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Water-Related Brain Injury - Zayouna Law Firm
Jul 1 2023 | Zayouna Admin

Water-Related Brain Injuries: Signs, Symptoms, and Legal Options

In the summer Ontarians flock to lakes, rivers, pools, and water parks to escape the heat. Recreating in and around water is a source of excitement and relaxation for many. However, the potential risks associated with these activities should not be ignored, particularly when it comes to brain injuries

Whether swimming, boating, or participating in water sports, accidents can and do occur, sometimes leading to traumatic brain injuries. This article aims to provide essential information about water-related brain injuries. We will cover the signs and symptoms of the most common injuries, preventive measures, and discuss when to contact an Ontario personal injury lawyer.

How Water-Related Brain Injuries Occur

Water-related brain injuries can result from various recreational activities. Common causes include diving accidents, boating collisions, water skiing mishaps, and slip and fall accidents near bodies of water. One of the most common brain injuries–concussions–tend to be caused by sudden blows to the head, and can occur anywhere. Diving from heights, engaging in whitewater sports, and playing in water parks are some of the most common causes of water-related concussions. 

Drowning is one of the biggest concerns when recreating around water. Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in Ontario, with around 150 fatal drownings occurring each year. However, non-fatal drownings are responsible for a unique set of consequences as well. Each year in Ontario, over 500 people go to the emergency room for non-fatal drowning, presenting serious health complications caused by prolonged lack of oxygen. 

Participating in water sports without proper safety equipment or adequate supervision significantly increases the risk of brain injuries. Strong water currents, rip tides, underwater hazards, and the unpredictability of natural water bodies add complexities that can increase the risk of brain injuries during water-related activities. 

Signs and Symptoms of Water-Related Brain Injuries 

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of water-related brain injuries is essential for prompt medical attention and proper treatment. 


Concussions are among the most common brain injuries related to water recreation. These injuries occur when the brain experiences a sudden jolt or blow, causing it to move inside the skull. 

Signs of a concussion include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness and/or doubled or blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Headache or pressure in the skull
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish or groggy 

Medical evaluation is essential if you suspect someone has experienced a concussion. Monitor symptoms for a few days after the incident to see if symptoms are worsening. Ultimately, rest will be key for treating a concussion.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) typically occurs if someone has experienced repeated traumatic brain injuries, like concussions. The symptoms of CTE tend to develop over months or years. Symptoms may include things like cognitive deficits, memory issues, mental health problems like depression and anxiety, or motor issues. 

If you or a loved one has experienced multiple concussions, and you are noticing changes in mood, memory skills, or cognitive processing, seek medical attention immediately. There is no cure for CTE, but there are treatments that can help manage the severity and progression of symptoms.

Near Drownings

Near drowning is the term typically used for cases where someone has almost died from drowning. It is the stage before drowning becomes fatal, and has a host of health complications to be aware of.

Immediate signs that someone has experienced a near drowning include:

  • Cold or bluish skin
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting

Correctly performing CPR can be life-saving if someone is drowning. After the incident, seek immediate medical attention to prevent long-term respiratory issues, brain damage, or other complications.

How To Help Prevent Brain Injuries

Preventing water-related brain injuries requires proactive measures and adherence to safety guidelines. By taking a few precautions, you can make your summer recreation much safer.

  • Wear appropriate safety gear: When engaging in water sports or activities, always wear proper safety gear such as life jackets, helmets, and appropriate swimwear. 
  • Follow safety guidelines: Adhere to safety guidelines and regulations specific to the activity, including following boating speed limits, diving restrictions, and facility rules.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: Consuming alcohol or drugs while participating in water-related activities impairs judgment and coordination, seriously increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Maintain proper supervision: Always supervise children around pools and natural bodies of water, but also always ensure you have a buddy when doing water-related activities like free diving, scuba diving, whitewater paddling, etc.
  • Check water conditions: Before entering natural bodies of water, assess the water conditions, such as currents, weather, and visibility.

Legal Options After a Water-Related Brain Injury

In cases where someone suffers water-related brain injuries due to the negligence of a third party, they may have legal options to seek compensation for their losses and medical expenses.

Determining liability in water-related brain injury cases can be complex. If the injury occurred due to a boat operator’s negligence, a poorly maintained water attraction, or inadequate safety measures, legal action may be pursued against responsible parties.

Individuals affected by water-related brain injuries can seek compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Consulting a personal injury lawyer experienced in water-related brain injury cases will help with understanding legal options and building a strong case for compensation.

Zayouna Law: Your Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered a water-related brain injury due to negligence, Zayouna Law is here to help. Our team of experienced Ontario personal injury lawyers is dedicated to providing compassionate support and legal representation to those affected by the negligence of others. 

We understand the challenges you may be facing. Our lawyers prioritize clients’ well-being and will guide you through the legal process with experience and care. Contact us to book a free consultation and take the next steps toward getting back to normal life.

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