For those who survive a near-drowning, deprivation of oxygen can cause brain damage or serious injury that may last a lifetime. If your loved one has been the victim of a drowning, you are likely experiencing the worst pain imaginable.


Victims of near drowning suffer from conditions the human body was not designed to withstand. When the body naturally tries to breathe for air underwater, inhaled fluid may act as an irritant inside the lungs. While a person might survive the initial drowning, unfortunately, it is common liquid has entered the lungs (pulmonary edema) and a person no longer has the ability to get enough oxygen to survive. A near drowning victim risks this condition for up to 72 hours after the initial accident has occurred.

The most common drowning accidents include:

  • Swimming or falling into a swimming pool;
  • Swimming or falling into a hot tub;
  • Swimming or falling into a pond, lake, or river;
  • Falling into a decorative body of water or fountain; or from
  • Bathing or falling into a bathtub.


It may not come as a surprise children at age one are at the highest risk for accidental drowning. Young children often do not realize the danger water presents and have not yet developed skills to handle water safely.
Studies from the National Safety Council reveal an estimated 5,000 children age 14 and under are hospitalized each year due to unintentional submersion or near-drowning incident per year. Of those 5,000 victims, 15% die in the hospital and upwards of 20% suffer severe, permanent neurological disabilities.

The National Safe Kids Campaign has found 92% of children who survive are found within two minutes of be submerged under water, whereas 86% of children who die are found sometime after 10 minutes. Nearly all children who require CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) pass away or are left with severe brain injury from a near drowning.


The team at Patterson Legal Group, LC supports the Aquatic Safety Research Group and encourages participation in their Note & Float Water Safety Program. Find out more information at www.aquaticsafetygroup.org.


  • Surprise or shock:
    In the surprise or shock stage, a victim first recognizes what is happening and becomes afraid. The victim is likely to assume a near-vertical position in the water, with little to no leg movement. Those who are not able to tread water are likely to make grasping or flipping motions, with the arms at or near the water’s surface. It is difficult in the very first stage of a drowning for a victim to make sounds because it is a struggle just to breathe.
  • Involuntary Holding of Breath
    Once a victim drops below the static water line, the body naturally involuntarily stops breathing and initiates breath holding to try and protect itself. This occurs because water enters the mouth and causes the epiglottis to close over the airway. While the drowning victim continues to struggle, they generally are still unable to make sounds.
  • Unconsciousness
    The lack of oxygen to the body triggers the body to go into shut-down mode and the victim becomes unconscious. In this stage, the victim is motionless. When a person is not breathing, they are in respiratory arrest. At this point the victim will sink to the bottom of the water, either slowly or rapidly, depending on the amount of air trapped in the body, the weight and muscle mass of the victim.
  • Hypoxic Convulsions
    When the brain is deprived of oxygen, the victim may enter the hypoxic convulsion stage and appear as if they are convulsing. The victim’s skin may turn blue, which is most noticeable in the lips and beds of the fingernails. Other symptoms may include frothing at the mouth and a rigid appearance of the body.
  • Clinical Death
    The last stage when a victim is drowning is death. “Clinical Death” occurs when breathing and circulation stop. The victim enters cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood, and vital organs start to shutdown.

The earlier a rescuer of a drowning victim can begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) after the victim’s heart stops and provides defibrillation (if necessary), the better chance the victim has of surviving. The longer a person is submerged underwater, the great the chance the accident will result in permanent brain damage or death. After four minutes without oxygen, brain cells begin to die and irreversible brain damage occurs.

Questions about pursuing a potential drowning claim?

Our team is experienced with handling cases of drowning and near drowning. The attorneys at Patterson Legal Group, LC are prepared to help you realize the best possible outcome for the injuries you or your loved one has sustained. For those who have lost a loved one, we fight to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Call us today at (888) 687-2400 for a free initial consultation.

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