Lake Drowning Accident Lawyer
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People are rarely prepared for devastating accidents, but accidents can feel even more unexpected and horrifying when they happen on vacation or during leisure activities. If you have witnessed a loved one drown at a lake, you know the pain it can cause friends and family. You especially want to ensure that you hold the right people responsible.
It is hard enough to recover from losing or coming close to losing loved ones, but it may be especially frustrating to simultaneously battle the unfamiliar legal system. This article can help familiarize you to help you proceed with a lake drowning accident case.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a lake-related incident or accident, contact the Zinda Law Group attorneys at (800) 863-5312. Our experienced lawyers will be able to give you a free case evaluation.
Who is at risk of a lake drowning accident?
Under the right circumstances, anyone could be at risk of drowning; however, it is often children who cannot swim very well. What might at one moment be a fun trip to the local lake can at the next moment turn into a parent’s worst nightmare. For every child who dies of drowning, there are five children who go to medical emergency centers to receive treatment for nonfatal submersion injuries.
Even if the child survives a near-drowning, the child’s family still suffers from the trauma the child experiences along with costly medical bills, the loss of money from time that family members miss from work, and other financial and non-financial losses. Depending on who owns the lake and the kind of access that entity has to legal sources, it can be difficult to go up against the person who owns the lake at court; this can be especially true of lakes owned by the government.
Who is responsible for a lake drowning?
Whenever a child drowns because a neighbor fails to enclose his or her pool, it is clear who the parent should sue to recover for damages; however, lake ownership and responsibility can be more complicated. The owner is not necessarily liable for the accident. Other individuals who acted negligently might be able to be held liable for you or your family member’s injuries.
There could be many parties involved with the accident, making it difficult to determine who should take responsibility. Examples of parties who might be at fault include the owner of the lake, other people on the lake, and the lifeguard or the lifeguard’s employer.
The Owner of the Lake
Recreational lakes are often owned by the government, and they almost always have warning signs and clear zones within the lake designated for swimmers or watercraft. If the owner did not post warning signs or did not leave enough space between the zones designated for swimmers and those designated for boats and other watercraft, then the owner might be at least one party responsible for the accident.
Other People on the Lake
Publicly accessible lakes can become extremely busy. The busier they are, the higher traffic can be found on the surface of the lake. People might be operating a variety of recreational watercraft on the lake, and they may have had a few drinks.
If a boater, jet ski rider, or other watercraft operator drove his or her vehicle in a reckless manner or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and struck you or your loved one, you can probably seek legal compensation against that person for your injuries. Similarly, you may have a strong case if one of these careless operators makes a dangerous wake that drowns a loved one.
If the lake has a lifeguard, the lifeguard may have done an inadequate job in keeping swimmers safe. More specifically, a lifeguard could be responsible for you or your loved one’s injuries if the lifeguard failed to take sufficient measures to rescue someone who was clearly struggling. Also, a lifeguard may have failed to properly perform CPR or to properly administer first aid; the lifeguard may have been improperly trained by his or her employer.
Do you need a personal injury attorney?
If you or your loved one have been the victim of a drowning or near-drowning, you likely want to sue the person responsible. However, it can be difficult to enter the legal world alone if you are unfamiliar with it, especially for such an important case. You might consider hiring a lawyer to give yourself the best chance at full compensation; an injury lawyer can help you file your claim, gather evidence, negotiate a settlement, and get compensated.
Filing a Claim
You will want to consult with the personal injury attorney to know where, when, and how to file your claim. You do not want your case to be dismissed because you did not file in the correct place or because you failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A lawyer may even advise you to not file your claim because you do not have a strong enough case to recover; you may also benefit from a personal injury lawyer’s advice about who you should sue based on the evidence.
If the lake is a government property, recovery might be particularly difficult. States usually have a statute that outlines the procedure for victims to follow to bring a lawsuit against a government or government agency; the statutes give strict steps and the time frames the victims have in which to complete the steps. If the victim fails to meet the deadlines or complete the steps correctly, the claim may be denied and the victim might not be able to recover from the government.
Gathering the Evidence
You will want to gather as much evidence as possible in a drowning case. As soon as you can, you should gather contact information of any witnesses to the accident, as well as the name of the watercraft operator or lifeguard who was involved in the accident, if applicable. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, noting defective warning signs that are too faded to read or a lack of warning signs.
An experienced lawyer will tell you other evidence specific to your case that can be used to increase how much compensation you might receive for your injuries. It is helpful to file as soon as possible; the longer you wait, the more likely the scene of the accident will change, and it could be harder to illustrate your case to a jury. Similarly, a jury might perceive a witness as less credible if much time has passed since the incident.
Negotiating a Settlement
Most cases settle instead of going to trial. Settlement usually occurs when the parties can agree on a compensation amount and the charges are dropped. If the parties cannot agree and the charges are not dropped, the case may go to trial.
It is likely in a personal injury claim like this that the party or parties you sue will be insured, and insurance companies negotiate claims to pay out as little as possible. Insurance companies do this by asking you questions that they anticipate you will answer in a way that hurts the strength of your case. An injury lawyer will be aware of this tactic and should be able to protect your case.
An attorney will know how to get you compensated as much as possible for your injuries and will know what compensation you could receive. As a victim of drowning or near-drowning, you or your loved one may be able to recover for economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages will include easily measurable money amounts that you can prove by showing your bills and receipts. You could be compensated for hospital bills and missed wages from time off of work.
Non-economic damages include expenses due to the pain and suffering that you endured as a result of the injuries. These non-economic damages could be extensive if your loved one passed away from someone else’s negligence.
Proving negligence in a drowning case
In a drowning negligence claim, you must show that the someone owed a duty to the victim who drowned or nearly drowned, and that the person failed to meet that duty. For example, a lifeguard has a duty to rescue people who are drowning.
Next, you must show that you or a loved one suffered an injury for which you can receive compensation. Last, you must show that the breach of duty by the person or entity you are suing either directly or proximately caused the injury. If you are unsure about your ability to make those arguments to insurance companies and possibly to a jury, a lake drowning attorney may be able to help you prove the elements of your negligence case.
our Personal Injury lawyers want to hear your story
If you would like for someone with legal knowledge to advocate for your rights or the rights of your loved one, call the Zinda Law Group attorneys at (800) 863-5312. Our experienced injury attorneys can schedule your free consultation.
No one should have to keep paying the price for such a tremendous and unexpected loss or near-loss. Our No Win, No Fee Guarantee affirms that you will not owe us anything unless we win your case for you.