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Drowning: accident or negligence?

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When a guest died in a Devon hotel swimming pool back in 2008, the hotel was found liable for the death and was met with a £35,000 fine.
The guest, a 28 year old man, was a non swimmer. He got into difficulties in the pool at the Rainbow International Hotel in Torquay. The pool had a steep gradient, but as no proper risk assessment had been carried out by those responsible for the hotel’s health and safety, there was a lack of supervision and written emergency procedures. According to reports, it took hotel staff up to three minutes to attend the scene after the alarm was raised.
Having learnt that their loss was a result of the hotel’s negligence, the victim’s family will no doubt wish to pursue a claim for compensation, unless a settlement has already been reached.
13-Year old dies in Lancashire quarry
Recently in Lancashire, a 13 year old boy drowned whilst swimming in a quarry. His mother stated in a press interview, in an attempt to highlight the dangers of swimming in open water, that her son was ‘a strong lad and a very capable swimmer, [yet] despite this he still found himself in trouble and unable to swim a short distance to safety’.
The area is popular with young people and the water attracts many children during the good weather. It is not yet known whether the verdict will be recorded as accidental death, or if an inquiry will ensue into whether anything could have been done to reduce any risks posed at the site.
Official inquiries
Drowning accidents are sometimes just that: accidents. Originally the Devon hotel incident recorded a verdict of accidental death; however, this was overturned in court. It often takes an inquiry and investigation, usually by the Health and Safety Executive and/or the Local Authority and sometimes the police, to show that there was more to an incident than a straightforward accident and when it is proved that negligence was to blame, apart from fines and prosecutions against the negligent party, compensation claims can be lodged.
Solicitors work closely with the authorities who have conducted the inquiries and carefully translate the evidence into a robust claim that will adequately compensate their clients for their suffering and any financial losses.
If you have lost a loved one in a drowning incident and are not sure whether you could claim against those responsible for ensuring the safety of the site where it happened, speak to one of the expert lawyers at Stephensons by calling 01616 966 229. We will examine the facts and let you know whether you have a case.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney