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Tort Liability for Drowning: Wrongful Death, Personal Injury, Defenses

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, November 14, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will educate plaintiffs' and defendants' personal injury counsel about litigation arising out of drownings: the cause of thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each year. These cases represent significant exposure for property owners, boat owners, local governments, and their insurers. Lawyers on both sides of the issue must be familiar with both the main issues and nuances.


According to the CDC, more than 3,000 people die each year in non-boat-related drownings, and thousands more are injured. Drowning victim's next-of-kin will look to those with control over the location of the incident for relief. Counsel both bringing and defending those claims must understand the intricacies involved.

A drowning case, to some extent, finds its roots in premises liability so counsel must be familiar with the plaintiff classes of invitee, licensee, and trespasser. However, when a swimming pool or other body of water that also includes slides, diving boards, tire swings, and the like--and is unfenced--the concept of attractive nuisance comes into play.

There are many defenses to these claims, including the implied or written assumption of the risk of dangerous activity. In the case of public places, sovereign immunity is a factor. Insurance coverage is of paramount importance, and owners and operators of pools and other potential drowning sites should be proactive about complying with conditions of coverage if any.

Listen as the panel of plaintiffs' and defendants' trial attorneys provides insight and guidance on these all too common and tragic cases. The panel will identify the controlling legal principals and direction as to how to use them in the demand stage, during pleading, and at trial.



  1. Commonly litigated cases
    1. Pools
    2. Boats
    3. Ponds
    4. Floods
  2. Bases of liability
    1. Premises liability
    2. Negligence
    3. Attractive nuisance
  3. Defenses
    1. Status of the plaintiff (i.e., invitee, licensee, trespasser)
    2. Contributory/comparative negligence
    3. Assumption of risk
    4. Waiver/exculpation
    5. Sovereign immunity
  4. Insurance coverage


The panel will review these and other relevant matters:

  • Common scenarios giving rise to claims
  • Bases of causes of action and defenses
  • Insurance coverage issues


Bennett, David
David M. Bennett

Pretzel & Stouffer

Mr. Bennett has established a diverse practice representing and defending the amusement, sports and recreation...  |  Read More

McCarron, Douglas
Douglas J. McCarron

The Haggard Law Firm

Mr. McCarron has significant experience handling a wide variety of cases including those involving negligent security,...  |  Read More

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