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Illinois Law Allows Financial Recovery For Some Families Of Drowning Victims

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When a family member meets an untimely death, the situation can be confusing and overwhelming. If you have lost a loved one in a swimming pool drowning incident, you can sue to recover financial damages. Government-run pools present special challenges because Illinois government entities are partially shielded by a special set of laws, but there may still be ways to get the compensation your family deserves. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you sort out the details of your case.

In the summer of 2013, a 14-year-old boy dove into the deep end of McKinley Park Pool in Chicago. After he failed to come back up for over a minute, swimmers at the pool noticed something was wrong. But instead of being rescued by a lifeguard, it was a stranger who allegedly rushed to try to save the drowning boy. Pulled unconscious from the water, the boy was taken to a hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him. Some witnesses say the lifeguards on duty did not perform CPR.

In July of this year, the boy's father filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cook County Court against the Chicago Park District that operates the pool. The family of the boy seeks $50,000 in damages, asserting that they have suffered from the loss of their loved one. The lawsuit argues that the city failed to properly monitor and control the premises where the drowning occurred.

A wrongful death lawsuit allows a deceased person's next of kin to sue on his or her behalf. In these types of lawsuits, the family of the deceased can collect financial damages to help pay for medical and funeral bills, loss of companionship, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are important because they can spur changes in policy that might save future lives. In Illinois, there are special challenges when filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a government entity.

The state of Illinois provides qualified immunity for government entities and employees. Qualified immunity is found in section 745 ILCS10 of the Illinois code, and it is designed to protect the government and its workers from being sued. However, Illinois' qualified immunity is not absolute, and you can still sue a government entity for a variety of reasons, including willful and wanton conduct. If you are able to demonstrate that the state entity or its employee showed utter indifference to the safety of others or their property, you can show willful and wanton conduct on the part of the state.

In a drowning incident, willful and wanton conduct can occur in a variety of different ways, including lifeguards who are indifferent to danger or leave their posts unattended, maintenance crews who disregard safety standards, lack of mandatory warning signage at poolside, and improper or un-enforced pool policies. It is not enough to merely claim that a state employee's action was “willful and wanton.” Evidence must support the assertion.

The evidence to prove your case may include police investigation reports, video evidence, eyewitness testimony, medical expert testimony, state and local regulations, safety manuals, and a number of other types of proof. This complex evidence should be presented in a clear and convincing manner by an attorney with experience in premises liability and personal injury cases.

If your loved one passed away in a swimming pool incident, whether it was a privately operated pool or a public one, you should consult a personal injury lawyer who can explain your rights. Personal injury claims call for knowledgeable and skilled representation. When you are struggling to cope with a tragedy, talk to an experienced attorney at Cavanagh Law Group. Contact us today.

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To speak to a professional and find out if you have grounds to file an injury lawsuit, call our firm at (844) 515-2223 or fill out the form below.

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