Florida boasts a reputation as a year-round paradise. One of the sunniest and warmest places in the U.S., the “Sunshine State” is an ideal spot for water activities. Alongside this bright reputation however, Florida also bears a higher risk of drowning accidents.
In many cases, drowning accidents are fatal. Every year, Florida sees about 400 unintentional drowning deaths and the Sunshine State has the second-highest drowning death rate in the United States, surpassed only by Hawaii. However, even when a victim survives, they may experience significant temporary or permanent brain or organ damage due to a lack of oxygen.
While causes may vary, many people suffer drowning accidents due to someone else’s negligence so when a person suffers bodily damage or dies in a drowning accident, the victim or the surviving family members can pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the liable parties.
To maximize your chance of successfully receiving full and fair compensation for your losses, it’s important to speak with an experienced Florida drowning accident attorney such as Rick Kolodinsky, P.A., who can determine liability in your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
There are a number of factors that may cause, or contribute, to drowning accidents in Florida. Some of the most common causes of fatal and non-fatal drownings in the Sunshine State include:
Similarly, drowning accidents may occur at various locations, including:
As mentioned above, in a drowning accident, a person’s body may be cut off from oxygen to the point where major body systems begin to shut down. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, its cells begin to die within five minutes. So when the victim is submerged underwater for an extended period of time, they can suffer the following drowning injuries:
The severity of the victim’s drowning injuries depends on the amount of time the person was submerged underwater and lacked oxygen. In many cases, cell damage caused by drowning affects different parts of the brain, leading to the following physical impairments:
A victim of a drowning accident or their surviving family members can bring a lawsuit against the negligent owner of the property where the accident occurred or another entity whose negligence led to the accident.
Under the Florida Statutes Section 429.29, if another party was negligent and caused the plaintiff’s injury or their loved one’s death, the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) must prove the following four elements to seek financial compensation:
In general, the owner of the property where a drowning accident occurred may not owe a duty of care to the victim when the victim was on the property with the intent to commit a crime or trespass. However, the Florida Statutes Section 768.075 provides an exception to the trespassing rule. This exception is called the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, which holds property owners responsible for drowning accidents or injuries to children who were tempted to trespass due to the presence of an object (e.g., a swimming pool) that is attractive to them.
Under the Florida Statutes Section 768.81, Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence” rule which allows injured parties to recover damages even if their own negligence contributed to the accident. However, under the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, the victim’s recovery is reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. So if a victim of a drowning accident was negligent, this may affect the amount of compensation they receive.
For example, if you became a victim of a near-drowning accident because there were no lifeguards to supervise the swimming pool, but you also refused to wear a life jacket, a jury may decide that you were 50% at fault for the drowning accident. As a result, if your damages total $50,000, you will be able to recover only $25,000.
One of the first things you should do if you or your loved one became a victim of a drowning accident in Daytona Beach or other parts of Florida, is to contact an experienced drowning accident lawyer. A lawyer will review your particular case, determine liability for the accident, and help you fight for the full compensation you deserve.
In particular, a drowning accident lawyer can help you recover damages by: