Appellate Court Holds Swimmer Assumed Risk of Injury by Entering Water, Dismissing Parents’ Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Whenever a person’s death is a result of the negligent conduct of someone else, the surviving family of the deceased person may be able to pursue compensation for their loss through a Washington, D.C. wrongful death lawsuit. In Washington, D.C., wrongful death lawsuits may be brought by the surviving spouse or partner of the deceased person. If no surviving spouse or partner exists, the next of kin is able to file the lawsuit.

In order to prove a Washington, D.C. wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff must establish that the named defendant’s negligent conduct brought about the death of their loved one. Generally, this requires proof of four elements:  duty, breach, causation, and damages. A recent wrongful death case out of Georgia discusses how a court may apply the causation analysis.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a young man who was a student at the defendant university. The plaintiffs’ son enrolled in a study-abroad program in Costa Rica through the university. Prior to traveling to Costa Rica, school officials warned students of the dangers of swimming in the open ocean, and they asked each of the students whether they were a good swimmer. The plaintiffs’ son indicated that he was comfortable in the water and that he could swim.

While in Costa Rica, the students embarked on a trip to one of the local beaches. A professor with the university accompanied them. No lifeguard was on duty. The students entered the water and remained in a large group until a rip current started to pull several of the students out into the sea. One of the students recalled that the plaintiffs’ son was struggling to stay afloat when a wave swept over him. His body was discovered three days later.

The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death case against the school, claiming that the school was negligent in failing to provide adequate protection to their son. However, the court determined that any potential negligence on the part of the school was not the cause of the student’s death. Instead, the court determined that the student voluntarily accepted the known risks of swimming in the open ocean and, as a result, absolved the university of any potential liability. As a result of this case, the parents’ case against the university was dismissed, and they will not be permitted to pursue compensation for the loss of their son.

Have You Lost a Loved One in a Washington, D.C. Accident?

If you have recently lost a loved one in any kind of Washington, D.C. accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. wrongful death lawsuit. These cases are highly fact-dependent and can turn on what may initially seem to be an insignificant fact. The skilled Maryland and Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience handling wrongful death lawsuits, and they know how to effectively and persuasively present their clients’ cases. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

The Importance of a Thorough Investigation in Washington, D.C. Car Accident Cases, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 11, 2017

Court Discusses Expert Witness Testimony in Recent Car Accident Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 2, 2017

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