Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer in Miami
Florida has some of the warmest weather in the United States, making it a perfect state to own and use a swimming pool. Unfortunately, they have their own unique dangers that put the public at risk. According to the Florida State Government Health Organization , there were 107 non-fatal hospitalizations from drownings according to the most recent statistics from 2017. Over 63% of these accidents occurred with children between the ages of one and four. There were an additional 101 deaths from unintentional drownings and children between the ages of one and four accounted for over 60% of these deaths.
It is essential to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of swimming pools. Unfortunately, some accidents could have been avoided if a property owner had adequately warned of the danger or had done a better job of securing the property. If you or someone you know was injured in a swimming pool in Miami, an experienced lawyer with Schlacter Law may be able to help you receive compensation for the accident.
When it comes to a hazardous or dangerous condition on a property, the property owner owes a duty of care to protect anyone from that danger. To determine the duty of care owed to someone on a property, it is important to establish what kind of visitor they were at the time the accident occurred. There are three classes of visitors on a property, and each visitor is owed a different duty of care. The three classes are:
- An invitee
- A licensee
- A trespasser
When a property owner invites anyone from the public onto their property, that visitor would be classified as an invitee. If the property owner expressly allowed anyone from the public to swim in their pool, then the owner owes the highest duty of care to any of those visitors. This duty requires the owner to:
- Use reasonable care in maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition
- Give the invitee warning of concealed perils which are or should be known to the landowner, and which are unknown to the invitee and cannot be discovered by him through the exercise of due care. Knight v. Waltman, 774 So.2d (Fla. 2007) 
A licensee is someone the owner specifically invited onto the property. When the property owner expressly invites someone onto their property to use their pool, then they would still owe a duty of care to that visitor. There are two types of licensees. An uninvited licensee and a licensee by invitation. If the person was a licensee by invitation the level of care is the exact same as above or in other words the same as an invitee. If the person was a licensee that was uninvited the pool owner must not intentionally hurt the patron. This is the same for a trespasser. A trespasser is further defined in Stewart v. Texas Co. as someone who enters a property without permission, and “solely for their own convenience or pleasure, and who are not either expressly invited to enter or induced to come thereon.” Furthermore, upon entering the premises the trespasser “assumes whatever risk of injury there may then be in the condition of the property.”
It is important to note that while a trespasser is owed no duty of care, there are exceptions when it comes to known hazards such as swimming pools. A pool is defined as an attractive nuisance, and as such, a property owner will owe a higher standard of care for items deemed an attractive nuisance.
Premises liability law is complicated. If you were injured in an accident, or own a swimming pool, talking with an accident lawyer in Miami can help establish the class of a visitor on a property and the duty of care owed at the time of an accident.
Special Duty of Care with Swimming Pools in Miami
While it is true that the duty of care owed to a trespasser on someone’s property is quite low, Florida has made sure to protect certain classes of visitors when it comes to dangerous bodies of water. The attractive nuisance doctrine was established with the understanding that swimming pools can oftentimes attract young children to a property, even if they weren’t permitted to be there.
In an attempt to reduce the likelihood of an injury or death of a child, Florida enacted the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. This act has the intent to reduce the number of young drowning victims, and is “designed to deny, delay, or detect unsupervised entry to the swimming pool, spa, or hot tub [and] reduce drowning and near-drowning incidents.” Florida Code §515.23
To achieve the goal of reduced swimming pool accident victims, the statute further states that “all new residential swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs be equipped with at least one pool safety feature as specified in this chapter.” These safety features include:
- An approved safety pool cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials. Florida Code §515.25(1)
- A barrier, which includes a fence, dwelling wall or non-dwelling wall, or any combination that surrounds the body of water completely and obstructs access to the swimming pool from the residence or the yard. Florida Code §515.25(2)
- An exit alarm or device that makes a continuous audible sound when a door or window permits access to any pool area from a residence. Florida Code §515.25(4)
Additionally, to pass a final inspection and receive a certificate of completion, a residential swimming pool must include:
- Isolation from access to the home by an enclosure
- An approved safety cover
- An alarm with a minimum of 85 dB at 10 feet on all doors and windows providing direct access to the water
- Self-closing and self-latching devices for all doors that provide direct access to a water
If a residential pool owner fails to “equip a new residential swimming pool with at least one pool safety feature as required… [they] commit a misdemeanor of the second degree” unless they can show that at least one safety feature was installed under the code within 45 days of their arrest.
Failure to protect a trespasser from the dangers of a swimming pool could lead to liability. If you own a swimming pool in Miami or were injured in someone else’s swimming pool, you may be entitled to compensation, even if you weren’t permitted to be there. Swimming pool laws are complicated and require an in-depth analysis of the circumstances that led to the accident. In these cases, seeking the advice of a swimming pool accident lawyer is essential. A Miami swimming pool accident attorney with Schlacter Law has the experience necessary to evaluate the circumstances in each case and understands what is necessary to be successful in a lawsuit.
How Can I pay for a Lawyer after a Swimming Pool Accident?
Fortunately, if you were involved in a swimming pool accident, or need assistance on behalf of someone who died as a result of an accident, a Miami swimming pool accident lawyer can help even if you cannot afford to pay a lawyer upfront.
Florida lawyers may take cases on a contingency basis. This allows the attorney to proceed with a case without the client paying any upfront fees. The lawyer would have their fee taken out of any award granted in a lawsuit or through an insurance settlement. Under this agreement, a lawyer would only take on a case if he or she feels there is a high probability that a claim would be successful.
Additionally, a Miami lawyer may be able to assist with medical, property, and any other bills that resulted from the swimming pool accident. These costs would be added to the lawyer’s fee and subtracted from the total award after a successful claim. Additional fees might include upfront court costs and paperwork filing fees that the lawyer would be required to pay upfront to proceed with a case.
A typical lawyer’s contingency fee in Florida is 33.33% of the total settlement if a settlement is agreed upon before a lawsuit is filed. If a case proceeds to trial, a lawyer may receive up to 40% of the total award. The remaining money would be distributed to a client after any additional costs and bills the lawyer paid upfront are subtracted from the total award.
A contingency fee arrangement makes it easier for a client to proceed with a swimming pool accident case even if they do not have the money to pay for the lawyer’s services. If you were involved in an accident and suspect someone else may be liable, call Schlacter Law today. We have the experience necessary to evaluate a claim, and can move forward when the circumstances are warranted.
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are numerous examples of situations that would fall under the attractive nuisance doctrine. These include swimming pools, as well as trampolines, refrigerators, treehouses, and tunnels. Failing to protect all types of visitors from these types of hazards may make a property owner liable for any injuries that occur on their property.
Florida’s statute of limitations requires a claimant to file a lawsuit for compensation within four years from the time the injury occurs for negligence lawsuits. The deadlines for statutes of limitations are strictly adhered to, and failing to file a lawsuit in a timely manner could potentially eliminate the ability to be compensated.
An attorney is typically paid through a contingent fee. This would mean a plaintiff would not have to pay any money upfront. Instead, the lawyer is paid a percentage of any compensation they receive for their client through the legal process. This percentage varies and typically ranges between 33.33% and 40% of any award given to the plaintiff.