Drowning death attorneys fighting for
families of swimming pool accident victims
Drowning accidents leave families and communities wondering how the tragedy happened and whether similar accidents can be prevented. In addition to mourning the loss of a loved one, families also have to make legal decisions. Personal injury lawyers are available to represent and advise drowning accident victims' families. When you retain us, our drowning accident lawyers will file a claim on the victim's behalf in civil court and handle negotiations with insurance companies.
Swimming pools and premises liability
Drowning accidents often result in premises liability claims. Florida's premises liability laws require property owners, businesses, and managers to keep their properties safe for visitors. Visitors are classified as invitees, licensees and trespassers. State law imposes varying degrees of duty to protect visitors in each category. Florida has enacted very specific laws that require pool owners to keep their premises safe.
Pool Safety laws in Florida
According to Florida's Residential Pool Safety Act (RSPSA), property owners are legally responsible for installing specific safety measures to protect children and adults from pool-related accidents. The state has taken on a more aggressive approach toward curbing pool safety violations. Unlike in other premises liability cases, accident victims are only required to prove negligence per se in pool accident claims. This means Florida courts only require pool accident victims to prove the property owner acted negligently. The courts do not consider whether the property owner owed the accident victim a duty in cases involving pool accidents.
Swimming pools are attractive nuisances
The doctrine of "attractive nuisance" recognizes that the average child is cognitively unable to comprehend dangers in the same ways as adults. To the average child, a swimming pool is simply fun and interesting. Based on the "attractive nuisance" doctrine, Florida requires property owners to equip pools and hot tubs with safety features outlined in the legislation.
Safety fence required for residential pools
State law requires swimming pools constructed after 2000 to be enclosed by a wall, a fence or a combination thereof that is at least 48 inches tall. To minimize the risk of a child maneuvering underneath, the bottom of the barrier must be raised no higher than four inches from the ground. If the barrier is a fence that has vertical slats, the slats must be spaced less than four inches apart from each other. The pool must be covered with a fitted covering as described within the Pool Safety Act. All doors that provide direct access from the home to the pool must be equipped with a self-locking, self-latching device. The release mechanism for the device must be located no fewer than 54 inches above the ground.
Public pools have more stringent requirements than residential pools. In addition to the safety barrier requirement, public pools are required to have a drain safety device to prevent injuries caused by swimming pool drains. Chemical safety, cleanup procedures following a fecal accident, and lifeguard training are also regulated by state laws for public pools.
Liability in drowning accidents
Depending on the circumstances of the case, there are several parties who may be liable in drowning accidents. Property owners are liable if the accident occurred in a pool that lacked fencing or other safety features. A pool facility may be liable if it employs an underqualified lifeguard and the accident happens while the lifeguard is on duty. A manufacturer or contractor may be legally responsible if an accident is caused by a design defect, manufacturing defect or improper installation. A Plantation drowning accident attorney can help accident victims' surviving family members receive compensation for the victim's medical expenses, funeral expenses and lost wages. Family members may also recover damages for their economic and emotional injuries caused by the loss of their loved one.
Swimming pool accidents do not always result in drowning. Accident victims who survive near-drowning accidents may have severe long-term injuries including:
- brain hypoxia
- brain ischemia
- fluid in the lungs
- electrolyte imbalance
Some conditions accident victims develop as a result of a near-drowning accident may require lifelong medical support while the most severe injuries eventually cause death. Near-drowning accident victims may receive compensation for current and future medical expenses for their ongoing medical support. They may also receive compensation for lost wages or future lost wages if the accident causes permanent disability. Victims may also receive compensation for pain and suffering for the impact the injury has on his or her lifestyle.
Drowning accidents and wrongful death claims
In negligent accidents that cause death, a personal representative may file a claim for compensation on the victim's behalf in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. If the accident victim had a will at the time of his or her death, the personal representative is usually named in the individual's will. If the decedent does not have a will, the surviving spouse will typically act as the personal representative. If the accident victim does not have a surviving spouse, the surviving family members may agree upon someone who will serve as the personal representative. If the surviving family members cannot agree upon who will act as the personal representative, the court will decide.
Retain a drowning accident lawyer today
Drowning accident victims' families should contact a Plantation personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Florida imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. While two years might seem like a long time, contacting an attorney early on affords the lawyer more time to gather evidence, pursue compensation from insurance companies, and work diligently to get the cause settled without going to trial. If the liable party refuses to compensate the victim fairly, the victim's personal injury attorney will also provide legal representation in civil court.
Our attorneys are available to provide legal counsel, representation, and advocacy to drowning accident victims' families in Plantation, Florida. Call our office today to receive a free case evaluation.