When you think about cooling off during the dog days of summer, not many things look more appealing than the cool, clear blue water of a swimming pool shimmering under the sun.
As with most things that bring fun and adventure, there is also danger. Sadly, according to the Center for Disease Control, every day, approximately 10 people die from accidental drowning. The CDC also reports:
If you have lost a loved one to accidental drowning or are facing long-term care for a loved one who suffered a submersion injury, it’s important to determine who is at fault and if there are damages you can recover as compensation for your loss or to cover the costs of long-term care. These types of personal injuries fall under premises liability law, an area where the swimming pool injury lawyers at the Wetherington Law Firm consistently assist their clients in determining who is responsible and aid them in recovering damages.
Premises liability law covers injuries that occur on someone else’s property and is extremely fact intensive because each type of premises, from a grocery store to swimming pools, has its own body of law specifically related to each type of hazard that may be present. Due to the complicated nature of these types of cases, we strongly encourage you to hire an experienced premises liability attorney to ensure your interests are protected.
Quite simply, the owner of the pool is responsible – whether the owner is present or not, if they are somehow negligent. In Georgia, the owner’s responsibility is higher to those who are invited onto the property than those who are uninvited. Georgia recognizes three types of visitors:
Invitee: A person who enters the premises with the express or implied consent of the owner. This extends to businesses too where any customer is considered an invitee.
Property owners owe the following duty (responsibility) to all invitees:
Swimming pool owners must make sure there is a fence around the pool with gates that lock from the inside and ensure children cannot access the property freely.
It is not enough to post signs warning others that they swim at their own risk to guarantee the owner is not liable for injuries occurring in their swimming pool. This can hold true even for those who are not invited to the property.
Licensee: Georgia defines a licensee as someone who is not an employee, customer or trespasser; does not have any contractual relationship with the premise’s owner; and is allowed on the premises for their own enjoyment, benefit or convenience.
Examples of licensees include friends and family, unsolicited door-to-door salesmen, religious missionaries, and political campaigners. Due to the similar definitions, Georgia employees a specific test to decide if the visitor is an invitee or a a licensee:
Did the injured person have a business relationship with the owner at the time of the injury that would cause the visitor’s presence to be beneficial to both the visitor and owner? If not, the visitor is regarded as a licensee.
Trespasser: Those who enter a property without permission. Trespassers are not owed any duty regarding the safe or unsafe condition of a property when they enter premises without knowledge of the owner or person in charge; unless the trespasser is a child. An owner’s only duty to a trespasser is to not inflict intentional harm to the trespasser.
Premises liability law includes a concept called attractive nuisance, which is defined as: A dangerous condition on a landowner’s property that may attract children onto the land and may involve risk or harm to their safety. Because child trespassers may not appreciate the risks that the dangerous condition poses, landowners have the duty to either eliminate that danger or make it inaccessible to trespassing children.
Swimming pools and trampolines fit into this definition.
Georgia has developed the following test to determine whether a property owner or occupier can be held liable for injuries to a trespassing child:
This test does not apply to children who are guests on the owner’s property.
Each type of case is unique, but all premises liability cases require the plaintiff to prove basic tort elements:
Premises liability law is part of a body of law called tort law. The purpose of tort law is to determine monetary damages to injured parties as compensation for their injuries and to make them whole again. This means the system is flawed because freedom of pain, lives and limbs can never be fully restored. Payment for damages is meant to restore the plaintiff to the same monetary position they were in prior to the injury or death of their loved one.
Two types of compensatory damages exist within the law – general damages and special damages. General damages include pain and suffering, disfigurement, and/or mental anguish, and have no specific monetary value. General damage amounts are determined by juries and are inconsistent from one jury to the next. A broken bone in one courtroom could receive $20,000 for pain and suffering, yet the same injury could receive $150,000 from a different jury for general damages. Matt Wetherington tried a case in Fulton County that resulted in a $2.8 million verdict for a broken ankle.
Special damages cover documented losses that have a specific value, including lost wages, medical expenses, long-term care expenses and hiring help around the home to assist the injured party.
Obtaining full and complete compensation for our clients is the most important service we provide to our clients. Protecting the general public and making sure that other people are protected is part of obtaining justice. We frequently work with law enforcement, local government officials, state legislators, and federal agencies to understand the root cause of dangerous conditions. This often leads to uncovering dangerous trends or patterns of behavior that must be changed. Many of our clients have chosen not to be defined by their injuries, and instead choose to serve as a beacon of hope to others. Whether through legislation, refusing to settle unless changes are made, or simply sharing their story, our clients’ efforts have helped save MILLIONS of people from serious injury or death. If you can help prevent even one other person from being hurt or injured by the same problem, it will help make every day of your recovery a little bit better. We care about you as a person and will work with you however you want to help make the world a safer and better place. Call us now to get started.
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So glad I hired this firm after my rearend car accident. Matt embodies the skill set and values I was looking for. He treats every case like a mini war, and was a zealous advocate on my behalf. And he did so in the most competent and skillful manner. He listened, was empathetic and understood my legal and nonlegal problems.
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Matt Wetherington is the attorney who is suing the booting companies. We need to do everything we can as a community to help him succeed. God bless you, Mr. Wetherington!
The best! Great people and always friendly.
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I called Matt after several people recommended him. He was very kind and did a very good job on my son’s case. We are very thankful for the work he did. Most importantly, he was never hard to reach and answered every question we had while going through the process. Matt is the only attorney I will ever call in the future.
It was important to me to get the maximum money I could for my broken neck and arm. After getting jerked around for months by State Farm, I interviewed several firms and chose Mr. Wetherington. I’m glad I did. He forced the insurance company to pay twenty times their last offer to me.
Reputation matters. Our firm only pursues high value, meritorious lawsuits. The insurance companies may not like us, but they respect the work we do and results we obtain for our clients. When a case moves into litigation, the defense attorneys know that we have properly investigated the claims, know the applicable law, and are preparing the case for trial.
There is no risk when hiring our firm.
We do not charge attorney fees for obtaining property damage or medical payment coverage for our clients. Other firms charge for this service.
We have saved our clients millions simply by negotiating medical bills and fighting invalid medical liens.