Mounting Death Toll from Accidents on Lake Lanier Alarms Local Residents

FORSYTH, GEORGIA (July 31, 2023) – Residents of northern Georgia are urging people to stay away from Lake Lanier after nearly 700 people have died at the man-made reservoir.

There have been two recent deaths at the lake over the last weekend. A 61-year-old man jumped into the lake when he became distressed. The group he was with tried to get him a life-jacket, but they could not get it to him in time. His body was recovered 45 minutes later.

In a separate incident, a 24-year-old man was electrocuted when he jumped off a dock near Dove Trail. Neighbors reportedly tried to help the man but exited the water after they felt a burning sensation.

An electrical box had to be shut off near the dock before they were able to pull the victim to shore. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

A HISTORY OF FATAL ACCIDENTS ON LAKE LANIER

A number of people have called Lake Lanier cursed due to its unfortunate history. Many predominately black families were forced out of their home to build the lake. Churches, local businesses and even cemeteries were either engulfed or displaced.

Lake Lanier was first opened in 1956 and covers more than 37,000 acres. It stretches across five counties including Dawson, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Hall and Lumpkin.

Lake Lanier remains one of the deadliest lakes in the United States with over 700 deaths across its nearly six-decade history. Despite its history, the lake remains a popular recreational spot. Numerous people have drowned after getting caught up in the lake’s strong currents.

An estimated 57 people have died in boating fatalities between 1999 and 2018. Many of these collisions have taken place on the weekend when there is increased traffic. There is wide speculation that a number of missing persons have accidentally drowned in the lake.

LIABILITY FOR DROWNINGS AND BOATING ACCIDENTS AT LAKE LANIER

Drowning is one of the leading causes of preventable injury and death. This is especially true for young children between the ages of 1 – 4 who have the highest drowning rates. According to the World Health Organization, “Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.” While swimming pools can be dangerous, there are a number of additional hazards that reservoirs like Lake Lanier present.

  • Lakes have currents that can pull even experienced swimmers further away from the shore.
  • Lakes are subject to all of the forces of nature and can become turbulent even with very mild weather.
  • Lakes can be deceptively deep unlike swimming pools which typically have their depths marked.
  • Lakes can become contaminated with pollutants and potentially dangerous microorganisms. One Georgia resident recently died after swimming in a freshwater lake and contracting a brain eating amoeba.
  • Lakes often have inexperienced boaters which creates a hazard for swimmers as well as other people in boats.

Depending on the facts of any case, there could be numerous sources of liability for a death or injury that takes place on Lake Lanier. For example, the operator of a boat could be liable if they hit someone or caused someone to fall into the water. All boat operators are required to slow down in areas where swimmers are likely to congregate. Pursuant to GA Code § 52-7-12.1, “Any person who operates any vessel or manipulates any water skis, aquaplane, surfboard, tube, or similar device in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless operation of a vessel or other water device.”

A property owner whose premises extended onto Lake Lanier could also potentially be liable for a drowning or injury. Under Ga. Code § 51-3-1, property owners are required to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. They must protect invitees from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm. If there is a defect on a property which contributed to a drowning, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any accident at Lake Lanier.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • All medical records related to the accident should be preserved.
  • The police report of the incident should be obtained.
  • An experienced boat accident attorney should be contacted.

Any accident resulting in a serious injury or death can be devastating. Losing a loved one is never easy. Likewise, a serious injury could imperil a person’s ability to be gainfully employed. It is important that accident victims understand that they do have rights. any person that is injured due to the negligence of another person or entity may have legal recourse through a civil claim. A personal injury attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.

Getting Legal Help After A Drowning Or Boating Accident At Lake Lanier

We at The Butler Kahn Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to all of the families who have lost someone at Lake Lanier. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent as many of these accidents as possible. One possible solution could be to increase enforcement against boaters who are speeding or otherwise acting recklessly.

Have you or someone you care about been harmed at Lake Lanier? Our team of boat accident attorneys are here to help you. We have obtained record breaking verdicts and settlements for our clients including a $3,973,260.00 settlement for a woman gravely injured by an intoxicated boat operator on Lake Lanier. Whether you just have legal questions or are thinking about hiring an attorney we are here for you. You are always welcome to reach out to us anytime at 678-940-1444.

Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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