Sadly, drowning accidents are fairly common in Florida. Florida has one of the highest rates of swimming pool use in the country and has the highest rate of drowning deaths for children under age 15 in the nation. Of these deaths, 60 percent occur in residential swimming pools.
Not every swimming pool accident entitles the family to a death claim or an injured child to a personal injury settlement. However, if your child drowned or suffered a swimming pool injury, you deserve to know exactly what happened.
Most of these accidents could have been prevented if the responsible parties would have simply taken the appropriate safety precautions. When a drowning or near-drowning occurs, property owners can be held liable for damages under the premises liability theory of negligence.
If the victim is a child, it will not matter that the child was trespassing at the time of the accident, as property owners can still be responsible under the “attractive nuisance” doctrine. An “attractive nuisance” is defined as a dangerous condition on a property that is likely to attract young children. Some examples set forth in previous case law have included abandoned appliances or trampolines, but swimming pools are one of the top forms of attractive nuisance in Florida. This law recognizes that children, because of their youth and inexperience, may not be able to comprehend or appreciate the danger associated with entering a swimming pool absent appropriate supervision.
A claim for damages, when successful, can provide your family with the ability to move forward without financial stress, and to pay for the costs associated with the loss of the treasured family member.
Residential Pool Drowning or Near-Drowning
Given the devastating toll of residential swimming pool drownings and near-drownings, on October 1, 2000, the Florida legislatures enacted statutes requiring that all residential pools built after that date would meet safety requirements including:
- The pool must be isolated from access to the home by an enclosure or barrier that is at least 4-feet high with no gaps, openings, indentations, protrusions or other structural components that might allow a small child to crawl under, squeeze through or climb over;
- Pool barriers have to be placed around the perimeter of the pool, and have to be separate from any wall, fence or other enclosure surrounding the yard, unless the wall, fence or enclosure is on the perimeter of the pool, and is thus serving as part of the barrier;
- The barrier has to be placed far enough away from the edge of the water so as to prevent a small child or medically-frail older person from immediately falling into the water if he or she does manage to get inside the barrier;
- Above-ground pool owners need to make sure any ladder, steps or other means of access can be secured, locked or removed;
- If the pool lacks a barrier, it must be equipped with an approved pool safety cover. Alternatively, property owners can choose to equip all windows and doors providing direct access to the pool with exit alarms or self-closing, self-latching devices that are at least 54 inches above the ground.
Water Park Drowning or Near-Drowning
Around 80 million people visit water parks in the United States each year, yet the highly-profitable industry does not prioritize patron safety. Visiting families could experience an unexpected tragedy that could have been prevented with improved safety regulations and information regarding potential risks. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that theme parks, in general, are to blame for frequent injuries and fatalities.
Injuries and death can occur easily on a ride if staff fail to direct patrons appropriately. The water flow on a slide can push a rider into a deep pool before they take a proper breath, or a poor swimmer may not realize that they’re entering an unsafe depth. Ride operators have to time each guest correctly to ensure that they do not collide, and they may not turn away a guest that does not fit the minimum ride requirements. One moment of safety neglect in a water park can cause a visitor to end up with an injury, or even death.
If you or someone you know has drowned or had a near-drowning experience, you need to seek advice from a drowning lawyer at once.
Call us today at 305-505-1000 for a free legal consultation.
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