How the Law Can Help if a Child Drowns [Video]
Pools Pose Hazards for Children
Usher Raymond IV, the singer, songwriter and actor known as Usher, is used to being in the nation’s spotlight. But recently he made headlines for a tragic event that happened to his son Usher V.
The 5-year-old nearly lost his life when his arm got stuck underwater in a pool drain. Reports indicate he has made a full recovery.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year about 700 children under 15 aren’t that lucky. Nineteen-month-old Edna Mae McGovern was known as Em to her family.
“I proceeded to put groceries away,” says Cassie McGovern, Em’s mother. “I walked out of the room at one point to answer a question from my husband and when I went back she was not there. So, I went outside.”
What Em’s mom found outside her Coral Springs, Fla. home would change her family forever.
“I saw the reflection of Em floating in our pool. I immediately just started screaming and I ran around to the opening of the fence and just held her.”
Her husband performed CPR. After a week, Em’s brain activity stopped and she was taken off life support.
When to See a Lawyer
“The first thing we would encourage any family that goes through a tragedy of a near drowning or a drowning of a young child is to see a lawyer because sometimes you just don’t know if there may be liability,” says Miami-Dade personal injury attorney Mike Haggard.
He says parents don’t typically file lawsuits in child drowning cases because they’re forced to relive the tragedy.
“A a lot of times parents will blame themselves and they don’t realize that there really was a cause behind it,” says Haggard.
In addition to providing a personal justice, lawsuits against pool drain manufacturers, fencing fabricators and others also can bring about reforms on a national scale.
“When parents come forward and these cases are investigated, society learns about it property owners learn about it and then what happens is changes are made that make sure that another child won’t lose their life.”
Haggard also says when considering a drowning lawsuit, first find a trial lawyer who specializes in these types of incidents.
“They’re very unique. Different laws apply, not only national statewide laws but county ordinances, city ordinances and different types of health codes that a typical trial lawyer or general practitioner will have no idea about,” he says.
Lawsuits can bring justice and affect broader change, but they can’t bring a child back to life.
Ways to Prevent Drowning
“You have children. You have a pool. You have water. There’s no peace of mind,” says Kim Burgess, Executive Director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. She recommends the best way to protect a child from drowning is having parental or adult supervision. Beyond that, make sure your child can swim when he or she can crawl. Install door alarms and door locks and check state and local laws for fence and gate requirements.
Both Burgess and Haggard want society to think of unintentional drowning like any other child death. It must be investigated, to know how it happened and how to prevent it in the future. In Fort Lauderdale, I’m Amber Statler-Matthews for Lawyers.com.