It is no wonder most parents are terrified of losing their children to drowning since one-fifth of the victims of the thousands of annual drownings in this country are children. If your child has nearly drowned in your neighbor’s swimming pool, you doubtless want to file a lawsuit — not only to receive some measure of compensation, but because of an urgent desire to sound the alert for other parents about the dangers of inadequately supervised pools.
Not “Can I Sue?” but “Should I Sue?”
Our courts allow you to sue for almost anything, but to file and win a personal injury lawsuit you need a competent attorney at your side and no competent attorney will take on an unwinnable case. This is why it is essential to consult with a well-respected drowning accident attorney to find out whether your case is viable. Lawsuits are time-consuming, emotionally wearing, and costly, so it is foolish to pursue one unless it is likely to achieve the desired results.
All Property Owners Are Responsible for Keeping Their Premises Safe
Your neighbors, like all property owners, have a responsibility to keep their premises safe for others. This responsibility is known as “premises liability” and requires, among other things, that they repair broken stairs, warn of slippery surfaces, remove obstacles, and make sure their swimming pool is well-maintained and supervised. Although specific statutes differ from one state to another, in most instances pools must be fenced in and locked.
How Premises Liability Is Proved
It is important to understand that in order to prove your neighbor’s negligence, your attorney has to be able to show that:
- Your neighbor had a duty of care
- Your neighbor breached that duty of care
- Your neighbor’s breach caused your child’s injury
- Your child sustained actual injury
If your child almost drowned in your neighbor’s pool due to negligent supervision, you may have evidence strong enough to win a lawsuit. Nonetheless, because each set of circumstances is unique, only a first-rate premises liability attorney will be able to assess the particulars of your case. Much will depend on whether you were present at the poolside, tasked with watching your own child, or whether your neighbor was in charge at the time of the accident.
If your neighbor invited your child to her home without you, however, even if she did not intend for your child to go swimming, it was her responsibility to protect your child from the foreseeable danger of seeking out her pool, or accidentally falling into it, and to prevent such an occurrence.
Even if your child wandered over to her home and was tempted by the “attractive nuisance” of the swimming pool — perhaps enhanced by a colorful floating toy or a water slide — your neighbor is responsible for your child’s (or any child’s) safety while he or she is on the property.
Nonetheless, other factors, such as the age of your child, may affect a court’s judgment since a young teenager is expected to understand the concept of risk while a toddler is not. Also, an older child is expected to have greater control of his/her own movements. While it may be reasonable to leave two adolescents who know how to swim in a pool unattended for a few minutes, the same behavior is never acceptable when 6-year-olds are involved.
How badly was your child injured?
There is a broad spectrum of injuries, short of wrongful death by drowning, that may be incurred at a neighbor’s swimming pool — ranging from scraping a foot on a jagged surface to suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI) and including everything in-between. Only an experienced drowning accident attorney will be able to weigh the likelihood of your winning a premises liability lawsuit in your particular case.
What will damages provide if you win your case?
Economic and non-economic compensation will not undo whatever damage has occurred, but money provided will pay for medical treatment, rehabilitation, psychological counseling, ongoing care for a permanent disability, and some measure of justice for pain and suffering of loss of enjoyment of life. If your neighbor’s reckless behavior was especially egregious, it is possible that the court will also award you punitive damages.
You Need an Accomplished Attorney to Ask and Answer All the Right questions
There are numerous questions to be answered, such as: Did your child have a close call but begin playing happily within the hour? Did your child suffer minimal brain damage from lack of oxygen? Did your child develop post-traumatic stress as a result of the incident? Was your neighbor the person who saved your child’s life? Did you make it abundantly clear to your neighbor that you were leaving the child in his care? Did your child come away from the accident with a long-term (though not near-fatal) injury, like a broken bone?
Beyond the complexity of all the legal questions, you have to ask yourself the most basic question of all: Who is the best swimming pool accident attorney to consult?
Attorney Bio Bruce H. Nagel is widely recognized as one of the premier trial attorneys in the country having been named by the National Law Journal as one of America’s Top 50 Elite Plaintiff’s Attorneys. He specializes in complex litigation including serious personal injury, class actions, medical malpractice, birth injuries, transportation accidents, and business disputes and has obtained over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for his clients. Many of his high profile cases have been featured on Nightline, Good Morning America, Today Show, Inside Edition and in print media throughout the world. The national legal correspondent for a major network called Bruce “a well-known New Jersey lawyer with an excellent reputation for creative litigation.”