Liability in North Carolina swimming accidents is determined several ways. A recent fatal swimming accident in Hendersonville, North Carolina poses the question asked after any accident:
The circumstances of an accident can help establish liable parties, and evidence collected after an accident also contributes to a case--and in this particular incident, a possible wrongful death case.
Swimming Accident Liability Factors
Who? When children drown or are injured in a swimming accident, a responsible parent or guardian may be a liable party if they failed to observe the child. The Hendersonville drowning involved 18-year-old Joseph Gordon Thompson. Local news has not reported if Thompson was under the influence, suffered preexisting health conditions, or if the friends he was swimming with contributed to his struggles in the water.
What? Thompson's sudden difficulty swimming resulted in him being under water for about five minutes, as per witness statements in local news reports. The lack of oxygen is believed to have contributed to his death. An autopsy may uncover other health issues, but one was not completed at the time of this writing. Other swimming-related injuries that have made headlines in North Carolina have caused spinal injuries and paralysis. A few years ago a pool accident injured a woman's spine and caused paralysis just before her wedding.
Where? This particular swimming accident occured at a lake. Some public swimming areas have signs posting designated sections for swimming, some have lifeguards and scheduled swimming times. According to news reports it is unclear how this is managed at Lake Summit. Other North Carolina swimming accidents over the years have brought attention to inadequate signage and warnings, like the Busco Beach drownings in Goldsboro. For victims who were injured in a private pool--homeowners may be responsible if they failed to provide proper fencing or pool locks.