Year-round, reasonably pleasant temperatures mean that water sports are very popular in the Sunshine State. For that reason, and because the injuries are so severe, unintentional drownings are the leading cause of death for Florida children under five. The survival rate is higher for older victims. But most of these individuals must deal with permanent and severe brain injuries. Additionally, many victims suffer severe chemical burns due to an overabundance of cleaning chemicals. Others contract dangerous bacterial or viral infections because of a lack of cleaning materials.
In all these cases, damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. A Brandon personal injury attorney may also be able to obtain additional punitive damages, in some cases.
Connecting Victims with Doctors
Obtaining proper medical assistance is usually an attorney’s first priority. If the victim does not recover to the fullest extent possible, everything else is fairly pointless. But many health insurance companies do not cover injury-related expenses, and many families lack the resources to finance long-term medical and rehabilitative care.
That situation may be a blessing in disguise. More than likely, the health insurance physician is a general practice doctor with limited or no experience in swimming pool drowning cases. An attorney can connect a victim with a doctor that’s highly experienced in these matters. So, victims get the treatment they need, as opposed to the treatment they are able to afford.
Furthermore, most attorneys send letters of protection to most doctors. These letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved. So, the doctor charges nothing upfront, and most victims never see medical bills. Moreover, the letter authorizes an attorney to negotiate with the provider for a lower fee. As a result, many victims keep a larger portion of their settlement money.
Seeing a doctor is also important for evidentiary purposes. The medical bills and records often form the bulk of the evidence in these cases. Diagnosis and treatment notes are every bit as valuable as the billing records. Fortunately, Florida courts have victim-friendly rules when it comes to admitting these records at trial.
Witness statements are important as well. When emergency responders arrive on scene, their first priorities are securing the area and tending to injured victims. The report does not come until much later. Even then, it only includes the witnesses who voluntarily came forward at the scene.
An attorney or investigator can go back and re-canvas the area. This effort usually produces additional witnesses who, for whatever reason, did not want to talk to police officers.
Evidence is important because victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in these cases. They must establish negligence, or a lack of ordinary care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or “more likely than not.”
Preparing for Defenses
There are a number of insurance company defenses in swimming pool injury cases. The assumption of the risk doctrine is probably the most common one. This defense has two elements:
- Voluntary assumption of
- A known risk.
Even if the pool posts a sign like “Swim At Your Own Risk” or “No Lifeguard on Duty,” the insurance company must still establish both elements of the defense. Many victims have limited English or reading skills, so they are unable to read the sign and understand what it means. Other times, pool owners bury these disclaimers in non-obvious places, such as in the middle of a long list of pool rules.
Count on Savvy Attorneys
Swimming pool injury cases involve complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).