Swimming Pool Injury Damages
Swimming pool accidents are not uncommon, particularly among children, and injured victims and their families may need to pursue legal action in order to receive compensation for the images. Before considering a lawsuit, you should familiarize yourself with available damages owed for swimming pool injuries. Consult with an experienced attorney if you have any questions, and make sure you know what damages you are owed after your swimming pool injury before taking action.
Damages Available in Pool Injury Lawsuits
When you are injured in an swimming pool accident and you make a claim for damages, they are divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that are easily quantifiable, such as:
- medical and hospital bills,
- rehabilitation expenses,
- ambulance expenses,
- prescription drug costs,
- nursing home care or domestic services,
- lost employment income (present and future), and
- increased living expenses due to need for medical care or treatment
Most of these damages are fairly easy to calculate, however, loss of future income can get complicated, particularly when a child is involved. For example, if Bill Gates suffers a brain injury in a pool accident, you can look at his previous earnings and make a determination of how much he might have made were he not injured. If instead, the injured person is a child from a middle income family, the loss of future income is purely speculative (uncertain or unpredictable). Economics experts are used in lawsuits to determine future loss of earnings estimates.
Non-economic damages are those that are not easily quantifiable, such as:
- pain and suffering,
- mental and emotional suffering,
- loss of enjoyment of life, and
- “loss of consortium” (the loss of company/love/relations with your spouse).
In most states, there are no limitations when it comes to damages for pain and suffering, but that is changing. If you live in a state that places a limit on pain and suffering, that limit is the maximum you can get. In states that have such a limit, it is often in the amount of $250,000 or $500,000. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of the injury, family members of the injured victim can also collect non-economic damages. Family members are usually only able to collect damages in wrongful death lawsuits, but consult an attorney to find all available damages before taking action.
A court can also order payment of punitive damages in a swimming pool accident. This is money that may be awarded in order to punish the defendant for his or her actions. This type of award is frequently difficult to obtain and usually requires a showing of willful, wanton or malicious action or where there was an evil motive, intent to injure, ill will or fraud. For example, let’s say you go swimming in your neighbor’s pool and suffer chemical burns all over your body. You learn that your neighbor intentionally added a dangerous amount of caustic chemicals to his pool specifically to injure a swimmer. In this situation, you would be in a good position to recover punitive damages.
Damage Payout for Minor Child
Who receives the settlement money depends on the laws of your state. In many states, in order for a minor (anyone under the age of eighteen (18) years) to file a claim in court, the claim must be filed through a Guardian Ad Litem. The Guardian Ad Litem, usually one of the minor's parents, will file suit on behalf of the child and must act for the child’s benefit. All settlements of a minor's personal injury claim must be approved by a judge in order for the settlement to be valid.
In most injury cases that are settled, first the debts are paid to the people who rendered services or advanced money to the injured child. This group of beneficiaries usually includes doctors, lawyers, the insurance company and parents. For example, a child's parents can request reimbursement for their out-of-pocket payments to doctors.
The proceeds of the settlement, after litigation expenses, are normally paid into the court for the use and benefit of the child. When the settlement involves an annuity, it is referred to as a structured settlement. Instead of a settlement being paid in a lump sum, payments are made on a regular basis over the lifetime of the child. When the child reaches adulthood, the court will hand over the remaining amount to the child. Parents can ask the court for more money to use for the benefit of their injured child, but the court does not often agree to do this. You may, however, live in a state where the remainder of the settlement money can be paid to you for the benefit of your child.
Swimming Pool Accident Attorneys
As is the case with most personal injury cases, the help of an experienced attorney can be critical to success. Attorneys familiar with swimming pool injury lawsuits and damages will help you identify the parties responsible for the injury and calculate the damages you are owed. Typically, personal injury attorneys offer free, no obligation, consultations, so speaking with one will not commit you. Consider taking the time to talk to a lawyer, and give yourself the best chance to recover the full damages you are owed.