't have a case because the hosiptal put a lien on my acct. Chris prove different and I was able to file my case with the insurance company. The process was very quickly and Im glad I selected the right attorney..Thanks Chris
    ★★★★★
  • Chris is a great lawyer and the most people friendly attorney I have ever delt with. He handled my case with great attention to detail and did so in a very short period of time. He is very consice, efficient, patient and understanding. He has a strong passion for what he does and he does it well. I recommend Chris Simon as legal representation for anyone who has suffreed damages or a loss at the negligence of others. He really cares about you and your case.
    ★★★★★