In the summer of 2017, the Sunshine State led the nation in a very unwelcome category, viz, the number of swimming pool drownings. There were almost as many victims in Florida as there were in California and Texas combined.
These victims are usually entitled to significant compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. However, due to Florida’s complicated negligence rules, this compensation is not always easy to obtain.
Things Happen Quickly
On average, it takes about four minutes for someone to sign for a package at the front door. It also takes about four minutes for a victim to sustain permanent brain damage due to a swimming pool drowning.
One day soon, stem cell therapy and other emerging treatments may enable doctors to reverse brain damage. But for now, dead brain cells simply do not regenerate.
Extended and extensive physical therapy is basically the only treatment for oxygen-deprivation head injuries. An attorney must fight diligently for both. Especially with regard to brain injuries, physical therapy progress often comes in fits and starts. If the insurance company tries to cut off funding, there could be devastating consequences. Moreover, therapists who think “outside the box” often get the best results. These alternative treatments must be available to Florida victims.
Drownings Aren’t the Only Problems
Largely because they often result in wrongful death, swimming pool drowning incidents get most of the attention. But swimming pool poisoning cases are much more common.
Swimming pool cleaning chemicals have high levels of chlorine and other toxic substances. Even brief over-exposure can cause serious chemical burns in sensitive places like the eyes and nose. Furthermore, many people have serious allergic reactions to certain chemicals. These injuries may not become apparent for some time after the victim exits the pool.
The opposite is also true. If there are not enough cleaning agents in the water, bacteria thrives. These germs can cause serious illnesses in many cases.
To prevent both these outcomes, Florida and local laws closely regulate the amount of cleaning chemicals in swimming pools. But as outlined below, dangerously high levels, or dangerously low levels, may be insufficient to trigger liability.
Florida Swimming Pool Injury Claims Face Legal Obstacles
Like most other states, Florida courts observe the negligence per se rule. This doctrine relies not on a violation of duty but on a violation of statute. The rule applies if:
- The tortfeasor broke a law with public safety implications, and
- That violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s damages.
In many jurisdictions, the negligence per se rule establishes liability as a matter of law. In other words, if a tortfeasor breaks the law, it does not matter how careful or reckless that person was.
But in Florida, unless the tortfeasor broke a safety law which includes jail time, like the DUI law, negligence per se is only a presumption of negligence. Victim/plaintiffs must often introduce additional evidence of negligence during trial.
Assume Vince Victim suffers chemical burns because the chlorine level is too high in an apartment pool. To obtain damages, Vince would need more proof of negligence. That could be similar complaints from other swimmers.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Swimming pool injury cases often 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).