Tort Law

Drowning

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Drowning and premises liability.For more information on drowning see the pages on Wikipedia.

Drowning Cases

2011 Volpe v. City of Lexington, 281 Va. 630, 708 S.E.2d 824.
Child drowned in river that was designated as a city park designed for swimming. Trial Court incorrectly held that dangerous current was open and obvious condition. Although the potential dangerousness of the water itself may have been open and obvious, what was not open and obvious was the dangerous current which created a hydraulic beneath the water surface. Jury issue likewise created as to whether or not this condition constituted a form of recklessness or total disregard of precautions amounting to gross negligence on the part of the City. As a matter of law, however, this conduct on the part of the City did not rise to the level of willful and wanton negligence.

273 Va. 199, 639 S.E.2d 284.
Drowning cases.Plaintiffs’ 30-month-old infant drowned in backyard pool of sefendants. Evidence was that gate surrounding pool was noncompliant and that it failed to meet the requirements of the National Building Code and the County’s Building Code because the gate was not self-latching, the latch was not at least 48 inches from the ground and the fence’s top rail was not at least 48 inches high. Jury returned verdict for plaintiff that was upheld. Evidence was that defendant’s negligence probably was a cause of the child’s death. In this instance, it was enough to prove causal negligence if the jury could reasonably infer that the non-self latching gate could be opened enough for the child to slip through the gate even though it may have prevented entry of an adult.

2006 Baker v. Poolservice Co., 272 Va. 677, 636 S.E.2d 360.
In this drowning case, Pool Service Company had been hired to perform routine annual maintenance and cleaning. In the course of that maintenance, the company returned the spa to its normal working condition. There is no evidence in this case that the Pool Service Company had knowledge of any dangerous condition related to the pump or that it created any dangerous condition. As such, the demurrer to Pool Service Company was properly granted. The claim against the manufacturer was deemed to be time barred under the five-year statute of repose.

1977 S & C Co. v. Home, 218 Va. 124, 235 S.E.2d 456.
Drowning cases.Landlord owner of apartment complex who, as part of consideration for rental payments, provides swimming pool for use of tenants, must exercise ordinary care for safety of his patrons. He must make reasonable provisions to guard against those accidents which common knowledge and experience teach are likely to befall those engaged in swimming. Duties of lifeguard consist of observing swimmers for signs of distress and, at some point, attempting to rescue those in distress.

1970 Sykes v. Langley Cabs, Inc., 211 Va. 202, 176 S.E.2d 417.
Drowning cases.Plaintiff alighted from cab on pier on dark and stormy night, fell and drowned. Degree of care of common carrier discussed. Error to strike plaintiff’s evidence.

1964 Blacka v. James, 205 Va. 646, 139 S.E.2d 47.
Drowning cases.Decedent drowned in commercial swimming area. Res ipsa loquitur not applicable. No presumption that drowning would not have occurred had lifeguards been doing job. Plaintiff failed to establish proximate cause.

1957 Collins v. Smith, 198 Va. 778, 96 S.E.2d 818.
Drowning cases.Jury question was presented as to cause of drowning where there was evidence that child was wading in water in vicinity of manhole and rainwater had filled manhole and covered street, so that outline of manhole was not visible.

1948 Washabaugh v. Northern Va. Constr. Co., 187 Va. 767, 48 S.E.2d 27.
Child drowned in quarry while swimming; danger was natural, open and obvious.

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Drowning

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