Tragically, swimming pool accidents affect too many Morris County, NJ, residents each year. Even worse, children are often the victims of such accidents, likely because they tend to use swimming pools more frequently than adults and are less experienced.
National statistics for the summer of 2017, provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, are sobering: 163 children under the age of 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Annually, the CDC estimates there are about 10 deaths per day from unintentional drownings. For every drowning, another five children need to visit emergency rooms for near-drowning injuries.
In addition to drownings and near-drownings, swimming pool accidents can also arise because of imbalances in the chemicals used to clean and maintain pools and spas, because of slip-and-fall incidents or as the result of improperly-maintained drains, filters or other pool equipment.
Deciding to Hire an Attorney After a Swimming Pool Accident
Whether your loved one was injured or killed due to a swimming pool accident, dealing with the aftermath can be financially and emotionally difficult. Non-fatal pool accidents can result in fractured or broken bones, illnesses and infections, or long-term and severe brain damage. Any type of swimming pool injury accident can come with a lifetime of medical expenses and ongoing care needs.
Pool owners have an obligation to those who use their facilities under New Jersey’s premises liability laws. When an injury or death occurs because of the pool owner’s negligent or intentional actions, the injured party or his/her family may be entitled to compensation.
When you decide to hire a swimming pool accident lawyer to pursue your rights, you are also helping to ensure someone else doesn’t fall victim to the same set of circumstances.
How to Choose a Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer
There are many attorneys in Morris County, NJ, but not all of them will be able to help you with a swimming pool accident liability lawsuit. Follow these tips to choose a swimming pool accident lawyer who will help your case:
- Practice experience. Choose an attorney/law firm that regularly handles personal injury and wrongful death cases, and that has experience handling swimming pool accident cases.
- Location. Selecting a firm that practices in Morris County courts can help ensure your legal team is familiar with the court’s specific processes.
- Convenience. If you or a loved one was injured because of a swimming pool accident, it may not be practical, or even possible, to go to an attorney’s office for a consultation. Look for an attorney who offers to come to your home, hospital room or rehabilitation center.
- Consultation. Look for a lawyer who is willing to listen to the details of your accident and answer your questions during a no-obligation initial consultation.
- Fees. When comparing attorneys, make sure to ask about fees and billing practices. Many attorneys who help swimming pool accident victims and their families take cases on a contingent-fee basis, meaning that you wouldn’t have to pay anything unless your lawyer successfully helped you recover damages.
- Comfort. Finally, choose an attorney you feel comfortable with. You will be working closely with the attorney and his or her staff as they develop your case, so it’s important that you feel you trust and have a rapport with your legal team.
The Settlement Process for Swimming Pool Accident Cases
In order to hold a pool owner responsible for a swimming pool injury accident, you will need to be able to show that the pool owner had a duty of care, that he or she breached that duty, that the breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of the injuries sustained and that you suffered actual damages as a result.
Your swimming pool accident lawyer will help shape your case, advocating for your rights by preparing and presenting your case in a clear manner. When appropriate, your attorney will help negotiate a settlement for you.
There are some things you can do to help preserve your rights:
- Capture photographic evidence. Swimming pool accident cases will hinge, to a large extent, on the evidence presented. If you are able to take photographs at the scene, including photographs of signs or warning notices, those may be helpful. A lack of signs or posted notices can also be telling. Having photographic evidence of the accident scene can help support your claim for damages.
- Obtain witness information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, including other swimmers, bystanders or pool employees, obtain their names and contact information (if they are willing to share that information with you).
- Be aware of time limits. You and your attorney have a limited time period during which to file a swimming pool liability lawsuit. Because of this, it’s important to consult with a swimming pool accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to discuss the circumstances of the injury or wrongful death, and determine next steps.
Hiring an attorney to pursue a swimming pool accident cannot erase the accident or its consequences. However, it can help you get the justice you deserve.